Book Confession: It’s now a day after Christmas. As noble as my #2 book pile was, Christmas trumped everything. It was time to get out those boxes of decorations and get ready for the holiday festivities. Now I’m putting up my feet and settling in to read.

The Hunger Games Books 1, 2, and 3 by Suzanne Collins. Now I can see why folks got into this series. It’s a lot of writing work to send the message of the futility of violence, but Ms. Collins’s writing plunked me into the daily ordeal of the very impoverished lives of Katniss and Peeta, the two main characters who exhibit characteristics of teenagers I know, layered over with the trials of the dystopian society in which they live.

Escape reading it is. I’m rooting for the main characters and that’s key for me to like a book. I’m only on Book 1 and the other two are waiting. Gotta go.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I confess I avoided this book when it was published in 2000 because I didn’t want to read about people dying from cancer. Then in 2016 my stepdaughter died, in the next two years too many friends were battling, defeating, warding off pancreatic, ovarian, lung, skin and breast cancer. And I was almost perversely drawn to reading about Dave Eggers and his siblings’ life after their parents – both of them- die from cancer.

His memoir chronicles his years from when he is in his early twenties raising his eight-year-old brother. The resilience of the main character so obviously shines for me through the more than unorthodox ways they live. My brother-in-law died of cancer this year just before Christmas and I put the book down.

But I am grateful for writers who share their stories in whatever their style is because the book is still here in my house. Now I take it up again to learn how I deal with this latest death- to cry, be outrageously angry and eventually laugh again as Dave and Toph do.

Travels with Maggie by Pat Bean. I met the author two years ago at the Story Circle Network Conference in Austin Texas (which, by the way, is a great organization if you’re looking for support for your writing work). My colleague Penelope Starr and I happened to be sitting next to Pat and got to talking. She was working on this book about traveling in the US with her dog. Oh, ok. Then, the more I talked to her and enjoyed being pulled into her smiling personality, I thought, “If she writes the way she talks and acts, this could be a good book to get.” The bonus in talking with her was to find out she also lives in Tucson!

We kept in touch a bit, meeting at Writers Lunch here in Tucson, reading her blogs with accompanying stunning images, and having a talk about publishing possibilities.

And now her book is a reality. Of course I had to get it. Reading Travels… is akin to being in the RV with her. A double bonus is reliving my own travels in New England along with her. Beautiful writing, detailed maps, and her delightful narration.