The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 31, 2012

Carol Stark: Start off the new year with list of good books

“The man who doesn’t read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” — Mark Twain

By Carol Stark
Globe Editor

— I have friends and relatives who say they don’t enjoy reading books. I usually tell them they just haven’t found the right books yet.

Once you discover a book that seems as if it has been written exactly for you, a whole new world opens its doors.

This is the time of year when some of you will be making resolutions and others will be betting on how long it will take you to break them. Give yourself a late Christmas gift — instead of making resolutions, make a book list for 2013.

I did that last year and shared my picks with you in this column. There were about a dozen books on the list and, with the exception of Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast,” I read all of them.

Finding a good book is not my problem. Diversifying my reading habits is the challenge. When left to my own devices, I can read nothing but books by one author in a year’s time, if the author is prolific enough. I still remember the year of Anne Rice and her vampires and witches. That was a very dark year.

Creating a balanced list of good reads sometimes takes a little help. I’ve supplanted my own picks for the new year with some suggestions from a few avid readers.

Joplin author Veda Jones suggested “The Greater Journey,” a nonfiction book by David McCullough. It’s about American artists in Paris in the 1800s. What makes the book fascinating, she said, is that many of the artists’ works are on display at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark.

It’s on my list, Veda.

Next, I turned to co-worker Scott Meeker, the Globe’s enterprise editor. Some of the best books I’ve read have been recommended by Scott. This year he offered up “Defending Jacob,” by William Landay. It is described as “a fast, compelling and compulsively readable courtroom drama,” about a prosecuting attorney whose son is accused of murder.

Then there’s Carolyn Trout’s suggestion: “Bring up the Bodies,” by Hilary Mantel. Carolyn, a retired librarian who worked at Joplin Public Library, reads the best books. This one is historical fiction, and it’s Mantel’s second book in a trilogy. Carolyn loved the first book, “Wolf Hall,” and plans to read the second this year. The sequel to “Wolf Hall” delves into the heart of Tudor history and the downfall of Anne Boleyn.

Tricky, Carolyn. Looks like I will be reading both this year.

I have also selected “Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn, for my 2013 reading list. I likely will read it first, as I bought the thriller four months ago and just haven’t had time for it. It’s one of those books that my friends say will keep me up all night.

Revisiting old friends is always good. That’s why I will re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” in 2013. I saw the first of the three movies that are being planned for release. The movie was riveting, but I’m sure a journey through the pages will be just as exciting and will probably take less time.

In the same vein, I also plan to reread “Call of the Wild,” by Jack London. I hope it’s still as good as I remember.

I borrowed a Jim Butcher novel from my friend, Richard “Stretch” Good, recently and I’m loving it. So, I plan to read several of the Harry Dresden crime novels. By the way, Dresden is a wizard. It’s a bit of a twist. I’m just about finished with “Storm Front,” and will launch into “Fool Moon” next. Some of you may remember the TV series “Dresden Files.” It didn’t really take off, perhaps because it was ahead of its time.

And, of course, I can’t leave Hemingway hanging. So, “A Moveable Feast” it is, just like my 2013 book list.

Happy New Year to all of you.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.