Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Favorite Books and Authors

If I ever have a few minutes "spare time" you'll usually find me with my nose in a book.

I bring books to the gas station, to the kids' swim practice, the hair salon, the doctor's office. I try to find my "angle of repose" whenever and wherever I can. One of my favorite spots when I actually DO have real lazy time is my hammock out back. With my furry bunny blanket if it's a bit nippy.

Two of my all-time favorite authors.....

Diana Gabaldon and Wallace Stegner. Give them a try, if you haven't!

Ms. Gabaldon write big, meaty tomes that defy genre. Mostly, I consider them historical fiction, and her books are serials. The main series starts in the Scottish uprising of 1745 and has (to date) followed these Scots on their emigration to America on the eve of the Revolutionary War. The historical detail and character development are phenomenal. Which is why each book is nearly 1,000 pages! Occasionally, this author gets "distracted" by a secondary character and explores what they were doing when they weren't a part of the main story. These distractions have resulted in a series of "novellas" (longer than a short story, shorter than a novel) that are also delightfully written.

Wallace Stegner (may he rest in peace) is considered an "early American writer" and founded the creative writing program at Stanford. His fiction works deal primarily with "late" pioneers (late 19th to early 20th century), and not just geographical pioneers. Many of his characters are explorers, dreamers, chasers, renegades. He's also done a lot of nonfiction and activism relating to our enviornment. He's an amazing writer and highly intelligent. A man who can really "turn a phrase." My two favorite books of is are Angle of Repose, and also Crossing to Safety.

Because of this blog, I just found out my friend Jean grew up w/ Mr. Stegner's granddaughter. She'd not read a lot of his works, and I hope my blog has sparked her interest. Jean and I enjoy a lot of the same books and were in a book club together when we both lived in Dublin.

What am I reading now?

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. She writes wonderful earthy fiction that I find hard to describe, but it usually includes down-to-earth characters doing their best in a crazy world. This book though is a non-fiction work describing her family's commitment for one year to "take the oil out of food." Not "fat" oils - petroleum. They won't eat/buy anything they didn't grow/raise themselves or know who did. Everything has to be local. Oh, sure, you say.... hit the Farmer's Markets, etc. But what about things like mayonnaise? It's got me all fired up about the far reaching benefits of eating only local, in-season foods. Maybe even growing my own, if I didn't have such a crummy track record with gardening!

I recently read "What is the What" by Dave Eggers.... also non-fiction, which is pretty rare for me. Dave Eggers is also a man with an amazing gift for language and a slightly sardonic style. He tells the (true) story of one boy's journey (over several years) out of Sudan, into Kenya, Ethopia, and ultimately Atlanta GA where he attended college and started to raise money to educate those left in areas like the Sudan so there will be no more "lost boys" like him. Achek Deng is the young man's name and it is an amazing story.

What are YOU reading?

I'm always looking for suggestions (leave them in the "comments" section!) and since the Uptight Righteous "christian (ha!)" Biddies kicked me out of book club recently, I need new reading suggestions to keep me from getting stuck in a literary rut (which is MUCH better than being stuck in an Uptight Righteous Hypocritical rut as far as I'm concerned!).

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