Sunday, August 16, 2009

Reading Other Stuff

by Caren Crane

So, a while back I blogged about joining this book club at work. I joined the book club for several reasons. First, I liked the lady who invited me (we are old friends from leading Girl Scouts). Second, it was a great way to "network" a bit and get to know people who work in departments with whom I rarely or never interface. Last - and certainly not least - I knew the group would give me a reason to read outside my genres of choice, romance and mystery. And no, it's not like The Jane Austen Book Club with hot guys and stuff. Although there are a couple of guys in the book club and we do, oddly, find aspects of many of the books reflected in our lives.

What I didn't realize was that I would like it. I mean, really and truly dig it. Hard. I haven't loved all the books. In fact, there have been a couple I haven't like a bit. However, I am definitely reading outside the circle of books I would choose for myself. I have read non-fiction - my least favorite thing EVAH - for this book club. With all that reading and digesting and discussing stuff I would never pick up on my own, it must be a good thing.

I've found, though, that I enjoy picking apart books with people who are, for the most part, not writers. Well, one group member is a writer, but she writes literary fiction, so we don't approach writing from the same world view at all. These intelligent, diverse people are readers and I love hearing what they enjoy or find hard to digest in a book. As you readers-who-are-not-also-writers know, because we say it all the time, writing kind of ruins that "gee golly" experience of just immersing yourself in a book and losing yourself in it. Except...I have. I've had the closest thing to a "gee golly" read that I've had in years recently and I wanted to share it with you.

It was Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed. Now, I read Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True and I thought they were brilliant, but that was before I was a writer. I was hesitant about this new book for a couple of reasons. First, my younger sister (whom I adore and whose taste in books I often share) thought it was incredibly depressing - even for Wally Lamb. Second, the book is 723 pages. Yep, 723. And that is NOT counting the Afterword, the Notes From the Author, and the Acknowledgments. Yes, friends, this puppy was a tome.

My sister happily passed it along to me months ago. I thought, since our book club discussion was in August(!), that I would have plenty of time to read it. Except I couldn't quite pick it up. I had a teetering TBR pile this summer and a little more reading time on my hands, with the school year activities on hiatus. Then came the RWA conference and another load of "must read" books. Wally's tome kept sitting there, gathering dust, on the dining room table. Until this week. This week, I picked it up and dutifully delved in, wary and skeptical. I was completely sucked in by page 7 and didn't come up for air that first night until long about page 117. It was just that good.

I am a slow reader, but Wally makes me keep turning pages and stay up lo-o-ong after my bedtime. I very much enjoyed Kirsty Gunn, Ann Patchett and Lisa See, as well as some other great authors whose books we have read and discussed. But Wally...I think Wally has won me over yet again and probably forever. Much as I adore and cherish every happy ending I read in romance and even mystery, I like the sidetrips into Wally's brand of family dysfunction, all-too-real marriage drama, mental illness, alcoholism, troubled childhood and trial-by-fire adolescence. He has a gift for illuminating human pain and for putting in words the ways we humans tear each other apart and knit it all back together.

I don't love Wally because he is an easy read. He isn't. His books pack a hard emotional wallop, which some find hard to take. Sometimes, I like my emotion the hard way. I love him because he shines a light on the darkest places in the human soul and shows that, no matter how bad things are, there is always a way back. And someone - usually the last person you would choose - can be there to lend you a hand, if you'll let them. I like to go to that dark place sometimes and, thanks to my book club, I have regularly scheduled times to do so. When I'm done with one of these beautifully-constructed odes to pain and reality, though, I usually need an extra helping of happy-ever-after to re-establish the balance in Caren world. Which is generally, after all, as happy a place as I can make it!

So, what do you read when you don't read romance? And why are you drawn to whatever "other" sorts of books call to you? Is romance a palate cleanser or the main course? I definitely use it to cleanse my literary palate, but I think the heavy stuff is merely an interesting side dish for this reader!


flchen1 said...


Pissenlit said...

Oh darn! You're fast! Congrats!:)

flchen1 said...

Oy, Caren, I think I understand what you're saying about why Wally's a great read, but at the same time, I know that often I shy away from that sort of book--it's so intense! When I don't read romance, I tend to choose some sort of interesting non-fiction (how-tos--crafty stuff, cookbooks...) or humor. I do sometimes read the heavier stuff, but I don't often make that commitment :)

Anna Sugden said...

Congrats Fedora! Better luck next time, Pissenlit!

Your book club experience sounds wonderful, Caren. And yay on having that amazing gee golly experience.

I barely have time for all the romance novels I want to read! Plus, I read so widely across the genre, I feel like I'm reading different stuff all the time.

But, when I do read outside romance, it tends to be thrillers and light mysteries. I read non-fiction for research ... and some pleasure (hockey books *g*).

I must admit, I don't like reading, or watching movies, that don't have happy endings. It's a family joke - lovely hubby seems to prefer the angsty stuff.

But, again, with the mix of books I read, even in romance, I can get such a wide spectrum of emotional work-outs that I don't feel hard done by.

Oh, and these days it takes a great book to stop my schizo-brain from doing the half-writer/half-reader thing!

Lynz Pickles said...

Good job, flchen! Better luck next time, Pissenlit... unless I'm going for him, too, in which case I hope you have no luck at all. [insert evil laughter here]

Oh, Wally Lamb. I was about eleven when my father read I Know This Much Is True. I tried to read it, but he caught me and told me it wasn't appropriate. I think he mainly wanted his book back, though. I forgot all about that book until I was in ninth grade. See, like any normal fourteen year-old girl, I was fascinated by rape. *snort* Anyway, for my English summative essay that year, I chose rape as my topic. (The title page said "RAPE" in capital letters, bold, underlined, and in a huge font. My poor male teacher had to carry that thing around with him.) It started off as an essay about rape in fiction, because I was writing a story about a high school girl who got raped by her ex-boyfriend, so I went to my school library and took out all the fictional books I could find with rape in them. There were three: one badly-written novel featuring an attempted rape which I promptly forgot, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, which I now own and re-read annually, and She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I HATED it. I admired his writing, but the subject matter was the second-most depressing that I'd ever read. (First place went a A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, which I read in grade eight. Again, great writing, but totally depressing subject matter.) When I realized that the book of my dad's which I'd almost read was also by Wally Lamb, I was so glad he took it away from me...

