“How can a year that ends in ’13 possibly go well?” said a colleague after I’d crabbed about various and sundry muck-ups and a painful shoulder that was threatening to freeze up. In addition, I suffered from the negative effect of having eaten and drunk with abandon over the holidays and was rapidly reaching that itchy feeling inside that makes me want to crawl out of my skin. Thankfully, as if one of the Fates heard my misery, I fell into a string of happy coincidences.
Both my son and daughter inherited my husband’s introvert genes and, to be honest, I’ve long guessed I might have a stash of my own. While I thrive on presenting, I get tired quickly in the bustle of the world, am uncomfortable at big parties and lost when it comes to cocktail party conversations. Listening to Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” (Random House, 9 CDs, 10.5 hours) clarified and confirmed my feelings.
My childhood holiday memories are a collision — gifts spreading across the living room floor, an alcohol-inspired parental fight, my mother playing Christmas carols on the piano, scarfing one too many of those powdered-sugar nut balls.
I’m captured by memoirs that provide intriguing walks through the lives of others, but the ones that impact me most are those that send me down the paths of my own remembering. Two recent audios touched a deep core.
Presenting the second part of the 17th annual Wilde Awards for longer books. Because there are too many books and too little print space, you’ll find more suggestions at www.heraldsun.com.
Presenting the 17th annual Wilde Awards, honoring the best books of the year for young readers. This week, the best picture books of the year. Coming in December, the best longer books. Join me for the Wilde Awards Live at Flyleaf on Dec. 5. And because there are too many books and too little print space, you’ll find more suggestions at www.heraldsun.com.
When I wound up with an airline voucher that would go away if I didn’t spend it, I decided to return “home” to Santa Barbara for the first time in close to 10 years. Even though I’ve lived in Chapel Hill for 23 years, a part of me still yearns for beach walks, mountain hikes, my many friends and the fare of Superica Taqueria.
Rainbow Rowell burst on the scene with “Eleanor and Park” (St Martin’s Griffin, ages 14 and up), the story of an unpopular, unattractive, prickly young woman who wins the love of Park. Park, the book’s second narrator, gets past Eleanor’s guardedness and learns heartbreaking truths that rule her life. Rowell’s first book captured children’s book fans, including the celebrated YA author John Green who wrote a glowing New York Times article, and five writers who gave it starred reviews.
One always wonders about new books from authors whose books have created a sensation. Will they be able to fulfill the promise, or was this a one-time amazement? Elizabeth Wein and Rainbow Rowell have each published a second book this year and all these books deliver!
My children were on the edge of leaving home, my husband told me he wasn’t into traveling when they left, and my work crashed and burned. These events coincided just before I turned 50, scooting me into the depression I’d been skirting for a couple years. A thick glass wall rose from some ugly inferno and slipped between me and the rest of the world. The wall magnified laughter and amplified the conversations of those on the other side. I moped, sulked and lurked invisible behind its glare. I stopped going to parties. Being around more than one other person made me so nervous I’d vanish behind the wall’s cold shield.
When my son and daughter-in-law were new parents, I gave them the audio of Pamela Druckerman’s “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting,” narrated by Abby Craden (Random House, approximately 9 hours).
“It’s going to be the next big YA book,” a publicist told me about Rick Yancey’s “The 5th Wave” (G.P. Putnam, ages 12 and up). This is the kind of comment a reviewer has to weigh. Is this sales spin, or a truly remarkable book that will captivate young audiences — and me? The only way to judge the hype is to read, or listen for myself. The last time I’d heard that kind of pumping, a publicist was recommending Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.” I devoured that book in a weekend and have watched its sales and fan base grow ever since.
People talk about beach reading, but I think first of beach listening. My husband and I visited a friend on Okracoke, and I knew he’d be his usual serious self while driving---eyes on the road, watching for tailgaters, speeders, and lurking police cars. The last time we went, he worried about catching the ferry, disobeyed his own rules and caught a ticket before we made the boat. So I knew there would be no chitchat aside from my periodic plea for a bathroom stop, so I plugged into audios.
Two questions I heard again and again growing up: “Where we you when they walked on the moon?” and, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”
I have a young friend who was a hero in Iraq, not that he’d claim that title, but I saw him that way. He was part of the team that knocked down doors in Fallujah seeking insurgents, not knowing what, or whom he’d find on the other side of the door.