Slow Down and Read

Slow Down and Read becomes Get Busy and Work (or what I read this summer)

At the end of May, I decided to have a summer committed to reading. I called it my Slow Down and Read campaign, member: one. I've been so busy with life, kids, wedding details, promoting, and writing, that I sort of lost track of my love of reading. This summer I committed myself to reading. I had a goal of five books. How did I do?

Here's what I read from May 28th to August 29th. (I'm including titles I narrated, because I still had to read them. I actually had to read them twice, some of them three times if I did the abridged version.)

1.  "Split Second" by Alex Kava (narrated)

2. "The Silent Girl" by Tess Geritsen (narrated)

3. "Sucker for a Hot Rod" by Joselyn Vaughn

4. "Only Mine" by Susan Mallery (narrated)

5. "We Need to Talk about Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

6. "Only Yours" by Susan Mallery

7. "The Tiger's Wife" by Tea Obreht (listened to the audio version)

8. "Matched" by Allie Condie

9. "Carry Yourself Back to Me" by Deborah Reed (narrated)

10. "Only His" by Susan Mallery (narrated)

11. "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Eagan

12. "Robopocalpsye: A Novel" by Daniel H. Wilson (listend to the audio version)

13. "Christmas at Timberwoods" by Fern Michaels (narrated)

14. "Before I Go To Sleep" by S. J. Watson (listened to the audio version)

15. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

16. "Lotte's Country Kitchen" by Lotte Duncan

17. "The Fiction Class" by Susan Breen


I also read 358 pages of "Sarum: The Novel of England" but that mofo is 900+ pages long and I just can't finish it.

All in all, this summer was a huge success and reconnected me to storytelling and words. My favorite books this summer were "We Need To Talk About Kevin" #1 and then "A Visit From The Goon Squad" #2. I also really enjoyed the YA book "Matched". "The Fiction Class" was a sleeper hit for me and I really connected to the simple yet elegant story.

Reading isn't over for me, but I'm thirty days from a wedding, two chapters from finishing book #4, starting teaching again, and in general Back To Crazy. But, oh, what a summer.

What did you read? Or what's on your list? I'm going to start reading up on women and madness in literature, just in case I get to teach the class I'm hoping to next semester. And who doesn't appreciate a good crazy woman, especially in a fine novel?


Review "The Tiger's Wife"

For my Slow Down And Read campaign, I'm slowly working my way through a list of summer reads. Some new, some classic, some literary, some popular. And some of the books I'm listening to as audio versions. This way I can read one book and listen to another. Here's my review of Tiger's Wife:


The Tiger's WifeThe Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I sorta don't get it. True, I did listen to the audio version and that can be different. I don't know. I just expected...more. I thought that there was some terrific writing in it (and the voice of the grandfather will give you chills) but it felt really fractured to me and the payoff wasn't what I was hoping for. The narrator is enjoyable. I think she narrated the Hunger Games series too and I like her style. I liked Obreht's blending of fairytale/folklore with aspects of the war, but all in all, the piece felt too disjointed for me to be left with much of a payoff. It is enjoyable and worthwhile. Maybe all the hype just made me think it was going to be something more than it was.

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Review of "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver

For the summer, I've committed myself to my own plan to "Slow Down And Read" and I have a list of ten books I'm working on. They're a combination of romance, literary, mystery, historical, and just plain entertaining. This morning, I finished reading "We Need To Talk About Kevin" by Lionel Shriver. Here is my review (as posted on GoodReads)

We Need to Talk About Kevin (P.S.)We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a brilliant novel. I don't say that lightly. I mean it. It's brilliant. And I think Lionel Shriver is a genius. Her work is like reading a mixture of Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Dorothy Parker. She is relentless, fierce, and writes about the underbelly of the psyche. She is also lyrical. "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is not an easy read. The subject matter is daunting (a woman reflects on the signs in her son's life that would lead him to committing a massacre at her school); the voice is ruthless (with lines like when my son was born "I felt nothing"); and still, the piece is utterly compelling.

It leads one to look at the root of evil. Is evil incarnate or is it created? Is a sociopath born or made? Should a child (essentially) be held accountable for his own monstrosity?

It also echoes fears every mother possesses from gestation to the adulthood of a child: What if I give birth to someone who is damaged? Is it my fault? How much of a child's behavior is because of the mother?

The novel plays on fears, but it also explores our own humanity.

A few years ago, I was booked to narrate Shriver's "A Post Birthday World". It was, like this novel, challenging but in the end, thoroughly rewarding both intellectually and emotionally. I haven't been booked to narrate another of her books (though I so wish I would be), so instead I'm vowing to read everything she's ever written. She is not a writer that makes you feel good. No. She challenges you. She gets in your face and makes you uncomfortable. She demands that you analyze your own life and your own choices. For this reason, I can't seem to put her work down. I'm completely, reluctantly, enthralled.

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My Slow Down and Read Summer List

I’m sitting in my Intro To Lit class while students are writing. I’ve graded all my papers, prepped for next week, and suddenly realize, I don’t have anything to do. Is this true? Is this possible? HOLY SHIT!


Let me just breathe for a second here.


To look busy and smart, I’m blogging instead.


Remember when I talked to you about my Slow Down and Read idea? It’s shimmering just before me. I can almost touch the time where I will have real, actual time to read again. FOR PLEASURE. I have one more week of narrating to go and on the days I don’t teach, I’ll be reading. That’s right. Me, a book, and if the kids are at their dad’s then I’ll have a mojito sitting next to me.

Here’s my list of books I’m going to try and read this summer and why I chose them:


1. “Sucker for a Hot Rod” by Joselyn Vaughn. I’m actually almost finished with this. The writer is in my writing group so I wanted to check out her work. So far it’s fun with great characters and it makes me wonder why you can’t find her work next to other bestselling authors that I narrate for like Susan Mallery and Debbie Macomber.

2. “We Need To Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver. A couple of years ago I was booked to read Shriver’s “The Post-Birthday World”. I don’t know if I did the book justice, but it was a beautiful story. I still think about it. So I want to read all of her books, and I’ll start with this one.

3. “Sarum: The Novel of England” by Edward Rutherford. Someone suggested this one to me and it seems like a perfect summer read. I’ll read it while drinking a Pims. Huh. Maybe I should put a drink with all these books.

4. “Punished” by Brynn Paulin. She’s another writer in my group and is one of the topsellers of erotic fiction. No joke. Like #1 or #2. So I’m going to read Punished because every good girl likes to feel naughty.

5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee because it’s been a good decade since I’ve read it and I’m curious how the nearly-forty-year-old me will compare to the twenty-something and the teenager readers I used to be (you know, the other times when I read the novel). I should probably revisit “Anne of Green Gables” too.

That’s it for now. I still want to read “Bridge of Sighs” by Richard Russo, and another classic novel, and stuff by C.S. Lewis, and there’s a couple new ones out, but I’m going to start with 5. Five books I can handle.

So what’s on your summer Slow Down and Read list? Have you made one yet?

And if you're wondering the drinks...

1.) Beer

2.) Scotch

3.) Pimms

4.) Any heavy alcohol served as a shot

5.) Long Island Iced (sweet) Tea