Basically, I've learned that as a general rule, I don't get along well with depressing books. Which is clearly why the two of the non-fictions I've got on the go right now are Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present by Lisa Appignanesi and Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present by Joanna Bourke. (I seriously still haven't gotten away from my fascination with it. My reading of romance in view of that is interesting, since as a general rule I won't so much as touch a book if I know the hero rapes the heroine in it. There are some exceptions, though - I read To Have and To Hold yesterday and loved it to bits and pieces.)

When those two tomes(Seriously, they're both over 500 pages long. I could knock an intruder out with either of them.) get to be too much, I switch over to my current non-fiction fun read: American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent. Yay for male acknowledgement of Mary Bennet as one of the earliest recorded examples of the nerd! I'm also reading The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson, but I keep stalling because I know it's a tragedy and I like some of the characters too much to want them to die. I've also heard it gets a bit dense after a while, and I can easily see how that could happen, so another reason to delay there. Still, you gotta love it when you pick up a book because it's on clearance at the drugstore and has a nice cover only to find that the prose is excellent and the characters three-dimensional, right? Oh, I'm also trudging through Jack Whyte's six-book series one book at a time and dying for a new Edward Rutherford.

Anyway, those are all just ongoing side projects. Caren, what you said (I definitely use it to cleanse my literary palate, but I think the heavy stuff is merely an interesting side dish for this reader!) describes my reading habits perfectly. (Ye gads, this comment could be a post of its own! Sorry!)

Barbara Monajem said...

I don't get along with depressing books either... but if I want some grit in my reading I usually go for Diana Norman's historical novels. She's really hard on her characters, but the high points are lovely and the way she brings history to vivid, often horrendous life is superb.

I like the occasional mystery to cleanse my palate, and I read quite a bit of historical non-fiction and plays. Right now I'm reading Aristophanes because one of my heroines does...

Suzanne Welsh said...

hmmm. Caren a very thought provoking blog for me today...

What do I read when I read outside of my comfort zone of romance...well, for a while I read Ludlum...uh, everything the man wrote until he died on me. I do read Steve Barry, so I guess I read action thrillers.

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Fedora.

I read a lot of mystery and suspense novels. I like Agatha Christie, Nelson DeMille and Frederick Forsyth. It's been a while since I read non-fiction, but there have been some which have piqued my interest after I saw it on "The Daily Show." One of them is a book about Henry Hudson.

Helen said...

Congrats Fedora have fun with him

Caren great post I only read romance I can't read anything else until the TBR pile is gone I would feel very guilty.

I used to read mysteries a long time ago and Harold Robbins and Jaqueline Sussan and I can't think of the author now but I read all the Falconhurst books (yes it was a very long time ago).

I find some books just too depressing I need a HEA at the end of a book no matter what ups and downs I get thru the book the ending must be HEA for me life is sad enough at times.

But I am glad you are enjoying the bookclub it does sound like lots of fun

Have Fun

Minna said...

I read all kinds of stuff, even The English Language by David Crystal -it's more interesting than the title might suggest.

Janga said...

My reading tastes are eclectic. This week I'm reading Helen Brenna's First Come Twins, Susan Mallery's Straight from the Hip, Margaret Maron's brand new Sand Sharks (Deborah Knott mystery #15), Mary Oliver's The Truro Bear and Other Adventures (poems new and old and a couple of essays--all about animals), and Ward Just's reflective novel about a photographer who "preferred Shakespeare's life to the life of any one of his kings or pretenders, tormented men always grasping for that thing just out of reach."

In a typical week, I read 2-3 romances, a cozy mystery, some poetry, and a literary/general fiction novel or, more rarely, a work of non-fiction. I need all these kinds of reading. Each gives me something specific; each makes my life richer.

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, congrats on the chooky chook! I hope you two have a splendid day together.

I know exactly what you mean about the intensity. I've read some books I thought jumped right over the line between "real emotion" to "seamy underbelly", if you know what I mean. It takes a deft hand to explore the dark topics in a way that is still accessible and human. If you haven't tried Wally, you may want to dip a toe in when you're in the mood.

As to non-fiction, it simply must be a topic (and, often, a writer) I am interested in. I slogged through one about a chef where the man's ego made me shudder, even though his experiences were interesting. I didn't find him interesting. Killed it!

One of my fave humor authors was Erma Bombeck. There have been others, but Erma owns me!

I LOVE cookbooks! I haven't seen Julie and Julia yet, but I know I will want to run out and buy Julia's cookbook and start cooking up a storm. I have blueberry muffins in the oven right now! *g*

Caren Crane said...

So sorry you missed him, Pissenlit!

Caren Crane said...

Anna, I'm the family joke. My entire family adores angsty, tragic books. Then there's me. They keep throwing books at me, hoping they will take. My mother and next older sister read the darkest stuff ever written...and love it! Maybe it makes their lives seem super-great in comparison?? I just can't go there!

But really, no matter what else I read in genre fiction, it's an incredibly different experience to read something that isn't bound by as many rules. Literary fiction has a formula of its own (that I totally don't understand) but it's not like my romance/sf/fantasty/mystery/thriller reads. I find it, when done well, adds a completely different dimension to my reading.

Oh, I also love Amy Tan, for anyone wanting to dip a toe in. I love her and Lisa See. The Chinese perspective and way of writing (even Chinese Americans) is so very different from mine.

Caren Crane said...

Lynz, I find She's Come Undone to be the hardest of Wally's books. His others are much more male in perspective. The one your dad snatched from you is great, though. It's lots about family dysfunction, mental illness and alcoholism. All tender subjects for many of us.

The first one I found hard not so much because of the rape (which was an all-too-familiar older guy/younger girl date rape type scenario) but the subject of abortion. It was only the second book I had read where the story seriously centered around the subject of abortion. The other was The Cider House Rules, if I remember correctly. (Book, not movie, if you care to indulge.)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and Lynz, I want to read the book on nerds! I love historical research of all types and I don't write historicals. The pity!

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Caren!

I loved Cider House Rules, but then I have a thing for John Irving! And Amy Tan is a big favorite of mine, too. The Kitchen God's Wife is on my keeper shelf.And as you know, we share a love of Susan Isaacs. Shining Through is one of my all time faves--and don't get me started on the travesty of the movie!

