my top books of 2018

My Top Books of 2018

top books of 2018As we close out another year of reading, I find myself with a renewed appreciation and vigor for the importance and the blessing of reading.

Having devoured books at the hungry pace of 100+ a year for at least fifteen years (I didn’t start keeping track until 2002), I’ve been feeling increasingly uncomfortable and even disturbed by the fact that my reading has fallen off to around 50 books in the last couple years. This year—a year of big personal changes in my exterior world—was a year in which I struggled with the desire to even just sit down with a book. There was so much I wanted to read, but whenever it came down to it, I had a hard time doing it. (Cue inner panic!) Thanks to a Scribd subscription, I ended up listening to lots of audio books this year, which saw me safely through (and with three more books to my name than last year’s total!).

As I now close out the year, having settled in after a big move, I ecstatically find myself returning to a “reading space” for the first time in several years. Part of this, for me, was realizing and coming to peace with the fact that I will probably never reproduce my previous decade of “information inhalation.” I’m incredibly glad to get to carry the fruits of that decade with me for the rest of my life, but I’m no longer in a place where I’m seeking that of kind of prolificacy just for the sake of prolificacy. I’m learning (in no small part due to some of the books I’ll mention later in this post) to focus on turning my reading back into a joyous pastime rather than just another thing to triumphantly check off my to-do list.

One thing I’ve done is to change up my reading routine to make it more flexible within my daily schedule, sprinkling a chapter of this book and a chapter of that book here and there, while devoting evening reading solely to whatever is completely holding my attention (William Goldman’s hilarious Adventures in the Screen Trade at the moment).

So all in all, I count this one of my best reading years, more for how it’s ending than for how it actually went. That said, despite my struggles with reading this year, I find that it was a year rich in some incredible books (mostly the non-fiction), ones that I daresay will stick with me for the rest of my life.

Following you can find my top books of 2018: 5 Fiction Books, 5 Writing Books, and 5 General Non-Fiction Books.

But, first, the stats:

Total books read: 51

Fiction to non-fiction ratio: 28:23

Male to female author ratio: 28:23

Top 5 genres: Romance (with 9 books), Writing How-To (with 7), Fantasy (with 6), History (with 6), and Self-Development (with 5).

Number of books per rating: 5 stars (4), 4 stars (19), 3 stars (20), 2 stars (8), 1 star (0).

Top 5 Fiction Books

Honestly, it wasn’t a great fiction year for me (which, you may remember, is what inspired last week’s post: The 10-Step Checklist to Writing an Above-Average Novel). I didn’t read anything that ranked higher than four stars (out of five), but the following are my favorites of the bunch, all solid and worth reading.

1. The Commodore by Patrick O’Brian—Read 12-3-18 

Commodore Patrick O'Brian

It is hard to overestimate my adoration for Patrick O’Brian’s unique, endearing, intelligent, and humorous Aubrey/Maturin series, about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars (brilliantly adapted into what is also one of my all-time favorite movies, Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). The latter books (this is the seventeenth installment) don’t have quite the same sharpness as the earlier installments, but this episode is as charming as ever, although featuring one of O’Brian’s more rambling and anticlimactic plots.

2. The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski—Read 7-28-18 

Last Wish Witcher Andrzej Sapkowski

I got a lot of enjoyment out of this series of connected short stories, set in an epic fantasy world. The protagonist is a great character, the settings well-realized, and the action interesting. It’s the same ol’, same ol’—and yet totally not. (I listened to this on audio, and the narrator was excellent.)

3. The Last Convertible by Anton Myrer—Read 3-6-18 

Anton Myrer Last Convertible

This one isn’t as razor-sharp as Myrer’s war critique Once an Eagle (which was my #1 book in 2016), but it’s still an interesting look at both the World War II generation and the progression of life from idealistic youth to realistic middle age. It just barely avoids being soapy in places, but is always enjoyable.

4. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton—Read 6-1-18 

Age of Innocence Edith Wharton

After taking a break from the classics for about six months this year, this was my first foray back. After all that time away, it was surprisingly comforting to be once again surrounded by the lush reliability of excellent storytelling and powerful wordcraft. This is a book well-deserving of its acclaim: a societal critique that remains pertinent and thought-provoking even today.

5. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells—Read 8-9-18 

war of the worlds hg wells

This book is rightfully a classic. Presented in hyper-realistic details, it is a gripping and chilling account. It lacks something in the way of character or, really, plot, but it’s still fantastic.

Top 5 Writing Books

In contrast to my somewhat ho-hum experience with fiction this year, my experience with non-fiction was fantastic. This is particularly true of writing-craft books—which account for all my five-star ratings this year. I’ve decided to divide the writing-craft books into their own category, so I can also share some of my non-writing favorites (see General Non-Fiction below), but, first, here is the best of the best of my reading this year.

1. Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle—Read 7-18-18 

Walking on Water Madeleine L'Engle

This book is an intuitive artist’s dream: incredibly beautiful, insightful, and inspiring. I listened to it on audio the first time around, but before I was even halfway done, I ordered a hardcover so I could re-read it and underline it liberally. I’m currently working my way through it again, bit by bit, and enjoying it even more (if that’s possible) the second time around. I’m sure this is the first of many re-readings.

2. Light the Dark edited by Joe Fassler—Read 1-1-18 

Light the Dark Joe Fassler

Usually, I avoid anthologies. Too often, they’re uneven and random. This one, however, is an incredibly special exception. Let me explain with an anecdote: instead of highlighting passages I enjoy, I sometimes use “book dart” bookmarks. Well, by the time I finished this book, I only had about four book darts left in the tin.

There’s just so much to love in this book. We get to hear from so many great authors commenting not so much on the process of writing, but on the life of artistic pursuit, their own inspirations and influences, and their discoveries about what it means to write. The range of perspectives is vast. It’s interesting to see where they contradict each other and where, in some instances, they agree with each other almost word for word.

I was deeply inspired by this book—as evidenced by the many posts it prompted either directly or indirectly, most notably these two:
>>The Words That Changed Your Life: Discovering What Made You a Writer
>>4 (Possible) Reasons Why We Write

3. Book Girl by Sarah Clarkson—Read 10-30-18 

book girl sarah clarkson

Sarah Clarkson speaks to me. In both the books I’ve read from her (the other being Caught Up in a Story, which was my top writing book in 2016 and was partially responsible for one the posts I’m still most passionate about: 5 Reasons Writing Is Important to the World), it’s like someone has looked into my head and described my experiences with a greater emotional understanding than I had for myself.

In both instances, her books came to me at opportune moments, when my life was in flux, with me standing at a crossroads of some sort. I read this one after a significant move—and, as I mentioned earlier, after several years of struggling with the motivation to read. Her ode to words and stories and her loving lists of great books—so many of which I’ve already read—has reinvigorated the reader in me. I don’t think it’s too much to say that her first book changed my life; this one did too.

4. The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr—Read 8-9-18 

art of memoir mary karr

Another reviewer of this book said she wanted to underline every word. I felt the same; since I was listening on audio, I promptly bought a copy, so I could do just that. Even if you’re a novelist and not a memoirist, as I am, this is a brilliant book, full of spot-on advice and one of the best and most applicable challenges to story integrity I’ve ever heard.

5. Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve by Ben Blatt—Read 6-6-18 Four and Half Stars

nabokov's favorite word is mauve

This offers entertaining and fascinating stats that provide an insightful “behind the scenes” look at what makes great books and authors tick.

Top 5 General Non-Fiction

1. The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile—Read 4-14-18 Four and Half Stars

Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron Suzanne Stabile

This book provides sound basics of the Enneagram personality typing system. It helped me find my own number (3w4) and opened my eyes to areas of personal understanding and growth I hadn’t previously considered. Originally, I only gave this (and the following Enneagram book) a four-star rating. But in hindsight, I realize these books have stuck with me more strongly and provided many more life-changing insights than some of the books I initially liked more.

2. Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso—Read 7-10-18 Four and Half Stars

Personality types Don Richard Riso

This book provides excellent in-depth information on the Enneagram system. There’s tons of good stuff here, although I did feel it placed too much emphasis on a descent into psychosis rather than a rise to health. However, thanks to its handy organization, I feel this book is a particularly good aid for writers creating characters, which I talked about in this post: 5 Ways to Use the Enneagram to Write Better Characters.

3. A World Lit Only by Fire by William Manchester—Read 11-20-18 Four and Half Stars

A World Lit Only by Fire William Manchester

Insightful and entertaining at every turn. A great and thought-provoking overview of the Renaissance period.

4. 12 “Christian” Beliefs That Can Drive You Crazy by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend—Read 5-29-18 Four and Half Stars

12 Christian Beliefs That Can Make You Crazy Henry Cloud John Townsend

This is the perfect follow-up to the authors’ life-changing book Boundaries (which was my top non-fiction book in 2017). It offers excellent advice that busts through a lot of beliefs many of us, regardless our worldview, take for granted.

5. The Crusades by Zoe Oldenbourg—Read 4-5-18 

The Crusades Zoe Oldenbourg

I read this book long ago and far away when researching my medieval novel Behold the Dawn. Upon re-reading it, I found it deeply engaging and interesting in some places, while dry and too reliant on a confusing blur of names in others. Overall, it is still one of the best books I’ve ever read on the subject and entirely enjoyable in its own right.

Honorable Mention: Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe—An incredibly insightful overview of the post-World War II horrors most of us tend to overlook. Difficult to read at times, but extremely important.

My Books

And if all these goodies aren’t enough to fill your To Be Read pile this year, here’s a few more! 🙂

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! What were your top books of 2018? How many books did you read? Tell me in the comments!

Click the “Play” button to Listen to Audio Version (or subscribe to the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast in iTunes).

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. I read ~50 books this year and I love Dreamlander the best! For days I couldn’t shake the feeling that my dream world might be a high-stakes steampunk fantasy world, hah.

    My top books of 2018:
    – Kindred, Octavia Butler
    – Bound to Fate, Kiru Taye
    – Watching Glass Shatter, James J Cudney
    – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
    It’s interesting that two of these books are African-themed. Might have to do with having watched the Black Panther earlier this year…

  2. Thanks for the reading suggestions.
    I am intrigued by Walking on Water by Madeleine Engle.
    My top novels of 2018 were Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and Circe by Madeleine Miller.
    My top non-fiction was Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins (yes, it came out 2017 but I did not read it until this year).
    Have a wonderful holiday season, K.M.!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, I should have pointed out that these are the top books I’ve read this year, not necessarily the top books that came out this year.

  3. Glenn Bowman says

    In your endearing ways you beat me by a country mile, but I don’t mind. H. G. Wells was a favorite as a young reader keeping me up at night, but now I trend towards the older novels by Clive Cussler as his modern team of co-authors churn out too many titles for me to keep up, or much less arrange them in order as to say which story precedes which, but to steal a phrase from Abbott and Costello, I’ll say who’s on first?

    I wish you a glorious Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

  4. Dear K M, thank you so much for your wonderful posts – when I see a new one in my emails my heart does a little leap and I smile. Your sage and sound advice on writing and other areas of life have inspired me, at the age of 75, to embark on a quest to become a good writer. My gift to you this holiday season of Christmas is a favorite poem by Madeleine L’Engle, enjoy:
    Then hear now the silence
    He comes in the silence
    in silence he enters
    the womb of the bearer
    in silence he goes to
    the realm of the shadows
    redeeming and shriving
    in silence he moves from
    the grave cloths, the dark tomb
    in silences he rises
    ascends to the glory
    leaving his promise
    leaving his comfort
    leaving his silence
    So come now, Lord Jesus
    Come in your silence
    breaking our noising
    laughter of panic
    breaking this earth’s time
    breaking us breaking us
    quickly Lord Jesus
    make no long tarrying
    When will you come
    and how will you come
    and will we be ready
    for silence
    your silence.

