Originally this post was going to be about my favorite books.........or rather about me trying to define those books that stand out among my favorites. It turns out that is an impossible task. There are those few titles that always rotate to the top, such as Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird", Mildred Walker's "Winter Wheat", Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" or Pete Fromm's "Indian Creek Chronicles." But then I read "A Reliable Wife" and find myself recommending it to customers daily as well as "The Rabbit Factory" (a funny mystery, first in a series, that is odd enough to appeal to those that appreciate dark humor) right now I find myself captivated by "Cutting for Stone" which is one of those books that I can't speed read, I want to read every word yet there are times I want to avert my eyes because the scene coming off the page and entering my consciousness makes me uncomfortable -- but I can't stop reading it nor do I want to. Carl Hiaasen always makes me laugh and Stuart Woods tells a great story. I remember the first time I read "Gone with the Wind" and wanted to read only books about the Civil War or the phases I went through reading books about dogs and horses. I had a Russian History fascination and loved reading books about British Royalty. Charles Dickens is another favored author as are Dashiell Hammett, Robert Louis Stevenson and Alexandre Dumas.
I am an eclectic reader gravitating toward books of all kinds. As a child I read all of the James Bond books (I was in 4th or 5th grade) I found 007 by accident. I had just finished "Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang" by Ian Fleming (not to be confused with Chelsea Handler's new book "ChelseaChelsea Bang Bang) . I went looking for more books by Fleming and I happily discovered the Bond books on the bookmobile.
I loved the bookmobile. I anticipated its arrival with uncontrolled excitement. It was wonderful when my hometown of Augusta, Montana finally had its own library, but I have to admit I missed the bookmobile visits. This library on wheels brought me Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, My Friend Flicka and books about Scotland and Lewis and Clark. I read every book by Marguerite Henry and Will James. In third or fourth grade I devoured "The Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler", "Strawberry Girl" and most of the "Wizard of Oz" books." About this same time, much to the dismay of my parents I also read "Go Ask Alice" and "Alive". I realize now how fortunate I was that no one, not my parents, my teachers, the librarians nor the driver of the bookmobile stopped me from reading. I was encouraged by them, no book was off limits these amazing people helped nurture me into the reader I am today.
I have to admit that I don't read a lot of Science Fiction. However in high school, a sometime boyfriend and most of the time friend introduced me to some classic SciFi and it is to his credit that I discovered Robert Asprin and his "Myth Adventures" series. In fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Tuomi, led me to a love of John Steinbeck. She gave me my first copy of "Travels with Charley" and she was the one that instilled in me that as long as you have a book you aren't alone. I may have taken her sage wisdom too far when I had a book with me the night of the senior prom and took 3 books with me to the senior kegger ;o) You never know those events could have gotten boring! Usually you will find a dictionary in my purse.
If I was forced to pick a favorite genre it would be biographies. "John Adams" by David McCullough is easily one of my favorite non-fiction titles. It is one of the books that the minute I finished it I started reading it all over again. I also own volumes of letters written by John and Abigail Adams what amazing people from American History. I was intrigued with "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond, to the point that I think this book should be required reading in high school. Along those same lines I think everyone should take a look at "Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present" by Michael Oren. I also have to admit that I love to read biographies about old Hollywood film stars, I enjoy peeking inside a world that is filled with glitz and glamour.
I tend to avoid horror books and to be quite honest if a book frightens me too much I put it under the bed. "Silence of the Lambs" spent about 6 months under there. I have done this since I was a kid. I honestly don't know why but eventually I pull the book out and finish reading it. One book that didn't go under the bed was "The Heart Shaped Box" by Joe Hill (the son of Stephen King) What a book and one that I highly recommend but don't plan on sleeping the night you start it.
I read a lot (average 5 books a week) and I will never have enough time to read all the books that I have waiting on the nightstand, the coffee table nor the floor of our home. Everyday I hear about at least one book that I have to read. I get nervous when a customer is looking at a book that I possibly was planning on taking home. It is not beneath me to strongly suggest other books for fear that they will take the copy I wanted. I am not ashamed of this behavior (although it horrifies Bill and makes him worry about our businesses bottom line.........) He wishes I would bring the books back to the store after I read them. But I can't part with them. Although he may not understand this behavior he honors it. So he carefully plans the next bookcase to be strategically placed so that the foundation of our little house remains balanced. He is an amazing carpenter and a man that doesn't pretend to understand my obsession with books. He lives with me, honors my quirks and every now and then adds an antique dictionary to my collection. I am a lucky woman. Now if I only had a little more time or didn't need to sleep every night I might be able to polish off a few more books each week.