Susan’s Book Talk: End of Year Round-up


A lot of people who stopped by my Thursday Thirteen yesterday were enthusiastic about my plans to add a Library Thing scroller to my sidebar sometime during the upcoming year. Sounds like you guys need something to fill your time until Trevor’s Song hits the shelves.

In light of that, I thought my book talk today would look back over the 146 books I read in 2006 — 2 more than last year! — and hit the highlights, but skip the lowlights (the 48 I didn’t bother to finish).

I finally got around to reading The Devil Wears Prada — and I surprised myself by loving it. It was one of those books that people either love or hate and I have to say that I got it. Totally. Maybe it’s because I could see myself being Amanda. Maybe it’s because I still aspire to wearing haute couture. I don’t know. But I read this in bed and laughed so hard, I shook the Tour Manager out and onto the floor.

Then I switched gears, per usual, and checked out Marcia Muller‘s Cyanide Wells. I like her SharonMcCone series, but this was actually better. Point Deception was almost as good, but not quite.

Keeping in the thriller vein, next was my second David Liss book, A Conspiracy of Paper. Love love loved this historical thriller! It was a book club selection and I was able to swap a few e-mails with Liss.

I tried my first-ever Nick Hornby book this year, A Long Way Down. I can’t say that I loved it, but it’s sure resonated with me. I have How to be Good on Mt. Read-Me-Now; hopefully I’ll get to it soon. (I should)

Kathy Lette‘s Mad Cows also had me chuckling. Maybe you need to be a mom to appreciate this one; I’m not sure.

In grad school, I took a course in Latin American lit, so revisiting Carlos Fuentes for The Old Gringo was a nice treat. Fascinating book, as was another classic, Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Don’t forget Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.

I caught up on Stephanie Plum this year, and read my first Sue Grafton. (I know, what took me so long? I had trouble believing she’d live up to the hype. She did.) Other authors I revisited: T. Jefferson Parker, Linda Fairstein, Jonathan Kellerman, Jill Churchill.

Ever read a Western? Tabor Evans wrote this series a loooong time ago, called Longarm. I read one, called On the Great Divide, and loved it. That man has more sex than Trevor, I swear it.

My friend CheesyGiraffe (I think) clued me in to Nancy Atherton‘s Aunt Dimity series. Rumor has it that her sales are slipping; why not help her out and expose yourself and a few friends to this fun series? I have a few of these on Mt. TBR; don’t be surprised if they show up as a contest prize along the way (although don’t hold me to that!)

More firsts for me this year: Lisa Scottoline, Stephen Woodworth, and Jodi Picoult. I’ve since collected more of those, too. JA Konrath, Susan Wittig Albert, Daniel Silva, and Rachel Caine all were new to me, and all series I’ll be sticking with.

As she did with To Die For, Joyce Maynard made me cry with The Usual Rules. I was very resistant to any 9-11 fiction, but this was worth it. Thanks to Cheesy (can you tell why I like her so much?) for making me stick with it when I wanted to give up.

I’ll admit it. I read Pamela Anderson’s Star. I loved it. If you need a good, campy beach read, pick it up. So what if it’s a barely fictionalized account of her life? It’s funny as hell and I really hope Pamela was never as naive as Star. The plane scene still cracks me up.

Back to historical fiction with Rebecca Kohn‘s The Gilded Chamber. Esther is my favorite of the Jewish heroines; I often call her the first feminist because she risked being beheaded in order to stand up to her husband, the king, and save the Jews. Kohn did her story justice.

My biggest shock of the year? Loving Nora RobertsNorthern Lights. I didn’t think I’d like it, that it wouldn’t be well-written or that the plot would be predictable. Instead, I couldn’t put it down. Once I was done, I sent it to my friend Dana and I think I just ruined the surprise by saying that…

In a nutshell, that’s the reads of the year. Notice how many mysteries and thrillers are on this list? Just trying to earn my spot among my other Sisters in Crime, although I’m going to try to ease off this genre a bit as 2007 opens; on first awakening the other night and hearing a hooting owl, I was convinced it was a group of bad guys, ready to break in and steal my books.

Happy reading, everyone, and happy 2007.



  1. scooper

    December 29, 2006 10:26 pm

    I keep saying that I’m going to pick up a Nora Roberts book, I just haven’t done it yet. I just might start with this Roberts book.

  2. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 29, 2006 10:28 pm

    If I hadn’t sent it to Dana already, I’d have gladly sent it your way!br /br /It wasn’t entirely not predictable. But it was not predictable enough to make it a good, intriguing read.

  3. cheesygiraffe

    December 30, 2006 12:58 am

    You mention me twice. I’m flattered. 🙂 It wasn’t me that told you about Nancy Atherton though. I think it was Bountifulpots or maybe /I can’t believe you hadn’t read a Sue Grafton until this year. She’s been writing the series since the mid 80’s. lol br /You might want to mention that Stephen Woodworth is having low sales problems too. We want to see more of the Violet series. :)br /I also can’t believe you’ve never read a Nora Roberts. I understand though because of her being prolific you figure most of her books are the same. While I’ve not read a lot of her books under the name Nora Roberts, I have read all of her books under her pen name J.D. Robb. I love the In Death series. Eve Dallas is a kick a$$ cop from the future.

