The adventures of Kurt, Sarah, Ethan, Reid & Leah

What to read…for a year.

I received a Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch e-reader as a gift earlier in the year (thanks Tarver!) and I have to say, all pro-bookstore, pro-printed book issues aside, I really enjoy using it primarily because it is just easier to hold compared to a printed book. I plan on using the Nook extensively while in Norway so I won’t have to pack any books back and forth. I want to revel in shedding “stuff” for the next 12 months and shlepping books around doesn’t fit that paradigm.

Unfortunately I have discovered a major problem with this strategy.  Currently, Barnes & Noble doesn’t have the “rights” to sell books electronically outside the US. In other words, I won’t be able to purchase any eBooks directly with the Nook OR even via once we set foot in Norway. Yes, I believe there are ways to circumvent this issue (IP spoofing or getting someone stateside to purchase via my account) but if at all possible I don’t want to go down those paths. The good news is that I can read any eBooks purchased stateside that are already in my “digital library” . So, I am currently trying to determine what I want read for the next 12 months, purchase them now and have them on hand when we arrive.

Trying to determine what I want to have at my disposal for a year is a bit of a challenge. I typically read one book at a time and once finished take time to research what I will tackle next. To help with that task, I have created an account at, a website dedicated to making book recommendations. If anything, going through the process of rating books I have read has been entertaining and the recommendations seem to validate my interest in titles I might have chosen anyway.

So far, this is what I have on my list. I am going to need more so if you have any recommendations, I am open to suggestions!

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R. R. Martin
Really enjoyed 1 and 2 so picking up number 3 is an easy call.

Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball by R. A. Dickey
One of MLB’s hottest pitchers for 2012. He throws the Knuckleball. Oh, and a UT Grad. What’s not to like.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
I have read pretty much everything by McCarthy except what most consider to be his best. I have kept it at bay, kind of like a fine wine that sits on a shelf. I think it might be time.

Killing Floor (Jack Reacher Series #1) by Lee Child
What can I say, I love genre page turners and I have yet to delve into the Jack Reacher series. Tom Cruise is getting ready to play him on-screen and I am fascinated with watching Hollywood (fail?) translate books to screen.


  1. Hi Kurt, I have one book recommendation off the top of my head: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin. A mystery-whodunit that takes place in a small Southern town, with an overlay of secrets kept for generations.

    Also, have you heard of the Pocket app (formerly Read It Later)? It’s free (, and would be for your iPhone, not the Nook. It allows you to save longish articles to read later. I’ve used it a lot; it’s good to always have something to read, plus I love reading articles about writers, either before or after I’ve read their work. For example, here’s an article by Tom Franklin about the late William Gay (Tennessee writer), and their shared love of McCarthy’s Suttree.

    To find articles, I often go to (for Pocket) and (for Kindle/Nook), and search by writer. Byliner has begun commissioning and publishing e-originals that are longer than the longest magazine article, but still not long enough for a book. They’re great. Happy reading!

  2. I’d suggest reading Blood Meridian in the spring. Hardcore.

    I plan on reading “The Art of Fielding” in the next year. Book club? “At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.” – from Amazon.

    The rest of these are all pretty long, but what else are you gonna do? I’m making my way through The Brothers Karamazov. It’s long but it’s been a quick read if you can get through all the Russian names. A couple years ago I read John Updike’s “Rabbit Run.” Katherine couldn’t get into it but I like how the series is like a time capsule for the 50’s through the 80’s. Last, I’d suggest both of the “major” Jonathan Franzen books: Freedom and The Corrections.

  3. I have added Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter to the list. I think a good Southern whodunit may come in handy if a little bit of home sickness arises. Thanks Claire!

    I have heard good things about Franzen, The Corrections in particular which I have added to the list as well. Thanks Lael!

  4. Katherine says:

    I agree with Claire–Longform is great for articles. And you can find things based on how much time you have to read. And their backlog is impressive. There is so much great nonfiction writing out there!

    1Q84 by Haruki Murakami is a fascinating read so far (of the 100 pages I have read). Murakami is HUGE in Japan, and he does a great job of characterizing the oddities of modern Japanese culture. And over 1,000 pages, it will keep you busy for a while.

    Henning Mankell and Per Petterson are both Scandinavian writers who are popular over there. Mankell (Swedish) is primarily a mystery writer, and his Kurt Wallander series is supposed to be really good. I think he has some other books that break the mystery mold.

    Per Petterson is a Norwegian author. His most famous is Out Stealing Horses. This is a great book. He writes a lot about the landscape. It is a spare, plodding novel, so not fast-paced or plot-driven. But the writing is so so beautiful! I would recommend both of those authors to get a feel for their literature. Plus it might score you some points at cocktail parties with the Fulbright crowd.

    Margaret Atwood is an old favorite of mine. Great writer of dystopia.

    Nonfiction: Garden of Beasts has been on my radar for a while. It is the true story of the US ambassador to Germany right on the heels of WWII. Erik Larsen is a phenomenal master at taking history and making it accessible and engaging. I would recommend all his other books, especially Devil in the White City.

  5. Katherine says:

    Oh, and Per Petterson lives in Oslo. How cool would it be to see him on the street!!

  6. I am glad to see you are adding Franzen. I just read Freedom and really liked it. It had a few laugh out loud moments. For adventure/non-fiction, I really liked We Die Alone by David Howarth. Looking forward to reading your blog!

  7. Katherine, I added Kurt Wallander #1 to the list – a Swedish whodunit with “anti-foreigner” overtones. Perfect. Thanks!

    Kelley, We Die Alone sounds VERY interesting. I love survival stories. Thanks!

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