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January 6, 2006

Reading Outside the Comfort Zone

Posted by admin

Over the holidays I did some reading outside my comfort zone --- and enjoyed it. Like many of you there are certain genres that I read that are "typical." For me, these include suspense/thriller, mystery, women's fiction and biography.

I decided that over the holiday I wanted to stretch my reading boundaries a bit forging what I guess was a pre-New Year's resolution. So I read CONFESSIONS OF A WALL STREET ANALYST by Dan Reingold, which was my companion between wrapping, baking and the other seemingly endless holiday tasks that I worked through pre-Christmas. I found myself looking forward to reading this book each morning (I would sneak in a few pages in bed before I hit the ground running) and each night before I fell asleep (a couple of times I fell asleep with the book in hand and the light on...marveling I kept my place!).

Reality check here: I confess to being fairly ignorant to the comings and goings of Wall Street. I have friends who are analysts and others who are on the banking side. I have friends who work at Morgan Stanley and other brokerage firms. I have friends who have taken their Internet companies public. All this said, I never understood the Street until I read this book. Reingold was a telecom analyst --- actually the top-ranked telecom analyst (and in the book you will see what this means) --- during the heyday of the telecom market in the late '90s and early '00s. His stories about Worldcom, the Bells and AT&T clarified so much of what went on during those years. Reingold's niece, Jennifer, penned the pages, and here's what I loved. When I had a question, I usually would turn the page and it would be answered. The book reads like a novel --- seriously. And from the way the story unfolded I feel a lot more knowledgable about how the market moves and just how it blipped in those years. Friends who I saw over the holidays all heard about this one. I passed galley along to my dad on Christmas Eve. It's in stores on February 7th.

Once we got to North Carolina I read and enjoyed GOT THE LOOK by James Grippando, a suspense/thriller author who I had not previously read, as well as ISOLATION WARD by Joshua Spanogle, who we will be spotlighting as a debut suspense thriller author later this month. Quick note on the latter: Crichton fans will love this one. Then I moved onto THE TEMPLAR LEGACY by Steve Berry, which is in stores February 21st. I have been a fan of Steve's since his first book, and thus was eager to see how he handled the templar material. Again he did not disappoint me. I found myself caught up in both the storyline and delving into the templars. We have a feature on this starting next week. Please do not confuse this book with THE LAST TEMPLAR by Raymond Khoury. They are both excellent --- and very different --- books on this theme. I highly suggest you read both of them.

Then I moved onto a book that Seale Ballenger, a publishing colleague who never steers me wrong, raved about when we were at lunch, called THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umbrigar. I started it on the car ride home and got out of the car still reading. For those of you who liked two of my 2005 favorites, SNOWFLOWER and THE SECRET FAN and THE KITE RUNNER, you will want to read THE SPACE BETWEEN US, which is in stores on Tuesday. The setting is contemporary India; the story is about the balance between class and gender as told through the eyes of two women, whose relationship is employer and maid. I was swept away reading it.

Now I am reading THE VANISHING POINT by Mary Sharratt, a historical fiction book that pubs in June. Again this is a genre that I typically do not explore. I am about one quarter of the way into and and really enjoying it. Her writing is much like that of Philippa Gregory. I look forward to a weekend in front of the fire finishing it. I can see myself stretching my reading wings more this year. Happy reading for 2006!