Books I Wish I’d Written: 2012

As I explained last year, my year-end list of books is not a best-of-the-year list, or a most-under-rated list, or a most-over-hyped list, or any of those other lists you see out there.  I’ll let the experts put those out.  Instead, my list is very personal, and this year very brief.  Not because I didn’t read some great books in 2012 (though I didn’t fall in love with many, I have to admit).  But because there just weren’t that many that made me want to give away everything I own to have written them.

Neither of the books on my little list was even published in 2012.  One I read early this year, one I just finished.  One is a collection of short fiction, one a novel.  The thing they have in common, though, is that they are the books that spoke to me, that resonated in my soul.  Written the way I want to write one day.  They are my goal to reach for, my holy grail of writing.

1)      Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, Kevin Wilson. Last year Wilson’s book Family Fang was at the top of my “wish I’d written that” list.  This year it’s his older collection of short stories.  While there is a feeling of sameness about some of the stories, I think the book as a whole rises above this complaint.  I’m not sure what it is about his work that I am so drawn to.  Maybe it’s because, as I said in a previous post, his stories are quirky and funny, often strange and sometimes sad.  But they are also kind – it’s obvious he has great compassion for his characters.  Something all writers should remember.

2)      Little Bee, Chris Cleave.  This book was published four years ago or so, and I never read it because, for some reason, the cover turned me off.  Thanks to Nancy Lauer for giving me her copy and telling me I had to read it.  That’s what’s so great about having bookish friends – they introduce me to books I might never have read without their recommendations.  Little Bee is one of those, and I’m really grateful.  The writing is beautiful, the characters so memorable, so real, the story itself so heart-breaking and yet somehow hopeful.  Here is, once again, an author who cares deeply about his characters.  There is great depth of emotion here but without melodrama, and multi-layered characters who are neither all good nor all bad but a mass of contradictions, as most humans are.  That’s what I’m reaching for in my own work.

Both of these books have humor and tragedy, sadness and hope.  What more can we ask of literature?

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One thought on “Books I Wish I’d Written: 2012

  1. I may frame what you wrote. Love being described as bookish – I feel smarter already! I’m glad you loved Little Bees, as you said it was written so well and so timely too. Have a very Merry Christmas and talk to you soon I hope!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Dec 22, 2012, at 11:32 PM, Christy Strick wrote:

    WordPress.com christystrick posted: “As I explained last year, my year-end list of books is not a best-of-the-year list, or a most-under-rated list, or a most-over-hyped list, or any of those other lists you see out there. Ill let the experts put those out. Instead, my list is very pe”

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