But Romance still rocks my world! That's why I'm so glad I got involved in the local Romance Book Club--it forces me to keep reading, and to pick up all sorts of different sub genres. Plus, I love being around readers who don't write--they remind me how I used to look at books so differently and keep me grounded!

limecello said...

Um, nothing?! Haha :X I rarely read outside the genre, but if/when I do... it's usually one of the classics. Or a YA book I read growing up. Cynthia Voigt, Madeline L'Engle, Laura Ingalls Wilder, etc.
Um... or some more recent books - like Pulitzers, or... you know, boring cases and documents.
:P Really there's a reason I read romances. It's my break from all the other heavy stuff.

D.D. Scott said...

Hello, Caren!

D. D. Scott here!

Fabulous blog topic!

For me and my reading world, it's all about the everything...and I mean everything...well, there's my beloved Deepak Chopra for my spiritual journey...but even he can be funny...once I figure out what the heck he's saying...LOL!!!

When I'm not reading romance (which I must admit also must usually have some humor in it to make it on my keeper shelf), I'm all about books like Perez Hilton's "Red Carpet Suicide", Chelsea Handler's "Are You There, Vodka? It's Me Chelsea", and Jennifer Weiner's short story collection "The Guy Not Taken".

I guess I must have a bit of celebrity gossip lovin' in me too 'cause nothing beats a gin and tonic and a new Life & Style weekly rag or the latest Hollywood drama or a Cosmo or Glamour hotter-than-hot sex tip of the month. LOL!

Oh...and I also am always devouring some writing craft or journey Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" or Donald Maass's "The Breakout Novel".

Not sure what it means that I go from the depths of the gossip rags to the heights of human goodness with Deepak while also studying how to write better about both aspects of humanity. Hmmm. Freud would have a fabulous time with me! LOL!

Sexy, Sassy, Smart Reading Wishes and Fun, Guilty Pleasures Too --- D. D. Scott

Nancy said...

Fedora, congrats on the rooster! Pissenlit, better luck next time.

Caren, this is an appropriate follow-up to yesterday's blog, continuing the theme of variety. Isn't it funny how things work out sometimes?

I read a lot of nonfiction. I like military history and biography and social history. I've read quite a few memoirs by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, with more waiting. I have a promising book on the Barbary pirates that has been calling to me for months, a book about the Thames, and a book about weird things in history, just to list a few.

Right now I'm reading one of my birthday books, a history of MI5 and MI6, which has made me eager to get back to a book I had to put aside when school became nuts last semester, a weighty tome about technology research for the covert intelligence services.

I also read science fiction, fantasy, and mystery. I rarely can stomach literary fiction. I really need an upbeat, positive ending, and I need it guaranteed. I spent too many years immersed in people's problems, for which there often were no happy endings, to want more of the same in my recreational reading.

There are always exceptions, of course. My favorite, favorite, favorite ever book is To Kill A Mockingbird, which I re-read every few years. Although that's probably "mainstream" or "Southern" fiction, or both, rather than literary. T. R. Pearson's debut novel, A Short History of a Small Place, set in the fictional town of Neely, NC, grabbed and held me. His people talk the way southerners really do--with asides, interjections, and unholy interest in people's family history--and without all the aggravating hokey accents. Probably because Pearson hails from the metropolis of Fuquay-Varina, in your neck of the woods.

I like books by and about writers. A wonderful book for those who can appreciate slightly sarcastic humor is Sixpence House by Paul Collins. It's the fish-out-of-water memoir of a writer who moved his family to Hay-on-Wye, England, a town famed for its many, many used-book shops. It may well be the used book mecca of Europe. Our family read it aloud and loved it. The dh and I have been to Hay-on-Wye, and I think he feared he would never extract me.

Nancy said...

Okay, that didn't come out right despite my reading it in preview. I like books by writers ON WRITING, not just books by writers, which would cover all books. Duh!

Joan said...

Very thought provoking post, Caren.

I read People magazine :-)

I give kudos to you and your book club. I just can't get into the getting together to analyze a book's meaning/message/glossary. I read for enjoyment a writer....learning.

I'm like Anna S. I read across all sub generes of romance so feel like I AM broadening my horizans. The last book not specifically ID'd as romance that I read was Kate's Homicide in Hardcover. Cozy mystery is what ya'll told me it was....I saw/felt the romance simmering in it. In fact, I've begged Kate to take the British hero and the heroine OUT of the cozy into a full blown romance. Hot, hot, hot.

And I'm in the same club as Helen...I don't WANT to explore the seamy, angst ridden life of some character.....all I have to do for that is to open the paper!!!

HEA's. That's for me

Pissenlit said...

Lynz - Better luck next time, Pissenlit... unless I'm going for him, too, in which case I hope you have no luck at all. [insert evil laughter here]

Bwa ha ha! Ditto! *eeevil grin* :D

Oooh, I do believe Wally Lamb's books are not for me. I tend to stay away from books like that 'cause I find them depressing. I recently read The Time Traveler's Wife(argh! every time I type "traveler" I do so with two L's) on a recommendation and though I really liked it, it made me feel sad. Ick. And non-fiction is my "least favourite thing EVAH" too! I haven't read one of those in a loooong while.

Romance isn't my main reading genre so I guess it's not a main course...probably more like one of my palate cleansers when I need a break from my diet of mostly fantasy, sci-fi and mystery(and their sub-genres)...though to be fair, a lot of those that I read have romantic leanings...wait, does that make sense? I think I need more caffeine...

Off to my last softball game of the season! Ugh, too sunny and hot for this.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, I lean toward books that at least have a romantic subplot, too. Though the lack of one doesn't keep me from loving, and periodically re-reading, LOTR.

Over on the B&N bulletin boards, Jeanne is discussing what keeps readers turning pages, along with anything else that comes to posters' minds. For me and for many others who've posted there, a romantic arc is a draw. Pulls me into the story and the character.

Caren Crane said...

Barbara, that is quite a commitment to read Aristophanes for your heroine! *g* Actually, my girls are both in high school now and I often read their required reading so we can discuss it. Plus, there are so many classics (old and newer) I haven't read, it's a good chance to catch up. You'll have to tell us how you enjoy Aristophanes!

Caren Crane said...

