My Latest Haul (and some thoughts on books)

First, I have to confess I bought the following books at a chain bookstore. I try to support the independent bookstores whenever possible, but I was in Borders with a friend and there were all these books I wanted and . . . you know how it goes. So here’s what I bought:
Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD, which I plan to start tonight. Lionel Shriver’s WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, Jodi Picoult’s NINETEEN MINUTES, and Anne Lamott’s GRACE (eventually): THOUGHTS ON FAITH.
I adore Lamott’s writing–if you’re a writer, surely you’ve read BIRD BY BIRD. Then there was OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS, about the first year of her son, Sam’s life (Sam arrived without “operating instructions”). I was hooked by her funny, candid prose.  Then she began writing about her spiritual journey and this is the third book she’s written with that theme. Reading her non-fiction is like looking through a window into the emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual evolution of a woman who is “just like me,” only funnier.  Can’t wait to read this new book.
A word on Lionel Shriver. I bet few of you have read her. I’ve only read one of her novels, FEMALE OF THE SPECIES, and that was a long time ago. Frankly, I didn’t realize there were more (I believe there are seven all together), so I was excited to hear about her latest. FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is on my Special Shelf. My Special Shelf is reserved for books that inspired me when I was beginning to write. It’s full of Ann Tyler, Alice Hoffman, Ann Rivers Siddons and many others. I liked FEMALE OF THE SPECIES because the narrator is not the protaganist. Rather, the narrator is a young man infatuated with an older woman, and he tells her life as he sees it, and when he can’t see it (when she’s making love to someone, for example), he imagines it. I was taken by Shriver’s writing skill. It will be interesting to see how she’s evolved.
Both Shriver’s new book and Picoult’s latest have to do with a very troubled teen who winds up taking his violent fury out on his classmates. There’s irony in both the fact that their books have similar themes as well as in the timing of their release, given the tragedy at VA Tech.
I look at my new haul and wish I could devour them all at once! Too many books, too little time. . .


  1. Ann on April 23, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    What a wonderful feeling – leaving a bookstore with an armload of books!!!

  2. Margo on April 24, 2007 at 8:51 am

    My special shelf is full of Diane Chamberlain novels…every single one. And my happiest day is when I leave the bookstore with D’s newest!

  3. brenda on April 24, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    When I buy, I have to buy at chain stores like B&N, Border’s, etc…they give teacher discounts plus there are no more little ones around-WALMART saw to that…
    I love Lamontt…you also mentioned one of my very favorites-Ann R. Siddons…yes!!1
    The more we read…I am devouring (again) stories by Cheknov (spelling?) Love them esp. “The Lottery”…

  4. brenda on April 24, 2007 at 4:05 pm

    P.S. My special shelves, Austen, Brontes, Shakespeare, and D. Chamberlain…and Barbara Delinsky…as far as I am concerned-they are all great…

  5. Diane Chamberlain on April 24, 2007 at 4:29 pm

    i just love that! Austen, Bronte, Shakespeare and Chamberlain. Nice company to be in!

  6. brenda on April 26, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Very stressed lately-some family and friend’s health problems…reading light light fiction…Kingsbury and Linda Hall-I like both of them…
    Just tired.
    Am reading some mysteries…need to get back to library.
    Hope all of you are hanging in there and have good weather…ours is rainy but once in awhile the sun peeks out…
    Diane-are you sticking with Lori?

  7. Diane Chamberlain on April 26, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    I’m sorry about the health problems–I know what it’s like. Sometimes it’s harder to have friends and family suffer than it is to suffer ourselves. I remember the discussion we had on the blog a long time ago about that — back when we were talking about empathy and empaths.
    I just read that Kingsbury has written as many as 24,000 in a single day! makes me feel like a slacker.
    I’m leaning toward Sara for the Mom, Brenda. Although tonight I met a Laurel. Isn’t that a lovely name? What do you think? Vulnerable enough or too strong?

  8. Margo on April 27, 2007 at 8:40 am

    Laurel comes across as a ‘beautiful’ name to me. Lori sounds more ‘cute’ and Sara is very pleasant. Whatever you choose will be perfect because of the way you write about characters. Your names always seem to fit.