    Madeline L’Engle

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Thank you very much for sharing that! I’ve been musing lately on the infinite aspects of silence. First I’ve seen this poem though!

  5. Your entry on “The War of the Worlds” made me laugh. Especially this line:

    It lacks something in the way of character or, really, plot, but it’s still fantastic.

    I’ve been reading your blog (and books) for a long time. You and many other craft-of-writing authors rightfully point out that story is basically Character + Plot. But here you’re telling me that a book lacking in both deserves four stars. Well, scratch my head! It’s been years since I read “The War of the Worlds,” so I’ll have to read it again to remind myself why it’s so good and figure out why it works without much “in the way of character or, really, plot.”

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Style. It’s all about style. WotW’s style is mostly surface, but it’s so well executed that it evokes a truly chilling primal response in readers.

  6. Thanks for this list, K.M. Lots of worthy ones. Merry Christmas!

  7. Louisa M Bauman Author says

    I’m just curious- I notice your book titles all have different fonts, and they don’t look like they’re a series. Are they standalones? How important is author branding?

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, up to this point, all my novels are standalone. You’ll notice that my author name is always in the same find and style though.

      • Gary Townsend says

        I always love it when an author is willing to write a standalone and not hearken slavishly to the advice to write a series. For one thing, too many traditionally published novelists have enjoyed some incredible success writing standalones for me to accept the supposed “truism” that “you should write a series,” or even the idea that this is necessary for success as a self-published writer. Utter rubbish, in my opinion.

        To give a couple of examples, there are the exemplary Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock, both of whom are credited with being two of the three writers who started the Steampunk genre (the third being K.W. Jeter, who coined the term). Blaylock does have a series of novels featuring his character Langdon St. Ives, but he’s also got a slew of standalone novels, and he and Powers have won tons of awards for their writing.

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          I do really like standalone books. I am, however, venturing into my first series right now and really having a blast with it.

          • Gary Townsend says

            I absolutely love a good series! I grew up reading lots of fantasy and science fiction trilogies, and have always enjoyed a good, long story. I also love the idea of writing my own series, too, and am currently developing ideas for my own, so I’m not against it.

            I just find it ridiculous that so many believe or promote the idea that a series is necessary to succeed as a self-published writer. One fault I find with some (but not all) series novels (including some traditionally published), is that many don’t have a real ending to them. I find that sort of thing deflating. It suggests that the author (or the publisher, based on things I’ve heard from trad-pubbed writers) doesn’t trust the reader will buy the next book based on the merits of the current one. If that’s true, then why was the current one published (aside from contractual obligations)?

            I prefer the old time-tested advice that what sells the next book is the ending of your current book, even when they’re not connected. Luring the reader into buying the next with an incomplete story just irks the living [bleep] out of me.

            To me, a good series involves books whose stories are obviously connected, but which can still stand alone. Dictionary.com defines a trilogy this way,…

            “A series or group of three plays, novels, operas, etc., that, although individually complete, are closely related in theme, sequence, or the like.”

            Individually complete. A book in such a series might require a short intro saying, “This is what has gone on before,” to give the reader some relevant context for what follows. But that’s not necessary since it might be written in a way that such a thing isn’t necessary, and yet still fit within the framework of its trilogy.

            One can watch any of the three original Star Wars movies, for example, and not need to watch any of the others to understand them.

            And speaking of standalones, I received an email today from Tor.com with a link to this article: https://bit.ly/2GABZhz (“Tired of Series? Try These 10 Standalone Fantasy Novels,” by Sarah Waites). All of those ten are at least a year old; some of them much older.

  8. I remember reading The Last Convertible when I was in my late teens, and I was taken by his descriptive writing. I remember underlining lines that I thought worked brilliantly. A few years ago, I found it at my grandmother’s house and I re-read it again. I still love the way a (for me) by-gone age was evoked although my own tastes have evolved since then.