Suzanne, curiously I never read Ludlum. My husband has read many of his books (and argued with them, of course *g*) but I was never intrigued. I do love a good thriller though, especially of the action variety. You guys have heard me go on ad nauseum about Harlan Coben, so you know he is my go-to guy for thriller/mysteries. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Jane, you and my husband should start a Daily Show book club. *g* He reads them even if he thinks the person is off-base or has a flawed premise.

He is currently reading a book he hates (and often stops reading to tell me how misguided the author is) but he thinks he must read books that don't support his world view.

There is definitely something to that.

Caren Crane said...

Helen, I often feel as you do: happy-ever-after required. Life is definitely trying enough on its own. My best friend is practically allergic to happy endings in books and eschews them. BUT even she needs an upbeat read from time to time.

I think maybe I need the balance. Of course for me, one Wally Lamb tome is enough to offset about a hundred romances, so you know what my TBR pile is made of!

(I do, however, have the book "Water For Elephants" [I think that's the title] that many people said was a must read a couple of years ago. I bought it...never read it. I plan to one day, but it may take a good long while.)

Caren Crane said...

Minna, it's great to be widely read. I haven't heard of The English Language but the history geek in me is intrigued!

My book club read The Wordy Shipmates for August. It was a rather humorous non-fiction book about the critical differences between Plymouth Puritans and Massachusetts Puritans and how those differences are reflected in the schisms in American society today. It was pretty fascinating and definitely something I would never have found on my own.

Happy reading!

Caren Crane said...

Janga, so far you are a shoe-in for the Eclectic Reader award. I admire the breadth of your reading. I will admit, there are many, many more wonderful books in the world than I have time to read. I am usually working on several at the same time, though sometimes one will sweep me away.

That's why my non-fiction reading must be incredibly compelling (or short). If not, it's hard to stick with it for long. I read (all on my own and not even with book club prompting!) "Eat, Pray, Love". It was incredible and I would highly recommend it. Elizabeth Gilbert has a spectacular and unique voice and her memoir of her journey of self-discovery is a quick, compelling read.

My hat's off to you for your wide-ranging tastes!

Caren Crane said...

Deb, my love! I had no idea you were also a rabid John Irving fan. The World According To Garp was my first foray and I never looked back. One of his hardest books, for me, was A Prayer For Owen Meany. Owen was a hard character to understand and his friend (the book's narrator) was an exceptional person. I kept wanting him to walk away from Owen and his odd baggage, but of course he didn't. Love John Irving!

I think The Kitchen God's Wife is my favorite Amy Tan so far, too. No wonder I love you so much!

Oh, and I agree about needing a boost to read other subgenres in romance. I love it when you or someone else hands me a book I would never have picked up and tells me to give it a go. Left to my own devices, my world would get very small in a hurry!

Caren Crane said...

Lime, isn't it awesome to revisit your childhood favorites? I got to do lots of that reading aloud to my kids. It was wonderful. I am tempted, this winter, to re-read all the Louisa May Alcott books. I may make my youngest read them, too, since she never did as a young child. My older daughter enjoyed the Little House books, but didn't read every one (over and over) like I did. Then again, they had the Harry Potter books and now have the Twilight books and all that. Different times, I suppose.

I can see how you would need some serious fiction to get you away from the boring case documents. I know so many lawyers who are romance readers (even some of the men!). *g*

PJ said...

I'd say about 90% of what I read is HEA Romance. I read primarily for pleasure and entertainment. I've had enough depressing tragedy in my own life. I don't need it in the books I read as well. I belong to a neighborhood book club and they invariably select serious, angst-ridden, usually depressing (think Oprah) books for our monthly meetings. That's more than enough for me. I am looking forward to reading our Sept. selection though. It's Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth.

Outside romance, I enjoy mysteries, political thrillers, historical sagas and biographies/autobiographies but I always go back to romance, my "happy place", after reading a different genre.

Caren Crane said...

D.D., welcome to the Lair! I love humor, too, in almost everything. My favorite authors almost all use it. The tongue-in-cheek kind is my favorite. I am currently reading Kristan Higgins' Too Good To Be True and loving it!

Humor makes everything go down easier. I think my main beef with "literary fiction" is that many of the authors take themselves WAY too seriously. When life is horrible, you have to be able to laugh, especially at yourself, or it would be unbearable.

And I am right there with you in the trash mags, sister! I read "Entertainment Weekly" as soon as it hits my mailbox, read whatever trashy thing is sitting on the rack when I'm in the checkout line, and speed-read months worth of celebrity gossip when getting my hair done. It's so ridiculous! Some of those poor people are just train wrecks waiting to happen. And like a train wreck I can't...look...away. *sigh*

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Women's fiction I also read, in fact im reading Jane Porter's Easy on the's excellent.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, D.D.! I am also a major Jennifer Weiner fan (again, books not movies) and I have been dying to read Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. Chelsea Handler is hilarious.

Minna said...

Caren, there is some history in it, too. Another great book is When Cultures Collide by Richard D. Lewis.
There are also some memoirs and autobiographies I have liked, like the memoirs of Wayne Gretzky, Life on Air, memoirs of David Attenborough (did you know they recently named a carnivorous plant after him?), and Just for Fun about the Finnish computer geek, Linus Torvalds. It was very sweet what he said about his wife.

On the less entertaining side, there's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. I also remember reading about the life of Captain Cook, but I don't remember what that book was called. And I would love to get my hands on a book David Thompson wrote about his travels.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, you prove my point about lawyers needing fiction. *g* I know you have a much stronger constitution than I for non-fiction. My pea brain can only handle so much without needing to get back to Fantasy Island. *g*

Of course, you read insanely interesting stuff and you have a real passion for it, which makes it compelling. I do like coffee table books, though, with lots of pictures. There was one about Plains Indians that was on clearance at B&N a few months back, but money has been tight and I couldn't quite justify it.

Oh! I got the coolest non-fiction book for Christmas last year. It's a huge coffee table book called The Oxford Project and, naturally, it's mostly pictures. This dude took pictures in 1984 of the residents of the small town of Oxford, Iowa. He went back in 2005 and photographed as many of the people as were still there.

The people shared a lot of their stories with him, too, and he made notes about what they told him. It is a fascinating book, both the photography and the stories of these everyday people in middle America. I think the humanity of it pulled me in.

