Friday, January 13, 2012


Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. My goal every year is to try and read at least one book by my ever-growing list of favorite authors. I have between 80 and 90 favorites right now although some have died and I have read all their works. As I finish reading each book, I list it in a notebook of books read each month and list it again under the author’s name in another section of the notebook. In another notebook, I write reviews of each book read and give them a letter grade. At the end of the year, I make a list of all the A+ books that I had enjoyed greatly.

I didn’t read as many books as I had planned in 2011 but I did have more A+ books than any other year. In the past I would list the top ten books and sometimes I had a hard time reaching at least 10 A+ books. But last year was different. I counted 25 A+ books out of only 64 read! (My goal each year is to read at least 100 books but I don’t always reach it.) And there was no way that I could determine which one was better than another. In years past, my favorite book of the year would be number one, of course, and so on. But not in 2011! I enjoyed each of the 25 books for different reasons.

My favorite genre is mystery: all kinds of mysteries from cozies to police procedurals to detective stories to bloody slash and stab to international intrigue, etc. In other words, all the sub-genres that fall under mystery. But I do read other genres, especially ones written by author friends: romance, paranormal or supernatural, historical. I prefer fiction but do read an occasional nonfiction.

Of the books read last year, only one was nonfiction: The Autobiography of Agatha Christie. And what a book it was! It was the second nonfiction book of hers that I had read and my main complaint with her was that she didn’t always bother with dates, making it difficult at times to figure out when certain episodes in her life took place. But in her case, that was a minor complaint. Her life was extraordinary and so much different than what I thought it was. While reading her many, many novels, I always pictured a lady with leisure time sitting at an old manual typewriter pecking out her manuscripts. Nothing could have been farther from the truth!

Although many of my favorite books of 2011 were by my traditional favorite authors (Stuart Woods, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Sue Grafton, Carola Dunn, Jack Higgins, Marja McGraw, Clive Cussler, Elmore Leonard, Janet Evanovich), last year I discovered new authors also or rather new to me: Wanda Luttrell, Stieg Larsson, Suzanne Forster, LJ Sellers, Kate Morton, Jasper Fforde, Pat Bertram, Beth Anderson, Jean Joachim, Marilyn Levinson.

My goal in 2012 is to read at least 100 books. When I was younger I could read a book a day but now my eyes cannot handle that much reading. I am looking forward to reading my favorite authors and discovering new ones. In other words, I hope this will be a greatly enjoyable murderous year!


Jean said...

Love your list and am honored to find my name there. Thank you! Please give me the name of Christie's autobiography. I love her books, have read every one I can get my hands on and would love to read the one you discussed. Good luck with your blog. BTW, Loved Caribbean Summer! Great romance and mytery.

Palmaltas said...

Thank you! And you're welcome. The title is simply AGATHA CHRISTIE An Autobiography.

marja said...

I'm honored to be included on your list with such wonderful authors. Thank you!

I'm an avid reader, too, but it seems like I just don't have enough time to read as much as I'd like to. I hope one day you'll share a little of what you read about Agatha Christie with us.

Sometimes people forget that most writers are also avid readers. Very nice blog.

Palmaltas said...

Thank you, Marja! I set aside every afternoon to read. Mornings are for writing. Although I have written about Dame Agatha before, I haven't written much about her autobiography, which is fascinating to say the least. She wrote a previous one about her time in the Middle East with her second, younger husband, an archaeologist. If I remember correctly it was titled Come Tell Me How you Live and I think took place just before WWII.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Thanks so much for including my name among your new mystery authors. I, too, love to read mysteries as well as write them. And I want to read the Agatha Christie biography you mentioned. One book I think all mystery writers would enjoy is a nonfiction book--The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. A murder is committed in Victorian England, and a famous detective, Jonathan Whicher, sets out to solve the case. The book reads like a novel. In fact, Whicher became a prototype for detectives appearing in some English novels.

Palmaltas said...

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale sounds like a book I would enjoy very much. I am going to look for it. Thanks so much for suggesting it. The Agatha Christie autobiography may be hard to find. A friend gave it to me and I think she found it online in England.