In the interests of not talking about sick kids, weight-loss goals or anything else vaguely depressing, I decided to go in a different direction and share some of my favorite things with the blog. Today, some of my favorite authors and books. Tomorrow, who knows?
I read a lot. I mean a lot. Some of my earliest memories are of being read to by various family members, and I really don't remember when I learned to read myself. It's just always been part of my life. I started out with childhood classics - the "Little House" series, Louisa May Alcott's books, that sort of thing - but quickly developed an interest in fantasy. So a lot of my favorite authors would be categorized as fantasy writers, but please don't discount them because of their "label". There's a lot to chew on in these books.
And now, in (somewhat) random order - the list!
First of all, the Bible. Whether you believe it or not, it's still a fantastic piece of literature and filled with beautiful poetry and prose, as well as a lot of very smart advice for daily living. I encourage everyone to read the Bible sometime. And even though I'm what could be categorized a "conservative Christian", I won't tell you to read it because you "should". Read it because it's good, because it can be life-changing, and because there's a reason it's been around for so very many years: it works. Like I said, there's an awful lot of just basic common sense in the Bible, and using it as a guideline for daily life isn't going to steer you wrong. If you get curious about God in the process, well, I consider that a bonus. :-)
Robin McKinley is way up my list of incredible authors. This woman's command of language turns me fifteen shades of green with envy. Her writing is so rich that you just fall into the stories. I think I have almost all her books, and most of them are decidedly the worse for wear because I've read them so many times. For folks who enjoy classic fairy-tales, try "Rose Daughter" - it's a different look at the story of "Beauty and the Beast" and it's pure magic.
Of course, if you're going to talk fantasy, you have to talk J.R.R. Tolkien. There's really not much I could say about this man that hasn't been said already. The movies were surprisingly well-done, I thought, but they still don't begin to compare to the books. Tolkien had whole worlds in his mind, and he had the skill to share them with us. He didn't just write the Lord of the Rings series, either, although that alone would have been more than enough to make him a household name. Go to the library and start with "The Hobbit", and see what you think.
A quick aside - one thing that always puzzles me is why so much of the really good fantasy out there is considered "children's" or "young adult" literature. What, if it's not full of sex and violence it can't be for adults? On the flip side, some of the stuff that I see in the YA/children's sections makes me go "Whaaaaaaat???" It just seems inappropriate to me. But I suppose that's another discussion. At any rate, to me, good writing is good writing, regardless of the age group the publisher is trying to target with their marketing.
If you're looking for classics, anything by Louisa May Alcott is a good bet. She was quite a radical in her day and her books reflect many of her outrageous (at the time) ideas. Most people are only familiar with "Little Women", but she wrote many other books. If you want to really appreciate Alcott's writing, find an edition in the original language, not one of the "modernized" versions. Many of the "updated" versions have made significant alterations to the story, and the wording that has been substituted is often inaccurate when compared to the original. You may have to look up a few words, but it's worth it to really read it as it was written.
I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of romance novels. For one thing, it's tough to find "romance" that doesn't seem to be mostly sex. For another thing, I think a lot of the books (and movies, and television shows) that are out there give people a completely false idea of what romance and relationships should really be. (Again, I think that's another discussion.) However, I do like Lori Wick. She writes Christian romance, frequently in various historical settings, that is much more believable than most. Her story lines are good, character development is strong, and she seems to do a good job with her background research, which I really appreciate.
Wow, this is getting long. Okay, I'm just going to rattle off some more of my favorite authors, and if anyone wants to hear more from me about one of them, let me know! Again, in no particular order: C.S. Lewis, John Piper, Mercedes Lackey, Caroline Stevermer, Gene Stratton Porter, Rick Riordan, Anne McCaffrey, J.K. Rowling, Emilie Loring, Mary Stewart, Heather Dixon, Patricia McKillip, Philip Yancey, L. Frank Baum, Christopher Stasheff, Madeleine Brent, Susan Cooper, Tamora Pierce, Michael Scott....ummm.......Okay, good enough! Also anything about knitting, beadwork, architecture, interior design....oh, and biographies. How's that for a start? So now you know some of my favorite things! What are some of yours?