Minna said...

And I love fantasy! David Eddings is one of my all time favorites.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I adore Southern fiction done well. Someone mentioned Margaret Maron, whom I heard speak before I ever began to write. She is a real North Carolinian and it shows!

Another of my favorites is a book called Handling Sin by Michael Moore. His fictional town of Thermopylae, NC will seem very familiar to those who know Pittsboro. *g* A wonderful, dysfunctional, riotous Southern novel. I highly recommend it!

I'll have to check out T.R. Pearson's book. It sounds like my kind of good time!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I got it. *g* A fictional series I loved where a writer gets to indulge his love of books (and nonsense) are the Lost In a Good Book books by Jasper Fforde. Love them!

I think, too, that's part of why our own Kate Carlisle's Homicide In Hardcover was so appealing. Book restoration - fabulous!

Vanessa Kelly said...

Hi Caren! Romance is definitely my read du jour. I spent years in grad school studying English and American lit, and I'm done with much of it. Loved it, but I want something a bit lighter. Like PJ, I read mostly for pleasure and entertainment these days, as well as to bone up on the market.

When I'm not reading romance, I read a lot of history, some science fiction and fantasy, and biographies. I used to read tons of mysteries, but not so much, these days.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Oh, and I love Jasper Fforde!

Suzanne Welsh said...

My husband has read many of his books (and argued with them, of course *g*)..

Ah, Caren, that is why I loved his writing, because I knew nothing about spies, or conspiracies and they hooked me in big time. NO arguing from me.

I used to read Robin his books scared me big time...because I could see how they could actually happen!!!

p226 said...

My genre of choice is non-fiction. I rarely deviate from it. There have been some recent exceptions. I read books by Lisa Gardner and Dianna Love, mainly because I helped with both by providing technical expertise.

I've also deviated from my typical historic / geopolitical nonfiction by reading some philosophical works I'll not name. Think of it as nonfiction about the soul. Talk about stepping outside one's comfort zone.... yeah. That's WAY outside my norm. But like any book, you tend to take from it what you will, and the rest lands on the cutting room floor of your mind.

This leads me to a series of questions for Caren and all the other authors and readers here. If you do not regularly diverge from your genre of choice, do you risk intellectual and spiritual atrophy? Is this ever a concern? How much do the books you read affect your daily thought processes? Your mood? Your world-view?

PS: I've been absent from the lair due to a busy schedule and the fact that my left arm doesn't work right now. Typingg hunt-peck with one hand is quite the chore.

Caren Crane said...

JT, you know how horribly left-brained I can be on occasion. I was the geeky kid in English class who adored exploring the subtext, the structure, the layers of a novel to squeeze every drop of meaning out. I really think THAT is the major appeal of the book club. Someone is finally utilizing something I do tremendously well: analyzing books!

Now, Deb Marlowe is the queen of pinning down exactly why something is or is not working in a book. I, on the other hand, take it as a whole and want to then explore that whole for nuance, shades of meaning, theme. Then I want to draw parallels to my life, world events, the human condition.

Though I can sometimes pull that out of my genre fiction (esp. sf or fantasy with major world building), I mostly find it in classics or more modern literature (said in that snooty way *g*). I love the cerebral exercise. It is something my husband and I share. Though, naturally, his conclusions and mine are often VASTLY different!

Caren Crane said...

Pissenlit, I had conflicted feelings about The Time Traveler's Wife. I loved it, but I hated it. There was, in essence, NO WAY the book could end happily, yet I kept hoping...and hoping...and hoping. The writing was wonderful, the story was masterful and quite original. I dread the movie coming out, because I can't see how it could possibly translate. Ah, well.

Yes, it left me with a residual sadness as well. I decided, in the end, to love it for what it was rather than what I wished it was.

Again, it takes a lot of happy to counteract that.

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, that's a great point. I, too, am far more attracted to books with a romantic subplot or arc in them. I think that's why science fiction and fantasy were big draws for me as a teen. It was romance PLUS. I find books with no spark of romance more challenging to read. I think romance - the quest for love - is such a part of the human experience it's hard to write a book without it.

Look what they ended up doing with the Bourne movies. The love interest was a big part of the first, then the motivator for the second and third movies. Awesome!

Minna said...

And as I'm listening to the Beatles right now, I remembered this autobiography called Shout!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, isn't it funny how most books clubs gravitate to the angst-ridden? I think they feel more "serious" that way. Like, "We are serious readers who read serious books." *g* I plan, as my turn comes up next year to select a book, to find something much more "mainstream with romantic elements" to suggest. I can't throw a straight romance at them, though, because it has to be something the men will enjoy as well. Have to babystep with them. Sorry, P226!

PJ said...

Caren, I always try to sneak something more mainstream in at least once a year. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not but I keep trying.

Caren Crane said...

Marilyn, I also enjoy well-written women's fiction. Deb mentioned Susan Isaacs earlier, one of my favorite authors of women's fiction from way back. Jennifer Weiner is another.

I know the trend is romance is very much toward hero-centric stories, but I love women's stories. I think women's relationships with their mothers, sisters and friends, as well as those with the men in their lives, in interesting and compelling.

I'm with you on the women's fiction!

Caren Crane said...

Minna, I think my husband would love Just For Fun. He is a Linux guy from way back and would enjoy Linus' book!

I'm afraid my taste in memoirs is quite pedestrian. I like the trashy, gossipy ones. The dishier the better! I have no class, really. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Minna, you know what a big David Eddings fan I am. Don't get me started! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Hi, Vanessa! I have a dream where I go back to college and major in English. It's a beautiful dream where I prepare thoughtful analyses of great literature and share them with like-minded readers. *sigh*

Alas, engineering school required no fiction reading at all. Maybe that's why I still long to analyze books, Joanie!

Caren Crane said...

Vanessa, big SQUEE to another Jasper Fforde fan girl! Love him!

Minna said...

Caren, I wonder if Shout! would be trashy enough for you.

Caren Crane said...

Suz, watching to my husband read a book - any book - is a spectator sport. He will even argue with first-person accounts of events. As if he knows ANYTHING about their reality! It is amusing, but kind of drives me crazy at times.

