Monday, July 8, 2019

Yummy, yummy books!

Q: Do you read the kind of books that you write or do you tend to read books that are the opposite or different – and why?

-from Susan

I’m a book omnivore. July is only a few days old but I have already read or am reading one mystery, one historical fiction, one current ecological non-fiction, one geological history non-fiction. Competing for the top spot when one opens are a police procedural set in Ireland, a police procedural set in India, a how-to book on writing crime fiction, and a non-fiction book related to the manuscript I’m working on.

As with food, I believe in a balanced diet. Too much of any genre is like too much chocolate and, yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as too much chocolate. Some books are escapist in nature, some help me laugh at the mess the world is in, some sober me up fast about the state our world is in, and some help me make sense of it. 

I enjoy reading the work of fellow crime fiction writers, sometimes because I know the writers and sometimes because the buzz says these are outstanding novels. I may agree at times with the buzz, but not always. Some of my favorite crime fiction novels don’t seem able to crack the popularity code, but I admire them as much or more than the blockbuster winners. Wish I knew what the magic sauce was that lifts one adept book onto the New York Timesbestseller list while leaving another to languish in the weeds.

Other fiction pleases me but only when it keeps a story and character arc promise. Some current fiction seems to dribble off after I’ve read one hundred thousand words, and that drives me nuts. I retreat to nineteenth century classics when that happens, but venture back to my own time when something promises to be a real story, not just egocentric author indulgence.

Natural history and physical science topics are high on my list and books that are written well capture and hold my interest easily. But everyone’s list is going to be different and I hope to glean a few recommendations from other Criminal Minds this week. One thing I’m sure of – we’re all book junkies!

Here are a handful of books I’ve read recently:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Winifred Watson
Straight Man, Richard Russo
The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan
The Story of a New Name, Elena Ferrante
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?,Frans De Waal
A Necessary Evil,Abir Mukherjee
Mariana, Monica Dickens
Falter, Bill McKibben
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The Devil’s Cave, Martin Walker
The Home Front and Beyond, Sarah Hartmann
We Were the Lucky Ones, Georgia Hunter


Dietrich Kalteis said...

I like a good cross section too, Susan. And you're recommended some good titles. Thank you.

Susan C Shea said...

Dietrich, I'll wait to see what you have to say also. Hope you have something for me to add to my must-read stack.

Terry said...

Oh, how I wish people would stop posting more books to read. I'm swamped. I don't really wish that. I love to find out what people are reading. Susan, if you haven't read There, There, by Tommy Orange, it's as good as its hype.

Susan C Shea said...

Terry, I read There There when it was brand new and have raved about it to everyone. Agree, it's one that lives up to the hype. someone told me it bored her and that stopped me cold. Can't see "bored" as fitting the book.