In the Company of Readers

 

by @AnnieDaylon

shutterstock_134073986Little did I know when I grumbled over precious time spent getting my novel onto the shelves of a local food chain that the effort would result in a magical evening in the company of avid readers. I was invited to a meeting of the Book Travellers, an octet of women whose group demeanor is a combination of the delicacy of porcelain and the strength of spider silk, women who have woven friendship into a book club that has endured two decades.

The Book Travellers are so named because each member returns from every trip with souvenir bookmarks for the group. The group chooses their books a year in advance, at a sleepover, in a cabin, on a nearby lake, each June. Through their meticulous ‘bookkeeper’, they keep track of every meeting (attendance, books read, and comments) and have done so since 1998.

They take turns hosting the event and, during my visit, they appeared to be as comfortable in their host’s home as they would be in their own. (author note: a wonderfully infectious state of ease.)

Our evening began with tea and dessert and progressed to discussion of my novel and books in general.

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Elizabeth made Lemon Pavlova. Delicious!

Personal details slid through book talk, information about connections made through vocation—librarian, teacher, nurse, accountant—and avocation—curling, volunteering, walking, travelling. There were snippets with giggles about surprise birthday jaunts and fragments with sighs about thoughtful memorial gifts.

Overall, a delightful evening  in the company of readers, one which served not only to deepen my fervor for reading but also to re-ignite my passion for telling stories. More importantly, I experienced a surprising gift: the joy of being in the presence of unmatched  strength and vitality. Truly Canada’s Steel Magnolias.  

And so, to: Elizabeth, Bonnie, Judy, Randi, Nancy, Magda, Leona, and Kathy, I express my heartfelt thanks.

My best to all of you, always,

Annie Signature Light Blue

 

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P. S. Dear Writers, Marketing can be a pain in the posterior: In my case, it took five trips to the store, several forms that had to be filled, trashed, replaced, filled again and edited; it also took a few emails to the wrong people before finding the right people. I was left wondering if time-consuming grunt details are worth it. They are. Do it.

 

Favorite Reads of 2013

by @AnnieDaylon

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Do you love to read? I do. Mostly fiction.  Some nonfiction, mostly related to the art of writing. (See past post: Writing Resources: Current Favorites .)

Here, from my 2013 Reading List, are the books (fiction/memoir) that I found inspiring, compelling, challenging, or truly entertaining:

 

  • The Lighthouse by Allison Moore (Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize)

    • Melancholic and mesmerizing story of a recently separated man ‘heading for a restorative walking holiday.’
  • A Patchwork Planet;  Ladder Of YearsThe Amateur MarriageEarthly Possessions  by Pulitzer Prize winner, Anne Tyler

    • Unmatched characters: everyday people, everyday journeys. I got so caught up in her stories that, in 2013, I read all thirteen of her novels. In an interview posted at the back of one of her novels, Anne Tyler recommended the work of Lisa Moore, the next author on my list.
  • February and Caught , by Lisa Moore

    • February is the heart-wrenching story of a woman whose husband dies on an oil rig.   Caught (short-listed for 2013 Giller Prize) is the story of a man who escapes prison and heads off on a pot-smuggling adventure. Both books display a mastery of details;  images leap from the page.
  • Dream with Little Angels by Michael Hiebert

    • Indelible coming-of-age story in a voice that has the clarity of a mountain lake.
  • Unless by Carol Shields

    • Masterful story of a woman whose ‘eldest daughter disappears and ends up mute and begging on a Toronto street corner.’ Lyrical and philosophical.
  • Smouldering Incense, Hammered Brass by Heather Burles

    • An enlightening memoir of a Canadian woman’s visit to Syria in a peaceful time (Aptly, beautifully subtitled: A Syrian Interlude
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

    • Confusing and amazing tale of a woman who repeatedly dies and returns. Gritty. Lyrical. Unmatched ability to put the reader in the moment with the reality of war and its effect on the innocent.
  • Tropic of Night  by Michael Gruber

    • A thrilling murder mystery set around a dark subject: sorcery. Stunning voice. Seamless transition between past and present.

My absolute favorite book of the year? The above-mentioned Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. It was so challenging, so compelling, that I still think about it, months after having read it. (I am currently on a Kate Atkinson reading binge.)

What was your favorite read of 2013? Any suggestions for my 2014 ‘To Read’ List?shutterstock_119202028

My best to you,

Annie Signature Light Blue