Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The To-Be-Read Pile

I recently joked to someone that if my to-be-read pile were to topple over on me, I’d be killed. That was truly a joke because I don’t dare stack all my books-to-be-read in one pile. For one thing the ceiling isn’t tall enough. For another, if I piled them all in one tall pile, the one I would want to read next would for sure be at the bottom of the pile.

Sometimes I look around my house in despair: How in the world did I get this huge collection of books? Even if I had time only for reading, I wouldn’t be able to read all the books waiting in my stacks. Sometimes I talk sternly to myself, saying I can’t buy any more books until I’ve whittled down the pile. But then I’m doing errands and I pass a bookstore. Ooo, I’ll just pop in for a minute and see what kind of bookstore it is (you see? I can think of any excuse to go into a bookstore). And once I’m in….oh, there’s a book I’ve been meaning to read. I’ll just buy that. Oh, wait. What a nice cover on this one. And what do you know? It’s by someone I had intended to read and hadn’t gotten around to. Oh, here’s another one….the cover isn’t very appealing and the name sounds silly. But I’ll just take a peek inside. Nice paper, and what a lovely readable font. Look at that sentence. Smooth and lyrical and with a sense of dread. Whoa! This woman can write! I’ll add this to the stack. That’s only three. I can read those in no time at all…

And then a well-meaning friend comes for dinner, thrusts a book at me and says, “I just finished reading this and you have to read it right now!” And I want to read it because she loved it.

Then you get the books that come winging your way to be reviewed or blurbed “if you have time in your busy schedule.”

And then there are conferences with their delicious book bags. I open the bag. Oh, what a relief! Two of these books I wouldn’t read on a bet. They aren’t my style at all. I mean look at this first sentence! It’s ridiculous. Although, I guess it does kind of have a thrilling start. I’ll just read a little more. Hmm, maybe I’ll keep this one. But the other one? Forget it! I mean….

It doesn’t help that I read both fiction and non-fiction in many areas. Okay, I have to confess I’m not very interested in the lives of monks….except for The Name of the Rose, of course, and oh yes, the writing of Priscilla Royal—exquisite. But I really am not interested in the history of mid-century modern furniture. Oh, wait. Look at that picture of the chair. I wonder what it says about it…

A book junky is a book junky. And I have no interest in kicking the habit. Here are some books I have read in the last year that I highly recommend:

Time Hallinan’s The Queen of Patpong, and Crashed, three novels by Catriona McPherson, Rhys Bowen’s latest in her Lady Georgiana series, M.P. Cooley’s Ice Shear (makes me shiver to think about it), Rob Brunet’s hilarious Stinking Rich, Anonymous-9’s even more hilarious Bite Harder, Jim Ziskin’s No Stone Unturned (Can’t wait for Stone Cold Dead), Allen Eskin’s The Life We Bury, Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman, William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace (there’s a reason he swept the awards this year), Taylor Steven’s The Doll, the first two in Patrick Lee’s dazzling trilogy, The Breach and Ghost Country, and I reread a classic sci-fi book, Earth Abides.

I’ve actually been keeping a reading diary this year for the first time ever, so stay tuned! And in the comments post what you’ve been reading that you think people shouldn’t pass up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Welcome to the first appearance of Subject to Change. I called the blog that because there isn’t going to be any set subject. Sometimes the subject will be  writing, sometimes I’ll do a review, and there might even be a rant or two. Occasionally I’ll have a guest author. But most important is that I want the blog to be authentic and entertaining. It will come out once a week, on Wednesday, and I hope you will think of subscribing so we can keep up with each other.

I was a member of the The Ladykillers blog for a few years and found that I really enjoyed blogging. I like it because it’s a one-subject blast of information or opinion. I like to read select blogs on a daily basis. I subscribe to Rocky Mountain Fiction writers because they have a great mix of posts about various subjects. Same goes for Debutante Ball. I also subscribe to Sports Without Injury, a blog that has nothing to do with writing and everything to do with keeping my body in shape so I can keep writing happily for years to come. I frequently read other blogs as well, especially review blogs like Buried Under Books. The reason I mention all these blogs is that I’ve long admired people who keep a blog going over time and I will strive to keep up the same kind of crisp, new content that they come up with.

Readers, if you have a particular subject you’d like me to cover in some future blog, be sure to let me know. I’d like this to be interactive, with people reading and commenting. A new adventure!

Terry Shames’ best-selling Samuel Craddock series is set in small town Texas. A Killing at Cotton Hill was a finalist for Left Coast Crime’s Best Mystery of 2013 and the Strand Magazine Critics Award for Best First Mystery, and won the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery. The Last Death of Jack Harbin, January, 2014, was named one of the top five mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal, and one of the top ten of 2014 by MysteryPeople. Dead Broke in Jarrett Creek came out October, 2014 and the fourth, A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge, debuts April 7, 2015. Terry lives in Berkeley. More at