  9. Thank you for these excellent recommendations, K.M., and for sharing the virtues of each selection. I saw Mary Karr’s “The Art of Memoir” at the bookstore last week and remembered her brilliant “The Liar’s Club”, but passed on it since I’m not writing a memoir. Now that you’ve pointed out its value for other types of writing, that’ll be the first one I go back for. Thanks for all you do, and Merry Christmas!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      As I said, I found Art of Memoir to have lots of application to novel writing. But, honestly, I just found it inspiring for life in general as well.

  10. Enjoy your post. Always like learning about what other people are reading. Funny, this last week I started rereading Adventures in the Screen Trade at night as a way of unwinding before bed. What a great writer! Goldman was a hoot.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m over halfway through now. It’s starting to get a little whiny, but definitely entertaining.

  11. I’m in the middle of re-reading The Iliad, which I enjoyed as a teenager. The translation I’m reading now is a new one, by Caroline Alexander, and it is enchanting. It will probably be a favorite when I finish it.

    Favorite books I’ve actually finished this year:

    * Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton — it has glitz, glamour, action, and a solid sci-fi mystery that takes place on Earth and a few other planets. It all begins when a second-generation member of a clone family has been found murdered, in the same macabre way his “uncle” was murdered 20 years previously. The woman imprisoned for the first crime always insisted t’was an alien whodunit …

    * Telzey Amberdon, T’n’T: Telzey & Trigger, and Trigger & Friends — a set of three anthologies by James H. Schmitz. The first centers on Telzey Amberdon, a teenaged prodigy who has thrilling adventures after she gains psi powers and becomes a formidable xenotelepath. Trigger Argee joins her in the second anthology; she’s a crack shot and a top Federation agent (not the Star Trek Federation). Lots of mystery and derring-do.

    *Caught in Amber, by J.M. Ney-Grimm — her wordsmithing is wonderful and very restful, and the story is an excellent example of what TV shows call a “bottle story”: the plot is confined to one location, in this case a castle where the young Fay awakens one morning and cannot escape … Fay must keep her wits about her as she learns “the rules” that govern the castle, and unlock the mysteries of the trap she’s been caught in. It’s a novella, and left me wanting more.

    *Third Son, by Julie Wu — it’s straightforward historical fiction, about a little boy in WWII-era Taiwan during the latter days of the Japanese occupation. The titular character is Saburo, the least-loved of his parents’ children. But the story is about how he finds his nerve and his courage, first to go to school, then to win the hand of the woman he fell in love with as a child during an air-raid, then to come to America, and finally, to join the space program. I’m not doing it justice; I was astonished when I realized I had stayed up past my bedtime to finish it.

    *Anne of Green Gables — probably needs no introduction! I never read it as a child, but I always loved the CBC production that starred a young Megan Follows. Those of you who only know her as the scheming Catherine de Medici should check it out.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      The Iliad is shockingly readable.

      And I totally second Anne of Green Gables. That’s one I read so many times in childhood that I think it’s tattooed into my brain–something I’m exceedingly grateful for.

  12. I love this kind of posts. I am intrigued by the book of Madeleine L’Engle. War of the world was so creepy, I had nightmares about it…

    So far, I read 29 books. Not as much as I am used to, but life happened… I relate to what you said above: “There was so much I wanted to read, but whenever it came down to it, I had a hard time doing it. (Cue inner panic!) ” But looking at my list, I am still happy. Because I read broad, from christian non-fiction to YA to contemporary Dutch writers to comics to fantasy to children’s books.

    The most beautiful book, in style, story, characters and beautiful sentences, was a Dutch book for children aged 10 and older. It’s called Lampje (something like ‘little lamp’,). A story about monsters, love, guild, forgiveness, losing, grieving and becoming who you are meant te be, and also about the sea and mermaids. This book made me think: oh I wish I could write like that, but in a positive way.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yeah, I was happier than I expected when I looked back over what I read this year. It *felt* like I hadn’t read much at all, but as I discovered when writing this post, I actually read a lot of great stuff this year.

  13. Brenda Jackson says

    I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one who tracks books read and that I have a lot of company. 😎

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Yes, it’s almost a compulsion. 😉 But, honestly, I can’t count how many times I’ve referenced my “Books I’ve Read” doc over the years.

