Saturday, July 30, 2016

Pecking Away at the Neverending To-Be-Read Pile

I calculated awhile back that if I read two books a day, every day for the rest of my life, I'd have to live to be about 150 years old before I get to the bottom of my waiting-to-be-read pile.

Of course, it isn't really a "pile" - it's boxes and shelves filled with books waiting to be read. I've made some progress recently. I have more reading time now that my grandkids are both going to day care in the morning. At some point I'll use this free time for writing instead of reading, but this summer I'm firmly entrenched in reading mode.

Two things about my "to-be-read" pile, besides the fact that it's not a pile. It's not static, since I'm always adding new and used books to it. And I don't always reach for a book I haven't read. I'm a big fan of re-reading old favorites.

Several years ago I started logging all the books I'd been reading on the Barnes & Noble website. Later, I started building a more comprehensive list on Shelfari. Lately, I haven't been updating my books read at all, except in a notebook - an actual paper notebook. But the habit of keeping track of my reading habits online is strong, so I'm transferring the old-school list here.

It's not in alphabetical or even strictly chronological order, and I know I've left out a few (I wrote some down and can't find the list.). But still...

What I've read so far this spring and summer:


THE SECRETS SHE KEPT by Brenda Novak

ATLAS OF CURSED PLACES by Olivier Le Carrer

SHADOWS AT SUNSET by Anne Stuart

LOOK FOR ME BY MOONLIGHT by Mary Downing Hahn

SOFIA KHAN IS NOT OBLIGED by Ayisha Malik

THE BOOK OF BELOVED by Carolyn Haines

THE GIRLS OF MURDER CITY by Douglas Perry

MURDER AT THE BRIGHTWELL by Ashley Weaver

DEATH WEARS A MASK by Ashley Weaver

THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne

TEXTBOOK by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

FORGET TOMORROW by Pintip Dunn

MARSHALL FIELD & COMPANY: THE LIFE STORY OF A GREAT CONCERN by Samuel Herbert Ditchett

IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin

THE FAIRY GODMOTHER by Mercedes Lackey

THE GRANTCHESTER MYSTERIES: SIDNEY CHAMBERS AND THE DANGERS OF TEMPTATION by James Runcie

READY TO ROLL by Suzanne Brockmann

ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS: MORE OF MY FAVORITES IN SUSPENSE

FIRST CULPRIT Mystery Anthology

MISSING, PRESUMED by Susie Steiner

HOT IN HELLCAT CANYON by Julie Ann Long

LIKE NO OTHER LOVER by Julie Ann Long

THE BODY IN THE WARDROBE by Katherine Hall Page

NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS by Charlotte Lamb

MALICE DOMESTIC 9 Edited by Joan Hess

DARK MATTER by Blake Crouch

FAKE by Twist Phelan

A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS by Eloisa James

DON'T GO HOME by Carolyn Hart

A PREMONITION OF MURDER by Mary Kennedy

TEAR DOWN AND DIE by Joanna Campbell Slan

GET A CLUE by Jill Shalvis

SWEET LITTLE LIES by Jill Shalvis

DINERS, DIVES & DEAD ENDS by Terri L. Austin

THE WICKED DUKE by Madeline Hunter

ONCE A KNIGHT by Christina Dodd

CAROLINA DREAMING by Virginia Kantra

DON'T TEMPT ME by Loretta Chase

MARRYING WINTERBOURNE by Lisa Kleypas

RULES OF THE GAME by Lori Wilde

THE OBSESSION by Nora Roberts

THE LIAR by Nora Roberts

THE GAME OF KINGS by Dorothy Dunnett

PLOTS & ERRORS by Jill McGown

CREATING CLARK by Jason T. Gaffney and Ed Gaffney

KNOT GUILTY by Betty Hechtman

GONE WITH THE WOOL by Betty Hechtman

SEAMS LIKE MURDER by Betty Hechtman

My American Duchess - Eloisa James

Not Quite Perfect - Annie Lyons

Bride Without a Groom - Amy Lynch

Driven by Fire - Anne Stuart

Murder at the Observatory by Christina Squire 

Saints of the Lost and Found by T.M. Causey (Toni McGee Causey)

To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey

Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken

The Ex by Alafair Burke

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

THE KILLING OF KATIE STEELSTOCK by Michael Gilbert

FEAR TO TREAD by Michael Gilbert

BAY OF SIGHS (Guardians trilogy) by Nora Roberts

THRICE THE BRINDED CAT MEW'D by Alan Bradley

A GREAT RECKONING by Louise Penny

FIRST STAR I SEE TONIGHT by Susan Elizabeth Phillips 





PHRYNE FISHER series by Kerry Greenwood

COCAINE BLUES

FLYING TOO HIGH

MURDER ON THE BALLARAT TRAIN

DEATH AT VICTORIA DOCK

THE GREEN MILL MURDER

BLOOD AND CIRCUSES

RUDDY GORE

URN BURIAL

RAISINS AND ALMONDS

DEATH BEFORE WICKETS

A QUESTION OF MURDER

MURDER IN MONTPARNASSE

THE CASTLEMAINE MURDERS

QUEEN OF THE FLOWERS

MURDER IN THE DARK

DEATH BY WATER

MURDER ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT

AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES

DEAD MAN'S CHEST

UNNATURAL HABITS

MURDER and MENDELSSOHN



GIDEON OF SCOTLAND YARD series by J.J. Marric

Gideon's Day 

Gideon's Week 

Gideon's Night 

Gideon's Month 

Gideon's Staff 

Gideon's Risk 

Gideon's Fire 

Gideon's March 

Gideon's Ride 

Gideon's Vote 

Gideon's Lot 

Gideon's Badge 

Gideon's Wrath
 
Gideon's River 

Gideon's Power 

Gideon's Sport 

Gideon's Art 

Gideon's Men 

Gideon's Press 

Gideon's Fog 

Gideon's Drive 

GIDEON'S FORCE by William Vivian Butler writing as J.J. Marric

MARY STEWART'S ROMANTIC SUSPENSE NOVELS:

MADAM, WILL YOU TALK?

