Monday, April 05, 2010

The Vacation Reading-Palooza

When I go on vacation, it's not necessarily to soak up the rays or the view. It's to READ. I'm like a starving man who is suddenly dropped into an all-you-can-eat buffet when I get these rare opportunities.

See, when I'm writing a book, I don't read my own genre and barely get time to read other genres. And for someone who LOVES to read, that's almost painful. I do have a book on my elliptical (and if I'm at a really suspenseful part of the book, I usually can't WAIT to get down there to exercise and find out what happens next, LOL), a book on my nightstand, and a book floating around with me from place to place. That all ends up being disjointed reading, with a few pages here and there. Rarely do I get one long uninterrupted stretch of reading time. (I did just buy and read Harlan Coben's CAUGHT in one day, though. LOVED it).

Except on vacation. I've been here three days and am on my fourth book already, LOL. I bring so many, I actually ship them down and back (I know, I know, I hear the Kindle arguments, but I like real books. Love holding them, feeling the binding crack for the first time, love everything there is to love about real books. And, I think a real book gives those authors I love just a little more of a push with other readers--people see that book in my hands and think, hey, maybe that's one I'll try).

Dennis Lehane is one of my all-time, love-everything-he-writes, authors (Harlan Coben is one of the others, if you're a suspense lover). Being from the Boston area myself, I loved that the books are set in areas I know well (and when I went on vacation, I read one he had set partially in Tampa, and ended up driving over the same Skyway Bridge he wrote about. Very neat). I loved Mystic River, loved Gone, Baby Gone, loved Coronnado (his short stories and play collection), his story in Boston Noir (another short story collection; most of those were winners, a few I was like what the heck was that?), loved a Drink Before the War, and loved Darkness Take my Hand. Read Shutter Island twice, and saw the movie.

This week, I had two of his books with me. Sacred and Prayers for Rain. I love the Patrick and Angie stories and am thrilled there will be another one this fall.

I also love Michael Kortya, whose soon-to-be-released book SO COLD THE RIVER, I received at Bouchercon 2009. That one is a bit of a departure for Kortya, with a paranormal element that was pretty cool (reminded me of Joe Hill, who also writes great stuff).

I've just started his Lincoln Perry series, and this week read SORROW'S ANTHEM and started A WELCOME GRAVE. I like Lincoln, and liked the complexities Kortya has in his plot. After I finish Kortya, I've got a couple of PJ Parrish's I haven't read before (yep, it's a suspenseful week, LOL) and then a new Jodi Picoult. Also a Brad Meltzer, and a couple other books that I can't remember. If it wasn't so nice out here on the balcony, overlooking the ocean as the sun comes up, I'd get up and look to see what else is in the box I shipped down here, LOL.

My husband asked me why I read so much when I could write stories I love to read, too. And I told him it was like being a basketball player. If you're always on the court with just yourself, you never improve. If you're on the court with players who are worse than you, you never improve. But if you spend some time on the court with the stars who are the best at their game, you strive to be better yourself every time you get that ball in your hands.

Besides loving the way these authors can transport me to another world, and make me forget everything around me, I love that these authors (and many more) make me want to be a better author. They challenge me to bring out my A-game, to really reach further for that perfect word, or that more complex plot, or wring just a little more emotion out of this scene.

Like that starving man, I'm devouring their words, their fabulous stories and the great lessons both impart to me as an author. And I'm already excited about the next vacation, and making a list of books to bring with me ;-)


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