  14. Martha Muiru says

    Hey K.M, sorry this is a bit of topic. So, I have been reading a lot of your posts on POV and characterization over the past couple of weeks. They are very informative and the one thing that has stood out is that one should pick a POV and stick to it. Essentially if it is third person limited, then it is third person limited all through without deviating.

    Here is my issue though, my all time favorite book is Harry Potter. And though Harry Potter is told in third person limited, every now and then, at certain points the narrator is omniscient. Take Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s stone, for instance. In chapter one, we start with Mr. Dursely’s POV, then we go to an omniscient narrator who narrates about the cat…

    In chapter two as well, before we get to Harry’s POV, an omniscient narrator first describes the state of the house.

    I’ve noticed that Jane Austen does so too in her books. Like she will start with omniscient then float to third person limited.

    It is tripping me up, am I the one who does not understand omniscient POV and what I think of as omniscient is actually not? Or is it okay to mix limited and omniscient as long as they are in different scenes? Will appreciate any clarification you can offer.

    Happy holidays and thank you for the tips you give on this website. The site is a gem and such a good resource for novice writers like me. You and this site are among the many things I am thanking God for during the holidays!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Omniscient has the ability to dip into limited POVs, but only in a *limited* way. (Actually, omniscient can do whatever the heck it wants; it’s just that certain methods are far more effective than others–and bouncing from deep POV to deep POV almost inevitably ends up feeling like head hopping even in an omniscient POV). You might find this post helpful: What Every Writer Ought to Know About Omniscient POV.

      • I am reading a book right now, not self -published either but through a reputable publisher, and I have given up being surprised by the changes of POV. Sometimes in the same sentence! I’ve just accepted that’s how this book is!

        • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

          I hesitate to say this, since it is the exception, but sometimes this is a rule that can be broken when it’s broken well.

  15. Mary George says

    Thank you, Ms. Weiland, for your recommendations. I’ve been a reader all my life, that is until I wrote my first novel, so now I limit my books. However.
    I read Bill Zinsser’s “On Writing Well” again. Might have been the fifth time. I had the pleasure of meeting him, too, a few years ago, and to this day I admire that book more than any other “how-to” throughout my excursion into fiction.
    As far as reading fiction goes: “Little Fires Everywhere” by Ng was very good.
    So was Heather Bergstrom’s “Steal the North.” I read that three times.
    I re-read Joseph Mitchell. His “The Bottom of the Harbor” is a collection of literary gems, short stories from New Yorker magazine. His best to me, though, “Mohawks on High Steel” can be found in the New Yorker archives.
    Right now I’m reading two non-fiction boks. “Other Minds” by Peter Godfrey-Smith. He’s a philosophy professor who, like your typical marine biology nerd, wonders why the heck octopuses are so smart. Sentience and bioluminosity. They fascinate me.
    And then there’s always the WWII book. This one is by Phillip von Boeslager, the German soldier who carried a briefcase full of explosives into a meeting to try to blow up Hitler.
    Thank you again for your reading suggestions. I’ve got my eye on three and will order as soon as I post.
    Oh – and Happy Holidays!

  16. My favorite book that I have read this year is the traveler’s gift by Andy Andrews. It is a great book. In the book, David ponder is think about what is purpose was to be on planet earth until he takes a journey and meets people including the arch angel Michael telling David that he needs to have faith.

    This touched me from the book.

    1. I am responsible for my past and my future
    2. I will be a servant to others
    3. I choose now.
    4. I have a decided heart.
    5. Today I will choose to be happy.
    6. I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit
    7. I will persist without exception. I am a person of great faith.

    I have you have a great Christmas.

  17. K.M. you are a great teacher. However, I’m not sure we would hang-out in real life. You seem like a woman who had more marriage proposals before the age of 25 than she can remember. ; )

  18. Thank you, milady. The Cloud / Townsend book looks perfect for me.

  19. Gary Townsend says

    I found your idea of using the Ennead as a help in creating characters fascinating. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the MBTI. What do you think of that system of personality classification for fiction?

