What do you read?

I recently read an article about female writers are on the decline. With the current push for diverse books I’m a tad skeptical. I admit, most of the books I read are cozy mystery books. That genre seems to be mainly female authors and protagonists. Not always.

This year I have read 19: 2 books were written by men and 17 were by women, including 1 by a wife/husband team.

So I decided to take a look a the books I read in 2017.

In 2017 I read 96 books ūüôā

Authors:

female- 66

male- 28

both authored same book- 1

Yes, I realize I my math¬†doesn‚Äôt add up. I missed a book somewhere. It’s safe to say it was probably written by a woman.

Because I’m avoiding my WIP, let’s go one step further and look at the genres I read. This should be interesting.

Genres:

mystery- 38

fantasy/sci-fi- 11

non-fiction- 11

fiction- 7

YA- 21

children/middle grade- 6

romance- 1

WOW! I actually thought I read more fantasy than that. Well, YA is fantasy…mostly. Only 1 romance! Yeah, I don’t read romance.

And yes, I’m still missing a book somewhere… **sigh**

Anyway. For even more fun let’s see how these books were published.

Publication:

traditional- 75

indie- 21

That time my math works!

What does all this mean? It means I read a lot of books by and about women knee deep in dead bodies!

Take away:

I don’t know if there is a decline in women writer’s. I don’t have a problem finding new books by female authors. When choosing a book, I don’t look at gender or skin color of the writer or protagonist. I didn’t break down race because I’m pretty sure it’s overwhelmingly white.¬† And I would have to think really hard about each book and that’s too much work this morning. ¬†If you went with me to the book store/library, you would see me walk down the aisles, picking books up to gaze at the cover and title. I might look at the author but I can guarantee I never read the back blurb. I apologize to all the authors. I know how hard those back blurbs are to write.

So, my reading isn’t very diverse. I lean toward southern mysteries centering around a female protagonist. If you happen to know about a mystery featuring a non-white protagonist let me know.

All this talk of books makes me want to go to the library.

Catch you later,

-CK

 

 

Reading, the gift that keeps giving

I was reminded this week how reading influences every segment of our lives. I read for enjoyment. I love it. My oldest took slowly to reading, it took awhile for her to find the books that would eventually light her imagination and spark the reading passion. My youngest was different. After months of trying to devour books (literally!) she discovered reading them was more fun. She will read anything.

Both girls are now in middle school. Fun! My oldest brought home a 6 page study guide for Scholars Bowl. Ouch! Tiny print, front and back. Being the nerd I am, I got excited. This is our first experience with Scholars Bowl and don’t know what to expect. They are still weeding out the group before they keep the last few brave kids willing to take on the challenge.

What does reading have to do with this?

My kids love fantasy books. They are/have read the Percy Jackson series and Harry Potter, among others. As I flipped through the information, yes I was giddy. The first part covers…..Greek mythology. My youngest couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.¬† More than a few of the monsters listed are mentioned prominently in Percy Jackson.¬† Thank you Rick Riordan for helping prepare her for this part of the challenge.

The next section included well known authors/books in Speculative fiction. Such as Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G.Wells, etc.. My youngest almost burst a blood vessel over that one. She loves Verne.

There were other pages of non reading related topics, but the point I am trying to make is this: Reading has already prepared them for learning the material. They’ve been exposed to the subject out of there own exploration of the library and personal interests. If they didn’t read for enjoyment, their world would be so much smaller.

As Thanksgiving draws near I am thankful that my children enjoy reading and that they have access to books at home, school, and the local library.

As a writer, this encourages me. In the age of instant gratification and hi tech toys, it’s nice to know that the future generation still reads.

How has reading opened your world?

-CK

 

The Cookbook

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I know cookbooks are not something normally discussed on fiction writer blogs, but I love cookbooks.  I have been known to read them for fun.  Especially, the ones that have family or regional history. You can learn  a lot, beyond just cooking.  My husband built me a cabinet, just for my cookbooks. OK, I might need a 12 step program.

There is a point, I promise.¬† This week I was given a beautiful covered casserole dish, for my birthday.¬† No laughing. So of course, I immediately began thinking of things I could make in it.¬† I didn’t go straight to my cookbooks, no I turned on my laptop and went to Pinterest. It wasn’t until later that I realized I haven’t used my cookbooks in months.¬† I go straight to Pinterest or some other online resource for recipes.

In response to that realization, I made a point of planning to cook something out of one of my cookbooks each night.  What does all of this mean?

It means, I’m no expert, that peeps are now looking to the web more than grannies tried and true cookbook. I wonder if this change is proven by cookbook sales.¬† Unlike regular books, cookbooks tend to be photo heavy.¬† I know I prefer cookbooks with a photo for every recipe.¬† I want a visual reference proving my Croquembouche is supposed to look that way. Or that my Flan fell flat and is an udder failure.

Pictures are key!

