The house is quiet. My in-laws took C. to Lake Isabella before flying back to NC tomorrow.
I’m catching up on book news (the New York Times’ 100 most notable books of the year, the Good Read’s picks and NPR’s new book concierge) and excitedly picking what to read next, including Edwidge Danicat’s Claire of the Sea Light, Elizabeth Strout’s The Burgess Boys and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.
This year, I’ve spent countless hours engrossed in gripping stories that transport me to another place: Jumpha Lahiri’s Lowland about brothers from India who take drastically different paths, Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones about a young teen who’s secretly pregnant, poor and faces a hurricane, Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch about a young boy who survives a terrorist attack in a museum and steals a famous piece of art, and Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, a mystical story about a couple in Alaska in their 50s who wanted kids but couldn’t have them and then a girl visits them with the snow.
I’ve discovered short-story masters like George Saunders, Shirley Jackson and Charles Baxter. I’ve studied the craft, and I wrote my first short story — and have realized just how far I have to go to be a better writer.
I was an English major, but not knowing what to do with that degree, I got my master’s in journalism and worked in news for years. I loved the people, the challenge, the excitement — but I always suspected that my heart lies with books. And now that I’m away from the working world, I have confirmed this suspicion.
So while I relish the quiet, I’m reflecting on what — and who got me here. I’m in the desert because I have an adventurous husband. I’m in the desert to take a break from the city madness and allow myself to be home — guilt-free — with my little boy who lights up a room. But there is so much more to me than C. and A., so I’m soul-searching where I get meaning beyond my family. And, at my core, I know one of them — along with travel and pottery — is literary fiction. And I’m glad I know that in a steadfast way so I can think about my next steps when we leave the desert.
What are the best books you’ve read this year?