The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 6, 2014

Carol Stark: 2014 can't go wrong with a reading resolution

— I have some columns I look forward to writing more than others. This is one of those. In fact, it is probably my favorite column of the year.

It’s just a few days into 2014, and while others are already regretting their New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been anticipating my single goal of the year that I feel confident in obtaining.

It’s simple: I resolve to read some good books.

Don’t scoff. It’s a real resolution. I’ve been making it for years. But two or three years ago, I upped the ante and wrote down the books I would read so I wouldn’t fall into my trap of finding one good author and spending the year reading everything that individual had written. I do that a lot, by the way.

Last year’s “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn was a treat. I also liked “Defending Jacob” by William Landay. But I didn’t love it.

I reread one of my old favorites, “The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London. You can never go wrong with reading something you love several times over.

I even added one to the list that was loaned to me by co-worker Andra Stefanoni. “Cottage for Sale, Must be Moved” is a memoir by Kate Whouley. It’s the true story of a woman who saw a classified ad for an abandoned vacation cottage and bought it and attached it to her tiny house in Cape Cod. She explains in great detail how she won over her neighbors, planning and zoning boards and all the people she employed to move the cottage. It was a fascinating and sometimes bittersweet journey of one woman’s dream to turn a house into her home. Thanks, Andra. That reminds me, though, I bet you would like to have it back.

Then, thanks to friend Richard “Stretch” Good, I ran amok. He lent me “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher, and now I’m on No. 9 in the wizard series.

That means for the second year in a row, I did not read Ernest Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast.” Call me irresponsible, but I’m blaming Stretch.

About a week ago, I put out the word that I was looking for some recommendations for my 2014 reading list. I specified that since I read nonfiction all day long, I wanted fiction or at least nonfiction that is an interesting read.

I’ve already purchased Kit Brother’s suggestion of “The Art Forger” by B.A. Shapiro. It’s a fiction thriller that takes its plot from the real theft of 13 pieces of art in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. I’m confident that Kit, a former Globe reporter, has steered me in the right direction for my first read of the new year.

Seven friends suggested a book called “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt. From reading the reviews and comments, it looks like I should be prepared for “a haunted odyssey through present day America and a drama of enthralling force and acuity.”

Seven friends can’t all be wrong, can they?

Definitely on my list is Amy Tan’s new book, “The Valley of Amazement.” The author of “The Joy Luck Club” is one of my favorites. I didn’t need a friend’s recommendation. I have planned on reading this since it came out in 2013.

I’m counting on Lee Child writing another book about my favorite character, Jack Reacher, in 2014. All I can find is that he will have one coming in August. I’ll be lined up with the likes of a lot of friends waiting for that one. If you are looking for a new read, try a Lee Child book.

Author, fabric artist and former Joplin librarian Joan Banks recommends “Driftless” by David Rhodes. I’m fascinated by the back story on this author. Rhodes’s first three novels were published in the mid ’70s, and he was heralded for his work. Then he was in a motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. It wasn’t until 2009 that he would write another book. Thanks, Joan; I’m looking forward to this one.

Sue Adams suggests “We are Water” by Wally Lamb. The reviews look good on this one, Sue. I’m adding it to the 2014 list.

I shall reread my favorite book of all time, “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving. I still am moved by the genius of this novel. If you haven’t read it, do so. But don’t call and complain to me until you have read at least the first 100 pages. Irving takes awhile to get going.

Will I get to “A Moveable Feast” this year? I don’t know.

I’ll let your know how this story ends in 2015.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe.

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