Cooking blogs have figured that out.  They can take an eternity to load, because they are so heavy with photos. They take a photo of the ingredients and then of every step until the very end.  So, are traditional cookbooks dead?

I hope not.¬† I have spent many hours pouring over beautiful morsels to make.¬† My children have enjoyed picking out sweets to make for birthdays, Christmas, and school events. It’s not quite the same thing, huddling around the laptop.

So in case you were wondering, here are my top 5 go to Cookbooks:

  1. Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.¬† You know the red and white checked one your mother, and possibly your grandmother, owned.¬† It’s a great starter book, with plenty of photos.
  2. The Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and etc… This is the hands down best book.¬† If you only own one cookbook, this is it.¬† It covers techniques and everything.¬† Sadly, no pictures.
  3. The Thousand Recipe Chinese Cookbook, by Gloria Bley Miller.¬† Again no pictures, but this is by far the best Chinese cookbook.¬† Each recipe has plenty of variations to chose from, so it’s never the same thing twice.¬† Heat up the wok and get chopping.
  4. Chocolate, by Nick Malgieri.  Do I really have to explain this one! Plenty of scrumptious, drool inducing photos.
  5. Martha Stewart’s Cookies.¬† OK.¬† I’m not always a fan of Martha, but this is the best cookie book ever. Lot’s of photos.¬† Santa’s favorites are bound to be inside.

There are many other favorites I could add to the list, but these 5 cover the basics.  These are the ones I would take with me, if I was given a limit.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?

CK

 

 

Why I read what I read-Fantasy

I started reading¬† mysteries (still love them) then I moved to bodice rippers (moved beyond that). Years later, I discovered fantasy.¬† Beyond fairy tales the first fantasy I read was Tolkien’s¬†The Hobbit.¬† From there I moved into Harry Potter, The Inheritance Saga, The Lightening Thief,¬† Narnia…¬† Do you see the trend?¬† Most of my fantasy has been limited to middle readers and YA.¬† I’m not complaining.¬† I love the writing and the subject matter.¬† I also enjoy the lack of sex and language.¬† I live with a little book worm who will devour any book left lying around. ¬† I love climbing into a new world and exploring it, playing each scene out in my head.¬† Non-adult¬† fantasy can be very rich with complex characters. Snape was complex.¬† The reader is torn between hating him and loving him and his true loyalties¬† are tangled until the very end. I’ve also found world building to be well thought out and logical for the story.¬† I wanted to live in Narnia and Alagaesia.¬† Yes, you do run into “formula” books, but those can be found in all genres.

Granted, in most of these types of books the writer explains more.¬† That doesn’t bother me.¬† Nor does it bother me that most of the protagonists are young adults.¬† Let’s face it most adults wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation with a talking lion.¬† Maybe it’s because I taught middle school, but I like kid lit.¬† That being said, I would love to find a rich, layered grownup fantasy series.¬† One that will send me to the book store and willingly plop down cash for the newest release. That hasn’t happened since¬† Potter and the Inheritance Saga finished up.

The success of The Hunger Games introduced me to the futuristic dystopian fantasy of YA.¬† (I’ll keep my politics to myself about the future of America.)¬† While it lacked warm and fuzzy it was fascinating and tragic.¬† I think reading too much of this would make me depressed, I did love it (and the movies).¬† That of course led to Divergent.¬† Again, great but depressing.¬† No, I don’t have to have a happy ending, but a small silver lining wouldn’t be bad.

I don’t read horror.¬† I don’t like to be scared.¬† I know what monster lies beneath my bed and as long as I feed him Oreos we’re OK.¬† In college I made the mistake of following a day of reading Poe with The X-Files.¬† I’m adult enough to admit I had nightmares.¬† I did enjoy reading King’s Firestarter.¬† That’s as far as I go.

Earlier this Spring, I decided to find a fantasy series written for adults.¬† I’m still looking.¬† I do enjoy a good dragon tale, so I checked out a few ladies known for fantasy.¬† I enjoyed the books, but not enough to invest more time in other titles.¬† (Sad face.)

Then I thought, I love Star Trek, maybe I should look into science fiction.  Nope, I found out I like to watch my sci-fi over trying to decipher the jargon.  My next try was a fantasy magazine.  I was so excited to get it home and start reading.  It scared me- leave it at that.

My last trip to the library, I searched the aisles looking for the yellow fantasy tag.¬† I was rewarded with a¬† few books I really liked. The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney is great and I am looking forward to the next two.¬† I don’t know if I should tell¬† you why, I don’t want to ruin it.¬† My favorite mythical creature is involved, I’ll leave it at that.¬† I’ve also enjoyed several of Carolyn Turgeon’s books.¬† She takes your classic fairy tales and gives it a good spin.

These are all great reads, but I am still craving an epic fantasy.¬† My mind is looking for a certain book and I can’t find it. (yes, I know I’ve heard that if you can’t find it-write it)¬† If you have a favorite fantasy (not the one turned into a cable show) post it in the comments.¬† I need a good read.

CK