I don't think I ever read any Robin Cook. Wait, I Googled him. I see he writes medical thrillers. Yes, those would terrify me, because I know nothing about medicine and would totally buy into any end-of-world medical scenarios. They must be good if they scared you, with all your medical knowledge!

Suzanne Welsh said...

If you do not regularly diverge from your genre of choice, do you risk intellectual and spiritual atrophy? Is this ever a concern? How much do the books you read affect your daily thought processes? Your mood? Your world-view?..

Interesting questions, p226.

I don't know about others, except maybe Joan, but I deal quite often in the muck of other people's daily lives. Most often it is a joyous occasion with a birth of a child, occasionally the worst with the loss of the baby or mother...and sometimes the soap-operas of their lives...not to mention co-workers. So, the non-fiction I read is directly related to medicine, OB in particular. And I prefer to avoid the darker no HEA fiction for those reasons.

A friend of mine reads memoirs about people whose lives are more dysfunctional than hers, (and since I know the trauma she's gone through with her first marriage and spouse, that is saying a lot.) She says it makes her feel better about her life. Me, I want to see the HEA to restore my own soul. I like the idea that love can conqueor all.

Caren Crane said...

P226, so good to have you back in the Lair! I'm sorry to hear about your arm and hope it heals quickly.

I hear you about the philosophical books. I get on a kick sometimes and will read books on philosophy and/or religion until my brain hurts.

I think everything I ingest affects my world view and mood. I force myself to listen to and read the news so that I won't get too insular. I'm not as good as my husband about forcing myself to read books (or listen to commentators) I disagree with, but I love to hear him talk about the books and commentary because it forces me to put myself in someone else's mindset.

I think there is a real danger in becoming too focused on any one thing. You can't help but lose perspective doing that. My husband talks a lot about the dangers of only reading/watching/listening to things that reinforce your already-established world view and I agree with him on that.

If you spend a lifetime going over familiar ground or only hanging out with people who think like you do, how and when do you grow? As writers, if we only read the sorts of stories we write, how do we infuse our writing with anything different or fresh or interesting?

While the themes in my writing will most likely never change, the ways I write about them will. I hope to always be looking outward, searching for other thoughts and experiences. I want to understand people who don't think like I do, to crawl into their skin for at least a short while and see why they believe what they believe and how their experiences informed their world view.

I hope I am always and ever curious and wanting to know and understand.

Caren Crane said...

Minna, I think Shout would be a great read. I find the Beatles' story endlessly fascinating!

Caren Crane said...

PJ, we may have to form a club of our own for book club subversives! *g*

Keira Soleore said...

Caren, loved your blog and your list. My reading in romance forms the mainstay of my reading time. Other than that, I read children's fiction and research nonfiction. Once in a while, I read historical fiction, British classic crime, or memoirs. But what is popularly (hur!) known as 'literary fiction' has almost completely dropped off these days.

Fedora, congrats!

catslady said...

I've read two of Wally Lamb's (given to me by my daughter) - I'll put that one on my tbb list :) For another huge book that I loved - Ken Follet's Pilliars of the Earth. My daughter is a reading snob so we've been reading a lot of oprah's picks - some good some not so good. And I love Jodi Picoult.

Caren Crane said...

Suz, that's a great point. In nursing, you and Joan see lots of human suffering and probably the best and worst of humanity. I, on the other hand, have a boring desk job. There is nothing emotional in 99% of what happens at my desk every day. If I were in an emotionally-charged environment like you guys, I would probably welcome a happy ending even more.

That said, I think it would be intellectually stunting for me if I didn't challenge myself and my own beliefs from time to time. Just something I feel the need to do to make sure I have seen other sides of life I normally would not.

Minna said...

There is also this book called Hard Days Book (I think it was called that) about how The Beatles songs were written. I have to ask about that one in the library. I've intended to read that one for some time.

Minna said...

Oh, and there is another interesting autobiography, Next of Kin. It's about a chimp called Washoe.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Caren, a friend of mine is reading A WORLD WITHOUT END, or as we've dubbed it, A BOOK WITHOUT END. It's a 1000 page historical fiction that takes place in the 1300's. I've already asked to read it when she's done based on the conversations we've had about it. THAT will be a great deviation for me from my norm.

Caren Crane said...

Keira, you put me in mind of a phenom I noticed in my own life. When I was a teen, I read mostly genre fiction and assigned reading for school. In college, I read women's fiction and literary fiction - when I had the time. When I was a mother of young children, I read lots of children's books (to them and to vet for them). I also began to once again read romance and genre fiction as an escape.

Now that the empty nest is a few short years away, I am picking up more women's fiction again and trending back toward a bit more literary fiction. I think our tastes change as we enter different phases of life. I will never stop reading romance.

I love the romantic arc and the journey toward trust and love between the hero and heroine. But I know that as I get older, I want to explore more of life's not-so-bright spots. So, I see more literary fiction and even - GASP! - non-fiction in my future. Part of my journey as a reader, I suppose.

Caren Crane said...

Ok, Catslady, that is the second mention of Ken Follett's book. I think I may have to put that one in a pile somewhere. I think it's great that you and your daughter read the same books. Makes for great conversation! Or a very exclusive book club. *g*

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

When I'm not reading romance, I tend to gravitate toward YA and urban fantasy and some mystery series that I like. I'm a fan of recurring characters, and the UF and mystery series feed that.

I don't often read the heavier, more "depressing" stuff. I like to come away from a book feeling better or looking forward to the next book in a series. I have read some of the more literary things, but they aren't my first choice.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) said...

Jane, I'm constantly finding interesting nonfiction books to read by watching The Daily Show. But I don't have time to read them. Wah!

Caren Crane said...

Suz, I just looked up World Without End and saw it is the sequel to Ken Follett's The Pillars Of the Earth. I am surrounded by Ken Follett! I suppose I'll be putting that one on the pile as well. If I get hooked on one (which I'm sure will happen) I'll need to read both. Happy reading and let me know how awesome it is!

Caren Crane said...

Minna, the chimp book is intriguing. I also read there is a book out now called Me Cheetah - the purported autobiography of Cheetah the chimpanzee from the movies - that is up for the Man Booker prize. That makes me laugh.

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I have several published author friends whose reading is so limited by deadlines they tend to stick to research type non-fiction. I think that would make me crazy. Then again, I'd be happy to have deadlines so maybe crazy would be okay. *g*

And we all know you manage to find time to watch your must-see TV on Tivo, so there goes your reading time. *g*

Minna said...

