Monday, June 18, 2007

So many books!

The summer reading habit remains strong and vibrant. In a perpetual summer, it is difficult not to set work aside and read year around. Temperatures are reaching into the 90s, the true Florida summer has arrived, and most of us are beginning our hibernation until the temperatures cool. It is the perfect time to read. Well, when isn't the perfect time?

Maybe perfect because people are introducing me to such exquisite books. I previously mentioned Diane Ackerman's Cultivating Delight: A Natural History of My Garden. That one is a keeper. I'm checking out Amazon and buying a copy that I can revisit again and again.

Amazon is my new best friend and worst enemy to my budget, I fear. For in addition to Ackerman's delight, a friend turned me on to the Outlander series by another Diane -- UK author Diana Gabaldon. I zipped through the first book Outlander and its 627 pages finishing up at 2 a.m. Friday night. It was that bittersweet moment when you've reached a satisfying ending and at the same time realize you've finished the book and must say good-bye to the land, time, and characters. Thankfully this is the first of five or maybe it is six books in the series and I'm heartened to hear that the author does not disappoint. So I'm impatiently waiting for book two to arrive: Dragonfly in Amber.

I'm not normally a staunch sci-fi or fantasy reader. Yes, yes, I enjoyed Harry Potter, and of course Charles de Lint's novels, as well as Alice Hoffmann which may or may not be sci-fi/fantasy but includes a bit of woo-woo in her writings (think Practical Magic) and of course Madeline L'Engle and Ursula K. Le Guin. Maybe Gabaldon's series is not strictly classified sci-fi or fantasty. It smacks of bodice ripper romance, time travel, historic Scotland (1700s) and a touch of sadistic homosexuality, but mostly it exemplifies rare fine story telling.

In the meantime I may hang around Gabaldon's website or Google interviews online. I always like to know more about the author and the process and what else she's working on. Speaking of websites, check out Marisha Pessl's site for her first novel Special Topics in Calamity Physics published by the Penguin Group for a six figure advance. This novel has best seller, movie, and success written all over it. The writing is exquisite, the voice, the creativity, the plotting, the mystery....well done. Quite a departure from Gabaldon's setting, this novel takes place in contemporary U.S. and tells of a daughter and her father, a professor on the edge of academia. The heart of the book is actually a murder mystery, but this is so much more and so finely written that I expect to savor it for awhile.

A writing friend's reading list has me scrambling to line up copies to read next:
Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - David Eggers
Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
Bangkok 8 - John Burdett
Gates of Fire - Steven Pressfield
Angle of Repose - Wallace Stegner
The Mercy of Thin Air - Ronlyn Domingue (I know nothing about this book, but the title intrigues me).
So there is much to do. Much to read. I love to hear what others are reading. Please feel free to post your favorite reading lists.

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