By Kelli Stanley
It's a tough topic this week. First, because it's difficult for me time-wise to read anything other than research materials and novels to blurb, and secondly, because I don't dare read fiction when I'm working on a book (I'm afraid it will influence me, and when you're in the business of world-building, you don't want to get sucked in to another world).
See how boring being a writer can be?
How to compensate for this stultifying ennui? Well, here's what I'll do. First, I'll throw in a video, in honor of my buddy Shane Gericke, one of the original Criminal Minds. This one's for you, Shane, ol' buddy!
Next, I'll name five books that surprised me. Granted, I didn't read these this year so they're not exactly recent, but hey--they're books. That I read. And that surprised me.
5. Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand. I'm not politically aligned with Ayn Rand. However, I read this gargantuan political tome/thriller in high school, and it shocked the hell out of me because it was well-written. Whatever else she did or believed, Ms. Rand could write. And English was a second language.
4. The Lost Museum. Hector Feliciano. This is actually a recent read for the next Miranda book. I discovered some interesting facts about art dealers during the Nazi era, in both France and Switzerland, that surprised and disappointed me.
3. Organized Anti-Semitism in America. Donald S. Strong. (Yeah, I know, I know ... I have such a cheery reading list. This was research for CITY OF SECRETS, and the surprises I encountered worked their way into the book).
2. Murder on the Orient Express. Agatha Christie. I read it when I was about eleven years old and I still remember how shocked I was. A masterpiece of pulling the reader along!
1. Farewell, My Lovely. Raymond Chandler. The most wonderful surprise of all. My first Chandler experience. Unbelievably lyrical, tough and tender, Romantic and hardboiled. I've never recovered.
Honorable mention must be mentioned. Short stories are renowned for their twists, but when I was about ten years old, I remember reading Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery". It was like a rite of passage into a world far less innocent, and word-for-word, one of the most brilliant things ever written by anyone.
So there you go. I stretched the question and played a video. And I thank you for reading, and for cutting an over-extended writer a little slack on her reading assignments! Please chime in with any treasured surprises from your reading list, past or present. I'll be on the road next week as part of the CITY OF SECRETS book tour, and hope to see any regular Criminal Minds readers at stops in Scottsdale or Los Angeles!