I also love these books about other people's travels. David Thompson's and David Attenborough's books would fall to that category, too.

Minna said...

that is up for the Man Booker prize.

Well, genetically there isn't all that much difference.

Joan said...


No, I don't feel I'm atrophying by my choice in leisure reading.

I'm not being elitist or snobbish and for me, differentiating between "other fiction" and "Oprah fiction" is key. Oprah fiction has evolved from affirming stories for women (usually) to such angst driven plots that you want to just crawl into a closet.

And comparing fiction with me there is no comparison. The non-fiction I read is for research for my books "Roman Government in the 1st century AD". Interesting stuff (about 10 levels as complicated as our OWN government)but I wouldn't read it for entertainment.

My most recent research reading is "A Complete Guide to Fairies and Other Magical Beings".

Now, on the surface you'd think this is a scholarly discussion of the "myths" of such...but not too long into the first chapter you realize that the author firmly believes {and who am I to doubt, says Joanie T looking around for a fae or brownie listening in..)that all the information given is based in solid fact.

Fascinating stuff and's opened my world to the idea of magic...which I already suspected after my many trips to Ireland :-)

Another factor for me would be lack of exposure to "buzz" about other genre fiction authors/books. I don't see reviews or hear hype like I do for my romance titles. So....unless it is recommended to me by someone...I don't go looking for it.

And typing with one hand? YOu better be so you HEAL!!!

Joan said...

Suz has a good point.

Working with the public...the public faced with illness and trauma and all the healthcare worries of our current state of affairs wears you out.

Drama often cannot BEGIN to describe it...both patients and co-workers. Makes my head hurt.

Sabrina said...

I like Amy Tan and Susan Isaacs, too! I also loved Augusten Burroughs memoir and a collection of his essays. I have the occasional book of literary or semi-literary fiction that I'll delve into, usually because it deals with autism (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I LOVED) or it piques my interest for some other reason (I have The Lovely Bones on my TBR pile). But mostly it's romance for me. As Anna said, I barely have time for all the romance novels I want to read!

Sabrina said...

Oh, and I adored John Irving's World according to Garp, although I haven't read any of his others.

Minna said...

But right now I could really use a book that would tell me how to get rid of a rodant that seems to be having a party every night -and day inside a wall. You know autumn is coming when rodants want to move inside. I suppose it's the same one I saw rushing under the stairs on the outside from a very narrow hole. I have already set the traps in case it finds its way out of the wall and inside some room.

Kate Diamond said...

Cool! I think joining a book group would be awesome, but that's on my list of things I'm too lazy to ACTUALLY do.

I actually really like reading nonfiction. When I'm not reading romance, I'll pick up some Susan Jane Gilman or David Sedaris for essay-reading fun. Or I'll read a history book (I was a history major in college. Love me some WWII scholarship...)

Caren Crane said...

Minna, since I have no hope of ever doing the extensive travel I long to do (unless I get really, really lucky in Powerball), memoirs of other people's travels are right up my alley! I think the travel part of Eat, Pray, Love was as interesting as her spiritual journey.

Caren Crane said...

JT, I am awed that you managed to slog through a text on Roman government. Good grief! They invented the Republic, after all, and Rome was a case study in political intrigue. I know there were sexy political intrigues going on, but I'm afraid that's not the sort of research you ran across. Oy.

The magic book sounds fascinating! It's cool that the author is writing an authoritative text as a true believer. I'm sure that sets your imagination on fire!

Caren Crane said...

Sabrina, YOU were one of my published author friends with no time to read mentioned earlier. *g* I know for a fact you have books you've meant to read for years and haven't got to yet.

Is there a special name for the quasi-memoir of the sort Augusten Burroughs has written? He admits he has embellished and embroidered. So, when does a book segue from memoir to fiction? I also heard he intended to write a straight fiction novel, but haven't heard anything more about it.

I've wanted to read The Curious Incident since you first read it and raved about it. At this rate, I may get it to it by the time I retire. In 2030...

Caren Crane said...

Minna, you need a cat. *g* I have one that would take out any rodent, bird or, really, anything that moves. I've seen him leaping at butterflies and all sorts of things. He's a mad hunter! I hope your little mouse friend stays outside and doesn't come in to visit.

I dream of autumn! August is steamy, hot and horrible in North Carolina. The heat won't break until late September and then we'll have to close the swimming pool. We have about another 5 or 6 weeks of swimming weather.

Caren Crane said...

Kate, I haven't read Susan Jane Gilman, but I checked out her website and she seems like my kind of great read.

I own every Dave Sedaris book ever put together (even though some stories are repeats). I love his scathing memories of Raleigh from 30 years ago. He has recently said it bears almost no resemblance to its former self - which is true. Dave is hilarious and another master of the quasi-memoir.

Also, I have seen his brother Rooster's van at the Kroger at lunchtime: Sedaris Hardwood Floors. His family who are here are all listed in the phone book. I think he and Amy just make the rest of the family scratch their heads. *g*

Sabrina said...

The Burroughs memoir is Running with Scissors. I think he's hilarious--I actually first read him when I picked up a collection of his essays at Mr. Toad's--Magical Thinking. He had one about his brother, who has Asberger's (and has a book of his own), but I was sucked into the essays long before I got to that one.

He does have one novel, Sellevision. It's a spoof on home shopping networks, I think, but I haven't read it.

Alas, you're right--I don't have much time to read, but I'm trying to make more time for it. Unfortunately, right now I'm swamped reading books for quotes (I've done five in the past few months), but I'm going to call a halt to that for a while. In that time I did manage to read one other book, so that's about 2 books a month. That's not TOO awful, is it? Especially considering that I had an Aug. 1st deadline.

Oh, and I love Ken Follett, too!

Becke Davis said...

The only book of Wally's I've read was She's Come Undone. My daughter just discovered him this summer.

I'm a big fan of Joshilyn Jackson, Jennifer McMahon, Melissa Nathan, Sarah Addison Allen and a few other female authors that aren't usually sold in the romance section of the bookstore.

