Thursday, February 15, 2007

"I cannot live without books."*

I just love books. [happy sigh] Love 'em, love 'em, love 'em. Is there any greater pleasure than sinking into a comfortable chair and diving into a good book? Add a tasty snack and you have the makings of a really great hour or two. Or three. Hell, find a babysitter and make it an entire day.

Our local library is truly one of my favorite-est places in town. I know the librarians, they know me. We talk about books when I come in, which is pretty much weekly. If I skip a week, someone is sure to ask if I'm okay. Our library offers a monthly publication,
The Book Page, which is a little newspaper filled with book reviews. I go through it very carefully, mark the books I'd like to read, and then go online to the library's website and put them on hold -- always with a feeling of great anticipation. Right now I have 19 books on hold. What a great feeling. All of those books, just begging to be read. Hours and hours of entertainment. And it's free. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can get a library card.

I find that what interests me has evolved over the years. I'm skewing more toward non-fiction and I'm taking notice of what's on the New York Times bestsellers list. I used to be a real pulp fiction whore and would read just about anything, but now I'm a bit more discerning. I also won't read a book until it grabs me within the first 50 pages or so. I'm not be a typical American with a short attention span -- or else I wouldn't be reading -- but simply not reading a book unless I think it's good. Even authors I used to like who aren't always grabbing me.

Here's a partial list of authors I used to like but now won't even consider, no matter how highly rated their current books might be:

Jeffrey Archer -- Early books -- excellent. Newer books -- SSDB (same shit, different book). Plus he's a smug, perjurious, unfaithful jerk.

Michael Crichton -- Yawn. He gets so technical that a typical paragraph goes something like this: "... and then the DNA was spliced, words words words, blah blah blah, bored Jen." If I were interested in the sciences, I would not have majored in history and would have spent more time in labs.

Clive Cussler -- In the beginning, the Dirk Pitt novels were just action-packed fun, but now it's just SSDB. Cussler has branched out into different series with related characters, and each series has a co-author who clearly does most of the writing. He's practically a McDonald's franchise. There's the Dirk Pitt series which has long since jumped the shark, and the Kurt Austin series, which I see doing the same. I do, however, still enjoy the Oregon series, which is still intelligently written and doesn't have gratuitous sex and violence -- probably because it's written by yet a different ghost writer, ahem, I mean co-author.

John Jakes -- There's no question this guy does his research and his historical details are accurate as far as I can tell. However, he has a propensity for gratuitous violence that has actually turned my stomach when reading his books.

Jan Karon -- She's a perfectly lovely woman and the first few books in the Mitford series were delightful but the others were not so much fun. I was hugely disappointed by the final book, in fact I could have cried from the let down.

Perry O'Shaughnessy -- This writing duo has produced the Nina Reilly series, which were great in the beginning. Now, not so exciting. However, I posted a book review on this blog not long ago about the new O'Shaughnessy book, which was a departure from the series and was quite suspenseful.

Romance novels -- I don't do 'em. Period.

Stuart Woods -- Wow, this guy's early books were just phenomenal. I absolutely recommend
Chiefs and also Palindrome. Unfortunately, Woods' story lines are starting to get thin -- another case of SSDB. And he seems to have a fixation with sex and his characters get into it within 12 hours of meeting, sometimes as much as 24 hours, but it's always a given. And, he's pretty graphic. Look, there are two types of readers, those who've done it and those who have not. For those are getting some, they don't need graphic descriptions; they can play out their own fantasies in whatever way they choose, as long as no one gets arrested. For those who have not, well, there are books to help with that. I suggest the Kama Sutra or at least some good quality porn.

Linda Fairstein (Go 'Hoos!) and Kathy Reichs are on the fence with me and may soon be kicked over to the Do Not Read side...

There are so many terrific authors out there, including some popular ones, that no one should ever be bored or nauseated when they read. Some of my current favorites:

David Baldacci -- Intelligent, suspenseful, entertaining. Plus, he's a 'Hoo.

Bill Bryson --
A Walk in the Woods and In a Sunburned Country are two of the best books I've ever read, hands down.

John Grisham -- The man still has it, no matter how many books he cranks out and how many millions he has in the bank.

Rosamunde Pilcher -- Sort of a guilty pleasure, like eating Twinkies, but she's British so she can't be too bad.

Ann B. Ross -- Author of the Miss Julia series, which are just hilarious. But that could just be a southern thing, or maybe a woman thing, or both. I wouldn't recommend these to my husband.

J.K. Rowling -- I effing cannot wait until July 21!

Adriana Trigiani -- Author of the Big Stone Gap books, as well as some others -- All of which I recommend.

Of course, book preferences are subjective. Some people prefer histories, others like science fiction, and still others like romance novels. I guess what is most important is that we all read -- that we broaden our minds and learn new things.

* The quotation in the title was by Thomas Jefferson.

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