I love the holidays - it's my big reading time. There are books I specifically save and books I specifically go out and buy (and a whole lot more that I put on my list but I know I won't get to). Over the last two weeks, I've read the third Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - and Rain Gods by James Lee Burke. Both were complex stories with lots of characters and various plot threads. Burke is a master of description, so after finishing his book, I had to go and order the third Abercrombie title.
Last Argument of Kings (First Law) I commented on the descriptions and settings in the first of this series, and also the number of viewpoint characters and how well they are handled. That's the other thing about holidays - your brain doesn't have to cope with work anymore, so you can get stuck into good books and pay more attention!
As Lisa commented the other day, online book buying can create a rush of excitement and you end up buying one or two more than you expected. So I also bought Outliers: The Story of Success. I did check at Borders after I'd finished Xmas shopping, but they'd sold out. This book seems to be the "word of mouth" hot seller at the moment. I've heard a number of people mention bits of it, mostly the 10,000 hour theory - that you have to do something for 10,000 hours to be good at it. Like an apprenticeship. It applies to writing, too.
I checked the writer's website and found some interesting interviews and excerpts. Nicholas Gladwell has also written Blink and Tipping Point - if I like Outliers, I might read those, too (although it might be time for a library visit by then!). Being able to read excerpts and sample chapters is a great way to assess whether you want to buy a book or not. I'm also starting to see why writers put their short fiction on their websites - it can give you a taste of their style.
Of course, thinking about writing and perseverance and craft, I decided to buy another book that has been recommended by a few people - The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises. It's an intriguing title, for a start, but again, I have been able to download an excerpt and check it out first. I have a pile of writing books and to buy a new one now means it has to be giving me something different, something useful.
So having gone berserk, I closed down my Fishpond order and went back to reading Ballistics, a collection of poems by Billy Collins. It's like meditation - to read a poem or two and think about them. A poet friend told me last week that people hate Billy Collins because he makes it look so easy!! But that's only on the surface. When you take the time to look at what is under the words, the craft shines through. Ah, holidays! Reading, thinking, dreaming.