I also read all kinds of mysteries -- too many to list -- and any fiction or non-fiction that happens to catch my eye. Right now I'm reading Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Wowie-zowie! What a great discussion! :>

Fedora, great snatch-and-grab on the chook this morning. Pissenlit, a feather short, but he's pining for you, I know. (Rascal bird that he is.)

I love everyone's other choices in reading. Caren, as you know, I'm a major Eddings fan too. :>

P226, what a great questions about atrophy. (Which is also a great word, BTW)

I read everything, up to and including cereal boxes. I read comic books, I read kids books. (Hey, I've GOT kids, I have no choice) I read some YA - Tricia Mills, anyone? - and a lot of suspense.

Love Ludlum. Love DeMille. I adore Mercedes Lackey's work, and, along with Nancy and a fan of Laura Gilman's Retriever series. I think Patricia Briggs rocks. I really adored our own Kate Carlisle's mystery, Homicide in Hardcover. I like The Lillian Jackson Braun's cozy mysteries. I like All the Kinzie Milhone mysteries - A is for Alibi and so on.

Then there's the non-fiction. I tend to read success literature - Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, etc. - and philisophical stuff like The Tipping Point, The Black Swan, etc.

I'm currently reading Ellen Dugan's Garden Witch's Herbal, since she's going to be my guest here in October, to chat about modern witches and how they're portrayed in romance.

I just re-read a book on forensics by a friend of mine, called Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand. It's amusing and serious at the same time.

I tend to avoid the grit and guts, unless its non-fiction. I liked Amy Tan, but she loses me sometimes too. When Oprah stared on Faulkner, I deserted the field. (No offense to fans, but I despise him)

I'm a Thurber girl. Grins.

Caren Crane said...

Sabrina, congrats on averaging 2 books a month. I think that's a lot, considering how much time you spend writing. You'll have to let me borrow the Burroughs book of essays sometime. I'm sure he's hilarious.

Yes, call a temporary cease to the giving of quotes for your sanity's sake! Unless, you know, *I* need one or something. *eg*

Joan said...

Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand


Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Becke, new reads for me! I haven't read any of the authors you named, so I'll have to look them up. I know you run the Mystery forum at (where, by the way, our own Jeanne Adams is guesting this month!), so I'm not surprised to hear you read widely in mystery.

I have only played in the shallow end of the mystery pool, I'm afraid. Agatha Christie first, then Lillian Jackson Braun, then Elizabeth Peters. Of course, my beloved Harlan Coben is my latest addition. LOVE HIM!

Thanks for popping in, Becke. Hey, y'all, be sure to check out Becke's Mystery forum at and look for Jeanne's thread!

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, you crack me up. Faulkner, hm. Yes, I'd give him a pass as well. I never read much Thurber, but he seemed to have a keen handle on the human condition and what makes people tick.

You were SO LUCKY to have a librarian dad, I swear! My father was a veterinarian. We had a houseful of animals in addition to the five of us kids. Growing up with all the pets (and working in the veterinary clinic summers as a teen) convinced me I never wanted to have a dog or cat in the house again.

I may change my mind someday, but for now, the only cats we ever have are those born feral who prefer the great outdoors (and kitty condos in the garage with blankets and lights for heat in the winter, naturally).

I would have adored having a librarian in the family. *sigh*

Caren Crane said...

Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand

Best. Title. EVAH! (But you're right, JT, it's super icky!)

Nicki Salcedo said...

I've been in a co-ed reading group for years. I try to get them to read a romance every now and then just to annoy them. :) A lot of traditional fiction has major romantic elements, but they just don't end happily (Ha Jin's Waiting, Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain). We read young adult fiction (The Book Thief) and non-fiction, too.

I love literary fiction AND I love romance. I don't feel like I should have to choose between the two. My favorites recently Notes on a Scandal, And Then There Were None, Life of Pi, EL Doctorow's The March.

Tonight my date is with Wicked Little Game by Christine Wells. I'd say I have a very well balanced reading diet! Thanks, Caren.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren and Joanie said: Never Suck a Dead Man's Hand

Best. Title. EVAH! (But you're right, JT, it's super icky!)

And the story behind it is even ickier and funnier. Hahaha.

Mary Marvella said...

I read women's fiction and whatever I find. I read some mainstream books and even an occasional young adult book.
OK I admit it. I still love fairytales!

Caren Crane said...

Nicki, I didn't read Notes On a Scandal but I saw the movie. Cate Blanchett was wonderful, as was Judy Dench. Great movie, but a hard subject.

I have heard from many people that Life Of Pi is wonderful. I guess that one will have to go on the pile, as well!

Nicki, I think you're lucky to have a book club that is willing to diversify. So far, we have had only literary fiction and non-fiction. I'm planning to rock their world, though. I may start with a mystery. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Jeanne, I may have to read the book now, unless you're willing to divulge all over a glass of wine...

Caren Crane said...

Mary, honey, I am so not surprised you still love fairy tales. I do, too! Though these days, those dark, original ones from way back in the day hold more appeal than they used to. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Thanks for playing, y'all, and for sharing all your wonderful reads. P226, I hope you got some fodder for your Deep Thoughts! It looks like many of us noodle around in other genres and dabble in non-fiction. What a well-rounded crowd we are!

P.S. I am always open to more suggestions for the TBR pile from every slice of the literary world!

Sabrina said...

"Yes, call a temporary cease to the giving of quotes for your sanity's sake! Unless, you know, *I* need one or something. *eg*"

But of course, my dear! You always have first dibs on quotes.

Becke Davis said...

Thanks for plugging the Mystery Book Club, Caren -- Jeanne has broken all records for the number of comments in a two week period, and I made sure the admins know it!

Let me know if you like those authors -- others I like are Lisa Unger, Laura Lippman, Laurie R. King, Jennifer Weiner, Ruth Rendell and Tana French. My daughter just finished The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe and she said that was wonderful! (I'm going to borrow it from her next time she comes up.)

catslady said...

Just wanted to add that my daughter read World Without End and loved it. Unfortunately for me she's been visiting the library instead of buying them so I'll have to decide what to do (my tbr pile is huge, huge, huge lol). She also borrowed the Wally Lamb book you mentioned and enjoyed it. At the moment she has me hooked on Twilight and although she has the first two books she again borrowed the last two. Darn it all lol.

Keira Soleore said...

Minna, I have met Washoe the sign-language-talking chimp. Doesn't live too far from where I do.