NINE COACHES WAITING

WILDFIRE AT MIDNIGHT

THUNDER ON THE RIGHT

MY BROTHER MICHAEL

THE IVY TREE

THE MOONSPINNERS

THIS ROUGH MAGIC

AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND

TOUCH NOT THE CAT

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Summertime, and the binge-ing is easy...


I Googled the word binge and this was the top result:

"a short period devoted to indulging in an activity to excess, especially drinking alcohol or eating.

"he went on a binge and was in no shape to drive"

synonyms:drinking bout, debauch

In my lexicon, binge-ing almost always refers to a binge of reading. I read all the time, but there's something especially enjoyable and relaxing about reading in summer. I remember when I was a teenager, sprawling in the grass in our background, soaking up the heat as I devoured book after book. 

As I've gotten older, bingeing has come to mean focusing on the entire booklist of an author, starting at book one and not stopping until I've read them all. This has always been my preferred way of reading. The luxury of reading ALL the books is a thrill that never grows old. When I was young and first fell in love with Nancy Drew, Bess, George, Ned Nickerson, Hannah Gruen et al, I got through every edition in our small library within a few months. I occasionally received books as gifts, and nearly every time I visited my Aunt Em she gave me a Nancy Drew book for my own personal collection. That was long before the internet, so I was never really sure how many books I hadn't read yet. I don't think I ever did read them all.

As a teenager, I discovered Agatha Christie. I lovely woman who hired me to babysit for her boys noticed that I was reading a paperback Christie when she came home one night. She hauled out a cardboard box filled with vintage Christie paperbacks and gave it to me as a gift. I still consider that one of the best gifts I have ever received. I read them all, and gradually added the newer books as well as British editions. I've read them all and re-read them all more times than I can count. Now when I have a Christie binge, I'll narrow it down. Last year I did a binge read of all the Miss Marple books. One of these days I'll reread all the Poirots.

It's always been my habit to seek out all the books by any author I enjoy. The first authors I binge-read, in addition to Carolyn Keene and Agatha Christie, were Victoria Holt, Dorothy Eden, Susan Howatch, Anya Seton, Mary Stewart, Helen MacInnes, Evelyn Anthony, Mignon G. Eberhart, Velda Johnston, Paul Gallico, Robert Ludlum, Dick Francis, G.K. Chesterton, John Dickson Carr, Patricia Wentworth, Ngaio Marsh, J.J. Marric - and so on and so on. In more recent years I've added the books by Deborah Crombie, Charles Todd, Louise Penney, Alan Bradley, Peter Robinson, Carolyn Hart, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Brad Parks, the Inspector Felse books by Ellis Peters, 

It's now become a sort of summer tradition for me to binge read a particular author. Some time back I added romance authors to the mix. I've read every book Nora Roberts has ever written, and nearly everything by Danielle Steel. Add Suzanne Brockmann, Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster, Julie James, Anna Campbell, Eloisa James, Shana Abe, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Kristan Higgins, Linda Howard, Charlotte Lamb, Jill Shalvis, Janet Dailey, Sarah Addison Allen, Sophie Kinsella, J.R. Ward, Thea Harrison, Loretta Chase, Monica Burns, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas, Julie Ann Long - honestly, I can't even scratch the surface here!

Last year I sought out all the Last Detective books featuring Dangerous Davies by Leslie Thomas and read them from start to finish. This year I added the Grantchester mysteries and I reread all of my beloved Mary Stewart novels, up to the Arthurian series (which I reread only a year or two ago). 

My mom died in the spring of this year, and I brought home several boxes of her mystery books. One box was filled with the Gideon of the Yard paperbacks by J.J. Marric. I'd read them all but it had been probably 40 years or so, and I'm not sure I'd ever read them all. So I sorted my mom's books and read them in chronological order. She was missing two, and I found used copies of those. That was binge number two, following Mary Stewart.

Now I'm reading Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher mysteries from book one onwards. I'd read one or two of them years ago, but I'm enjoying following the series from its inception. I'm only on book 4 and there are, I think, 21 in the series. I'll have to scour used book sales to fill in the blanks in my collection. 

This week my annual, highly predictable summer cold struck, and I spent several days dosing myself with cold medicine, drinking lemon tea with ginger and honey and burrowing under the quilt with a stack of mysteries. I recommend this as a cold cure - it's been less than a week, and my cold is nearly gone. 

Binge reading is a luxury - a guilty pleasure. Now that I've nearly shaken off the cold, it will be hard to justify another binge. But it's supposed to get up to 100 degrees tomorrow. And, really, when it's that hot, there's not much better than a cold drink, a lime popsicle and a good book. 

Enjoy your summer - and happy reading!