Monday, December 22, 2014

A Holiday Break: A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley

Books are always the best holiday gift for me. The only thing I like better than the anticipation of reading a long sought after title is the fondness that comes with remembering the discovery of an unexpected treasure.

As I look back on all the books I've profiled here in 2014, the one I'd most like to revisit is A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. I blogged about it back in July, and opened that post with the following quotation:

In the Far East, there are plenty of people who own a robe and a bowl. That’s all. They throw themselves on the waters of the world, and they know they will be borne up. They are more secure than you or I. I know by now that I can’t be like that. I’m too American. But I know it’s possible. That gives me a sense of security.

It was as good a quote as any to frame my reaction to the novel, because Ginny Cook, the novel's unreliable first person narrator, and a person very much tied to her family’s farm and her dysfunctional but outwardly upstanding family, will do exactly that by novel's end—throw herself on the waters of the world in an attempt to get washed clean of her guilt and shame.

As you enjoy your holiday break, I hope you find some time to curl up with a good book. I know I will.

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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

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