I’ll end 2009 with a list of writers who make my world a better place.

Cynthia Lord. Her book Rules is probably the most re-bought and gifted book of my life. It’s about the sister of a boy with autism, and the voice is so great, the story is so wonderful, and the lessons so keen, that I can’t help but pass it to friends and family touched by autism, including my own niece and nephew.

Sonya Sones. I read What My Mother Doesn’t Know several years ago and now I anxiously await each new title. Sones’ stories are told in verse, and are so funny, so emotional, and so true. You don’t have to be a teenager to be affected by her characters.

Margaret Atwood. Atwood had me at The Handmaid’s Tale decades ago. I own almost all of her books. I got The Year of the Flood for Christmas and can’t wait to tackle it. When I forget how lovely language can be, how intricate a sentence, how delicate a description, I read Atwood.

Annie Dillard. I knew about The Writing Life but had never picked it up until this year. The first chapters resonated with me so much that I immediately began rewriting drafts of some of my novels, searching for words that were better than the ones I had chosen, hoping to elevate each paragraph beyond an idea to be communicated and into prose poetry. I’m reading A Pilgrim at Tinker Creek now, and enjoy so much how she obviously labors over every choice of a word.

Betsy Byars. I read Summer of the Swans as a girl and I still pick it up again and again as an adult to remind myself that just because a story is written for younger readers, doesn’t mean it can’t be languorous and full of meaning. I don’t have to make the book hurtle along if I don’t want to, but the story can move by its tension, not its breakneck pace.

I look forward to the authors and books 2010 will bring!

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