Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Favorite Books and Authors

Siesta Mama Beth had a great post on the LPM blog yesterday, asking the siestas to post the title and author of a book they love, along with a brief description and reason for the selection. What a fabulous topic!

I love to read, and even in those periods when I have no free time for any of my other hobbies, I still manage to read. There are some days where I just keep going, slogging through the day so I can get to the time at night when I can curl up in my favorite chair and read. I tend to read lots of fiction, and I like historical fiction, epic sagas spanning multiple generations. I don’t generally like romance novels, science fiction, or fantasy, although I absolutely love books that explore time travel. I don’t know why that is; perhaps I have some deep subconscious longing to go back in time and change my past, I really don’t know. *Grin*

So, I have lots of favorite books and authors, and I thought I would summarize a few here.

A few of my Favorite Authors (in no particular order):

Mark Helprin – His writing is just lyrical; he tells a story lush with details, rich in thoughts and emotions of the characters, and the imagery and the story just sucks you in. My favorite of his books is “A Soldier of the Great War”. I took this on a plane trip years ago when I was flying overseas, and I think I read for 12 hours straight. Just couldn’t stop…. I’ve also read “Winter’s Tale”, which has some of the most lyrical and magical descriptions and images, but the actual story was quite strange.

Ivan Doig – He wrote a fabulous trilogy set in the mountains of Montana. The books are “Dancing at the Rascal Fair”, “English Creek” and “Ride with Me, Mariah Montana”. Dancing at the Rascal Fair, which tells the story of early Scottish immigrants, is (IMHO) the best of the three. The story in itself is wonderful, but I especially loved how the interplay of the characters changes over time – friends become enemies, people reconcile, people change and grow apart; these characters with all their quirks and difficulties felt so real to me.

Jodi Picoult – I don’t agree with the worldview she portrays in her books, and I think some of her plots are simply too far-fetched, but she is such a talented writer, and when she writes in first person, you really get to understand the character’s thoughts. She seems to have great insight into what teenagers are thinking, feeling, and actually doing. My favorite of her books is “My Sister’s Keeper”, but I would also recommend “Mercy” and “The Pact”. I just finished reading her new book, “Handle with Care”, and it is excellent too.

John Steinbeck - Another fabulous story teller, who doesn’t rush to tell the story but just lets it unfold and makes you feel you are really there, in that time period, seeing the story happen. “East of Eden” is my favorite, but I also loved “Cannery Row” and “Pastures of Heaven”. “Grapes of Wrath” is one of those books that everyone should read….

Jan Karon - Doesn't everyone want to live in Mitford? The entire Mitford series is magical. It's like a comfortable, soft fleecy blanket that you want to curl up with on the couch. Cozy, happy, and reminds you that life and people are good.

James Herriot - I almost wanted to become a vet after reading his memoirs of his years as a rural vet in England. Hysterically funny moments!

Top Ten Favorite Novels (again, in no particular order):

* A Soldier of the Great War – Mark Helprin (see above)
* Dancing at the Rascal Fair – Ivan Doig (see above)
* East of Eden – John Steinbeck (see above)
* Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop CafĂ© – Fannie Flagg. I have read this many times, and I still laugh out loud at Towanda and the car crash incident in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot, and I still cry when Ruth dies. I simply like the characters in this book.
* A Marriage Made at Woodstock – Cathie Pelletier. I have never laughed so much when reading a book! This is the story of Frederick and Chandra Stone, who fell in love at Woodstock. Years later, Frederick has become a stuffy accountant, and Chandra is still a hippie-type animal activist. The book, told from Frederick’s point of view, details their break-up and his attempts to win Chandra back. It is just hilarious! I think it is out of print and hard to find, but so worth it…
* Time and Again – Jack Finney. A tale of time travel, so of course, I love this! This tells the story of Simon Morley, who is chosen to participate in an experiment to go back in time to 1890’s New York. The premise of the experiment is that if a person immerses themselves in the details and objects of a particular time period, they can return to that time. This is such a fun story and mystery, and I love the rich descriptions of New York in the 1890’s… Jack Finney also wrote a similar book, “From Time to Time” and a book of short stories, “About Time” that also deal with time travel, and they’re great reads too.
* The Time Traveler’s Wife – by Audrey Niffenegger. Yes, another time travel book, but from a totally different point of view. This is such a clever and intricate weaving of the past and present times of the two main characters, Henry and Claire. Brilliant storytelling.
* Trilogy by Ole Rolvaag – “Giants in the Earth”, “Peder Victorious” and “Their Father’s God”. This is the best series of books I have ever read on the American immigrant experience. It details the story of Norwegian immigrants to the Dakota plains in the late 1890’s, and it gave me an appreciation for the work, sacrifice, and cost required to establish this country.
* Far Pavilions – M.M. Kaye – A saga set in India during time when British influence there was beginning to crumble. I read it years ago and the suttee scene still haunts me.
* Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell. Just classic.

I think I could easily list another 20 books, but I’ll stop here!
How about you? What are your favorites?



Moose Mama said...

Ok, my cerebral friend. I have only read East of Eden and Gone With the Wind from your list. However....unlike you... I have read Redeeming Love! :)


fuzzytop said...

Melana - You are cracking me up again.... I may have to make another attempt to read "Redeeming Love" again. I'm thinking about it!


Lora said...

The only one I've heard of off your list is Gone with the Wind. Melana cracks me up! I've read Redeeming Love too!

Sandee said...

Oh, I forgot all about Far Pavilions! I LOVED that book many moons ago. I may have to hunt it down and read it again.