  4. MarciNYC

    December 30, 2006 8:48 am

    Glad to hear you say you liked Kohn’s book (The Gilded Chamber). Even this shiksa has always been fascinated by Esther and her story and I loved the book.

  5. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 30, 2006 10:31 am

    Well, apologies to whoever it was who turned me on to Aunt Dimity — and a huge THANKS, too. br /br /Marci, did I send you one of my extra copies of The Gilded Chamber?br /br /And yes, let’s plug more Woodworth! Good authors should not be victims of sales that don’t meet expectations. They should be nurtured so that their sales grow.

  6. Rene

    December 30, 2006 1:12 pm

    Wow, I don’t read that much. I used to, but as I’ve gotten more involved in everything from kids to writing, my time has been eaten up. I really want to read Jodi Picoult. I’ve never read Nora Roberts although I think her JD Robb books are excellent.

  7. Dana

    December 30, 2006 6:35 pm

    WOW. Thanks. Can’t wait for the book!! I have just started J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I am really enjoying it. I also enjoyed Liss’s book and discovered a new (for me) genre, Historical Thriller Fiction.

  8. Lauren

    December 30, 2006 7:42 pm

    I read this book called Trevor’s Song. Don’t know if you’ve heard of it? It was great! It had me sitting on the couch till wee hours of the morning trying to finish it (and not many books make me do that).br /:)

  9. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 30, 2006 9:06 pm

    a href=””Trevor’s Song/a?br /br /Don’t think I’ve ever heard of it. Kept you up all night to finish it? Hmm. Might be a keeper.

  10. karen!

    December 31, 2006 5:00 pm

    Love the reading roundup!br /br /Just this morning I noticed the Konrath books you sent me hiding on the shelf under the coffee table, I should try to work them into my TBR relatively /br /Happy New Year, everyon!

  11. Chaotic Mom

    December 31, 2006 6:30 pm

    I read this post and thought Holy CRAP! I used to read like this! I know YOU write. Do you write book reviews? Have I missed this? I SO hear you on not finishing those 48 books. When you read a lot, and have a developed taste, you can tell if a book is worth finishing or not. br /br /I will have to read Devil Wears Prada now. Haven’t even seen the movie, no way could I ever wear couture now or probably ever, but it sounds like fun reading. 😉

  12. Susan Helene Gottfried

    December 31, 2006 7:22 pm

    Hey, CM! I’ve just started writing book reviews (finally, a number of my friends would say, I’m sure) — check out a href=””Front Street Reviews/a for my first review — The Heebie Jeebies at CBGB’s. It was fun; I hope there are more to /br /And yes, read Prada. It was SO much fun, I can’t tell you!

  13. MarciNYC

    January 2, 2007 5:53 pm

    You know, I’m still not sold on Prada – but I’m considering it based on your comments. :)br /br /As for “The Gilded Chamber” – that was a discovery of mine either at a library sale or a charity shop in the UK (can’t remember which – but it was acquired c. Nov 05, which meant either I got it the morning I left for my UK trip or else while I was in York). A danged good /br /Just finished up “The Fourth Queen” by Debbie Taylor (which WAS a UK charity shop acquisition) and listed it both on BOokMooch and PBS. No takers yet. It’s the story of a runaway Scottish gal who’s kidnapped by Barbary pirates and then sold into the harem of the Emperor of Morocco (based on actual events, but liberties were taken). I enjoyed it and it opened up my eyes to another culture – not to find some non-fiction.

  14. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 2, 2007 5:56 pm

    Is that a hint that I should go mooch or PBS that book from you???

  15. MarciNYC

    January 2, 2007 9:55 pm

    hahahahah… just tossing out a worm. Early bird gets it. (Seriously, if you want it, I’ll yank it from my shelves and send it your way. 🙂

  16. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 2, 2007 11:01 pm

    Oh, you know I would if things here were a little more under control. It’s scary, how these books reproduced…

  17. MarciNYC

    January 4, 2007 7:26 am

    They’re like rabbits, eh? I have the same problem, but working on it.. Down to only TWO bookcases now. br /br /Off to read the recent blog entries now. 🙂

  18. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 4, 2007 8:26 am

    Two bookcases? I’m impressed!br /br /Just … stay away from bookstores and those sales, huh? Both of them are VERY bad for the inventory!

  19. Janie Hickok Siess, Esq.

    January 8, 2007 3:29 am

    So many people I know rave about Nora Roberts. I really have to try reading some of her stuff. As soon as I get through the stack of books I already have!

  20. Susan Helene Gottfried

    January 8, 2007 8:38 am

    “As soon as I get through the stacks of books I have,” huh? Won’t happen. Trust me. The books multiply when you’re not looking. br /br /Thanks for coming back! Hope to see you again on Thursday!

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