    In the MBTI I scored as an INTJ, btw. I’ve taken the Ennead, but I forget what my result was.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      I’m a big fan of both MBTI (or, more specifically, Jungian cognitive functions) and the Enneagram. I’m also an INTJ. 🙂

    • Gary Townsend says

      Yes, Enneagram! LOL 😀 That’s what I meant. I see Enneagram and I automatically think Ennead, from the Greek ennea for nine. Lived in Greece atop a mountain north of Athens for a couple of years while in the Air Force many years ago.

  20. Ive got my personal best of 27 books since Christmas. Alongside non fiction ive read new authors, and gravitated towards books turned into movies, hunger games, maze runner trilogy, divergent series and even How to train your dragon, which was fun. But im also learning a lot about writing, analysing what im reading more to see what i feel works and doesnt. So its been a successful year in that sense, thinking through flaws and pitfalls, and what i felt worked well and why, developing my own writing. Might be able to squeeze in finishing my first Anne McCaffrey book before end of the year.

  21. A fan of James Lee Burke’s individual novels since the early 1990s, I just this year started reading his Dave Robicheaux Louisiana-based crime series while studying K.M.’s method and working on my own ideas. Burke’s novel are complex character-based narratives with strong (coherent and resonant) themes. Importantly in this context, they map to K.M.’s story structure, but not in obvious ways. I am in the habit of noting plot points and page numbers and it doesn’t get in the way of my enjoyment of reading. (I have studied literature critically since the 1990s, but only recently came across K.M.’s site.) With Burke’s novels, I have found myself reading way past a plot point, and then trying to work out what it was by memory, then going back and using the page numbers to see if it mapped to the basic structure. Although I don’t notice them at first they are all clearly there in the right place according to the 12.5% demarcation, embedded in the crossing points of the different strands of the theme Burke is exploring. In Purple Cane Road, the one I am reading right now, Dave Robicheaux is re-investigating the murder of a prison worker by a young woman who was his next door neighbour. She has been found guilty of that murder, but no one thinks she acted alone, and something else is not right about the conviction, and at least three people seem to be involved. The antagonistic force seems to be the complex relationship between what everyone knows privately to be true, but in a political context no one is able to assert that truth, the young woman is convicted, even though everyone including the governer believe she is innocent to some extent. While re-investigating this case, Dave comes across a rumour that his mother was a “working” woman who was murdered because she was a wintess to some wrong doing by the New Orlean’s Police Department. And, at the same time, Dave’s relationship with his wife is tested by the presence in the investigation of her socio-path ex-husband who is a political power in New Orleans. These three threads have no obvious connection in the story, up the end of the second act, where I am now, but they intersect within the character of Dave (who is also the first person narrative POV) so that his moods, actions, and reactions (scene and sequel sructures) are informed by them at each of the different points. As a back-of-an-envelope-analysis, I would say the theme of Purple Cane Road, in a word, is probably “oppression”; the issues that this theme contains are to do with how women cope with men who work for the state and use their authority corruptly. The art of making a good detective novel, as I see it, is how the protagonist is personally motivated when they are investigating something that happened to someone else. Unlike some detective novels that I also enjoy (like Donna Leon’s Venice Series which attempts a similar effect, but in which the character development is not as complex), the Dave Robicheaux novels are very rich to the point you stop being aware that it is crime fiction, the solving of the case is almost incidental to the effect on the characters of the original crime and the relationships of the people involved, yet at the same time the solving of the case is integral to every scene and sequel. I am grateful to James Lee Burke, in a way for writing so many of these, as I am enjoying the ones I have read and only having read a few, I am looking forward to gradually over the years reading the whole series. I didn’t start at the beginning and am not bothered about reading them out of sequence.

  22. I just challenged myself to read more this year. My pile of unread books has grown and I was feeling defeated about not reading anywhere near the amount that I used to in highschool. I am starting with Hitchhiker’s Guide the Galaxy, which I have been wanting to read ever since I saw the movie. I hope to read at least one a month, but I’m hoping that I will get more inspired to read and get through more. Thank you for the recommendations. I will have to add some to my need to read pile. ^_^

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