There are fewer romance novels on my list this year than usual. I’ve been writing very intensively and have trouble reading and writing romance at the same time. I read romance only in brief binges between drafts and during vacation. I did get to enjoy a few of the Riskies’ recent releases, but some are still on my TBR pile. I won’t mortify myself any further by telling which ones or trying to pick favorites! Anyway, the best non-Risky romances I read during this year’s vacation were NOT QUITE A LADY by Loretta Chase and THE SLIGHTEST PROVOCATION by Pam Rosenthal, both highly recommended.

I have managed to do a lot of reading out of genre, since it’s my second year with a book discussion group. My favorites among this year’s selections included: ORDINARY HEROES by Scott Turow, DIGGING TO AMERICA by Anne Tyler, THE BIRTH HOUSE, by Ami McKay and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen. Probably of most interest to Riskies and friends was MARCH by Geraldine Brooks, the story of what the father of Louisa May Alcott’s LITTLE WOMEN experienced during the year he was away from his family. I love Brooks’s use of period language and detail. I also found the portrayal of the adult Marches very illuminating: not idealized as seen through their daughters’ eyes but with human imperfections revealed but still consistent with the world Alcott created. Having rather recently become a Unitarian Universalist, I also found it interesting and inspiring to read about these early Unitarians and their concern for social justice and the abolition of slavery.

This year I’ve probably read more research books than most, because this current mess-in-progress is a veritable research hydra. Sometimes I wonder if I’m a masochist to come up with a hero who’s an army brat turned balloonist. But I love him. I digress. Back to the books.

My favorite new reference is LIFE IN WELLINGTON’S ARMY by Antony Brett-James. It’s chock-full of wonderful details on all those aspects of military life that are glossed over in the big histories: how they camped, ate, marched, what they did for fun. It’s so vivid the theme music from the Sharpe series kept playing in my head as I read.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?