  9. Diane Chamberlain on April 27, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Thanks for the input, Margo. I’m going to hang out with the name Laurel today and see how it feels. The real Laurel, whom I met last night, was very generous in saying I could “have” her name.

  10. Lorene on April 27, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Laurel or Sara? I like both very much. Just wanted to tell you I read Brass Ring a few days ago and loved it. Couldn’t put it down!

  11. Diane Chamberlain on April 27, 2007 at 1:12 pm

    thanks for letting me know you enjoyed BRASS RING, Lorene. I’m glad you could find it, since it’s out of print.

  12. brenda on April 27, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    I think Sara is a great name-I teach and have taught so many girls named Sara. Although Laurel is a lovely name, it might date your book…I think sticking to names that are timeless works…I thought that about Sue Ellen after awhile…just as Jennifer, etc…
    Depending on the age of your character-the time period in which your novel is written…that’s good for choosing a name. One of my students used Herman as a name about a story in the 60’s and that worked…I let them check cemetary lists and genealogy lists (I think I mentioned that).
    Laurel sounds like a name in mythology…sorry…
    Is your book set in the 21st Century? (I assume so…) Is the mother at least 40…I am assuming she is-if so–the names that were popular when she was born: Lisa (a great name), Amy…Kathy, Melody, Melanie, Christina, Mary, Elizabeth, Jamie, Beth, etc. My daughter is Katheryne…we call her Kathy…she is very tiny…she is a little Kathy…her family where she lives and friends there-call her Katheryne…she is strong too…
    Also-Kingsbury…can you imagine having written so many books at her age already? She has several children also-puts me to shame…

  13. Lorene on April 27, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Diane, I bought a very nice hardcover copy of Brass Ring from an Amazon seller.

  14. Diane Chamberlain on April 28, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Lorene, I’m glad you were able to find a copy of BR.
    Brenda, I’m still playing with Laurel. Sorry! But at this point, I don’t know which name will win out.

  15. brenda on April 28, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Almost like naming a child-isn’t it. In reality, these characters are your children-you name them and are responsible for their actions-an awesome responsibility that you do quite well.
    Just finished Maeve Binche (spelling?) latest and she has some unique names in that one…interesting read…One of my favorites by this writer is Circle of Friends.
    Good luck with Laurel…I am finding it intriguing…

  16. brenda on May 2, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    There was an article in the newspaper Sat. about Jodi’s last book-ironic with the Virginia Tech shooting…however…of course…no connection…it did read like Columnbine…WHEW…powerful…

  17. Diane Chamberlain on May 2, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    I’m reading NINETEEN MINUTES now. Although our writing is quite different, her type of story often reminds me of my own. And indeed, there are story similarities between NINETEEN MINUTES and my Work-in-Progress, BEFORE THE STORM. (Mary Alice has dubbed me “The Southern Jodi Picoult.”) I’m enjoying NINETEEN MINUTES so far and look forward to seeing where she takes it.

  18. brenda on May 7, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Have you finished l9 Minutes…??? Isn’t it great how she writes about what can happen in l9 minutes? I am even more eager to read your latest…

  19. Diane Chamberlain on May 8, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Yes, she did a super job. And a great title!

  20. brenda on May 8, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    I printed a list of contemporary books and older books-suggested reading for writers…I have read most of them-lot to be said for classics…and I reread them…I also like light fiction…
    I even like Harlequin….especially when I am tired-although I have none of them. Once a year, I go to the Half Price Book Store where my daughter lives, and I buy about l0 (25 cents each) and enjoy them…
    I would love to write for them…
    So I might be rereading Crime and Punishment, Little Women and a Harlequin all at once…
    There is only one author I can’t stand to read…one…never could…I did not permit my children to read that author while they were young. When they were older, my son tried the books-he agrees with me. They are gross, horrible, and too explicit…some of the movies are so bad (made from the books) that I can’t watch them…no names girls…but just think YUCKY…this author makes tons of money and is so so so famous…

  21. Diane Chamberlain on May 8, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    are his initials SK? if so, we really need to discuss!

