Saturday, January 29, 2011

Favorite Reads of 2010

According to Goodreads, I read 145 books in 2010, primarily fiction. My four favorites were from very different genres: a haunting timeslip set in Scotland, primarily historical fiction; a semi-autobiographical novel about a famous English vet; contemporary fiction about an irritable retired English officer; and a YA about a spoiled teen who doesn’t value her family and friends until she loses them.

5 stars
The Winter Sea/Susanna KearsleyKearsley mingles the present-day story of a writer searching for inspiration in Scotland with a compelling and very romantic 18th-century tale of love and heartbreak, which I could barely put aside to sleep. It’s not the first time I have tried to get people excited about this author but this is by far her best book and I think readers are beginning to catch on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day

As a lawyer, I am expected to work from home if I can't make it into the office so I will certainly try to be productive while it blizzards outside but I am also surrounded by books I have not had time to unpack since moving to my new home. My Sharon Kay Penman books have a place of honor in my living room, at least they will once I have liberated them from various boxes. Today I received a (group) email from Ms. Penman, who is going to lead a fabulous trip to France called In the Footsteps of Eleanor of Acquitaine, sponsored by Academic Travel Abroad. If one had unlimited funds, this would be an awesome trip! Interestingly, while I knew she had studied law, I did not know previously that she attended Rutgers Law School like me (although I suspect she attended the Camden branch).

I became a fan of Penman's the first summer I lived in NYC. I had no money and no books! It was hard to persuade the NY library to give me a card and they would only let me take out two books at a time, which was clearly inadequate. One day I was walking up Columbus Avenue and paused at one of those tables of used books. A tired copy of The Sunne in Splendour caught my eye. Even a dollar was a lot of money for me because I got paid on the last day of the month, but I handed it over and savored every word. I was already a fan of Richard III but fell in love with Penman's ability to create a panoramic vision of England under the Yorks. I have cherished that copy for more than 20 years! I must have raved about Penman's books to now deceased Pat Sado, a wonderful person who was then the hardcover fiction buyer at Coliseum Books in New York. One day when I was the Penguin rep, I came in for my monthly appointment and she proudly gave me a brand new copy of The Reckoning (a beautiful edition with a ribbon bookmark). I was so touched that she remembered my fondness for the author, and I always think of her in connection with Penman to this day.