Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Inside a Book

I've always thought it'd be interesting to be able to step into the world of many of the books I've read. When I was young and people read to me, I often imagined doing so. By the time I'd gotten older and was reading to my own children there were books build around entering other times-- Choose Your Own Adventure books and then the Magic Treehouse series. I think I probably enjoyed reading each of them as much as the kids did because I pictured myself entering each world. But it wasn't until I'd read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart that I actually heard someone else describe reading yourself into another world the way I'd always imagined it. I didn't particularly like the Inkheart world - it wasn't one of the worlds I'd like to enter- but I read the series because I loved reading her descriptions of people listening to a book being read and then finding themselves in the world of that book.

I wouldn't want to enter the storyline of most of the books I've read, just the world. I'm more interested in exploring the world and what it offers. For example, I've no interest in joining Harry Potter in fighting Voldemort, but I'd love to see the pictures and trading cards that move, the "live" chocolate frogs, the pensieve, the sorting hat, and a lot of Diagonal Alley. And imagine being able to do that without the inconvenience or expense of current air travel!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Favorite Author?

         Since I don’t have a favorite book, I’d find it hard to choose an all time favorite author.  If push came to shove and I was forced to choose a favorite, I’d probably go with whatever author I’m currently enjoying.  Right now that’s Connie Willis, the author through whose historical novel-sci fi books I’m slowly making my way.  Last month, my favorite author would have been Robert J. Sawyer.  The month before it was Geraldine Brooks.  Next month it’ll probably be either China Mieville or Robert Charles Wilson, since I’ve got Embassytown and Vortex in my TBR soon pile. 

            While I don’t have a favorite author, I do have authors whose new works I will always try to read.  These include a wide range of authors.  Besides those I’ve already listed (and those I read regularly for more “professional” reasons), they would include mystery writers like Patricia Cornwell and Laurie King (though I’m having a hard time with her most recent Mary Russell mystery), novelists like Zadie Smith, Barbara Kingsolver, Lisa Genova, and Anna Quindlan, environmental essayists like Wendell Berry, Bill McKibben, and Michael Pollan, and a whole slew of science fiction writers. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Favorite Book?

            When I was young, once I was reading on my own, I always seemed to have a favorite book (and often a favorite series).  When I was first reading chapter books, there were Ruth Gannett’s Elmer and the Dragon
as a book and comics as my “series.”  As my reading improved a bit these changed to Jane Trahey’s Life with Mother Superior, John Gunther’s Death Be Not Proud, and Nancy Drew mysteries.  In early high school it was Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Herman Hesse’s novels, especially Narcissus and Goldmund.  

 As high school ended it was John Gardner’s Grendel and Loren Eiseley’s essays.  In college I was always quoting Elie Wiesel’s books, especially his non-fiction, and T.S. Eliot’s poetry.  At Union, that became Adrienne Rich’s poetry and Nikos Kazantzakis’s books (though never Zorba).  Since then I’ve got through periods where it’s been the novels of Robertson Davies, Wendell Berry’s poetry, essays and novels, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, and Kathleen Dean Moore’s amazing essays.

            Today, however, if you asked me what my favorite book is, I don’t think I have one. I know which book I spend the most time with – the Bible—though that’s largely for work and if I could only take one book with me to be stranded on an island, that’d probably be it, but it’s not my favorite book in the way that some of these others have been.  I’ve read a lot of books that I’ve enjoyed recently, but none stands out.  I’m at a loss for why that is.