  22. brenda on May 9, 2007 at 6:28 pm

    I knew it!!!! Diane-you are too too too smart!!!! You amaze me. We can discuss, but I hate to mention names because I don’t want to “color” others’ opinions…I like almost everything I read-something about every book…however…

  23. brenda on May 9, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Am reading another Tess Gerritsen, and although it IS GRUESOME–very gruesome–the story amazes me-this author can take a story/a crime and make me believe it is happening where I live…that is writing…whew…
    Just like you did with Cee Cee…I will NEVER forget that story. In a matter of minutes, a person makes a decision-changes her life forever…Somewhat like the book l9 Minutes….Wish I knew more about your WIP, and I could think of a title (right! like I am anything as good as you are–) 🙂 🙂

  24. Diane Chamberlain on May 9, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    I don’t like to say negative things about another author (publicly) either, Brenda, but actually what I have to say about Stephen King is mostly positive. There are few writers who can sum up a character in just a few words the way he can. I DID stop reading his horror many years ago. MISERY was the last one I read. I was on the beach in Hawaii when the woman cut off the writer’s leg, and that was it for me! But have you read his non-horror work? THE GREEN MILE, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE BODY (made into the movie STAND BY ME) and his wonderful non-fiction book, ON WRITING? I think he’s brilliant. . . but I do agree that his horror is not everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak. 🙂
    Tess’s latest is sitting on my To-Be-Read pile. Maybe I’ll have to move it closer to the top.

  25. Ashley on May 9, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    Reading, and being able to stomach, some of Steven King’s horrors is a bit tough. But most of the stories behind the details are pretty cool. Honestly, though, I agree that his non-horror works are better than the horror ones.. my most favorite being THE BODY (and subsequently one of my favorite movies being Stand By Me :P)

  26. Diane Chamberlain on May 10, 2007 at 12:38 am

    good taste, ashley!

  27. Margo on May 10, 2007 at 9:06 am

    I read Stephen King about once a year and I think he’s a fabulous author. Last year I tackled THE STAND (over 1200 pages!) and thought is was probably one of his finest works. SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION is a fantastic movie and Gary and I watch it whenever it comes to the satellite. I read an interview on Stephen King once and he said that he gets his ideas for a novel from his dreams. Can you imagine going to bed at night realizing you might have an encounter like this while you sleep! He said in the interview that he looks forward to bedtime so he can have these experiences.

  28. Diane Chamberlain on May 10, 2007 at 10:10 am

    How could I have forgotten to mention THE STAND? I read it many years ago (when it came out in the so-called short version) and couldn’t put it down.
    Brenda, I hope you’re not upset with this little tribute to SK!

  29. brenda on May 10, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    That’s what makes us unique…I do like his book on writing-but the others-sorry-not my cup of tea…As to Green Mile-loved the movie-the book was okay–I’ll never forget the little man and the mouse…so sad…
    I cannot understand his appeal–Carrie, Etc. etc…there was a generation who really got into his books-they are in their 30’s now…my generation-not many of us–and then the generation I teach-don’t like his work…
    Believe me when Tess writes…it is difficult to sleep, and even though there are some parts I have to speed through-they are believable…a girl going nuts at a prom??? (SK) give me a break–but then on the other hand-who knows what could be possible???
    Of course this is coming from a reader who relished D.S. books and reread and reread-until the last few…I think most writers who try to put out one or two books EACH YEAR…have trouble keeping the rhythm going-much better to do as you are doing, Diane…

  30. brenda on May 10, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    Remember-my favorite writer-not living-is Shakespeare…and after seeing one of his plays acted in London last summer-the really really gruesome one-well…it was horrible. EVERYONE-even the BARD has a “mistake” once in awhile…the appeal of that play at the time was horror for the audience. TITUS AND ANDRONICUS…I love the more common plays…Believe this-when I was studying with Shakespeare and Company-a month in the Berkshires in Mass…I had to play a French maid in one of the plays-and speak in French…I am a much better teacher than an actress…believe me…
    I love Shakespeare…He was a genius… but even I have to admit he could have NOT written that one…

  31. Diane Chamberlain on May 10, 2007 at 7:58 pm

    Speaking of Shakespeare. . . one of my favorite soundtracks to write to is the music from Henry V (the movie with Kenneth Brannaugh). Fabulous music!

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