Thursday, January 20, 2005


"A good book is the best of friends, the same today and forever..." Martin Farquhar Tupper

The last couple of days my writing has consisted mainly of the blog and various random notes. However I did spend some time yesterday browsing in a book store, and this is one of my favorite diversions. Unfortunately I don't always have a lot of extra money to spend on books, but I do like seeing what's available, the lastest best-sellers, and generally just checking to see what I'd buy if I could afford to.

The books I saw that caught my eye yesterday were those containing short studies on 100 philosophers, Travel Tales of Cuba, and an especially attractive coffee-table book titled "Shakespeare's Flowers" which had glorious photos of flowers accompanied by quotes from Shakespeare.

A person recently commented to me: "How can you be a writer if you don't read?"
I found this comment unwarranted, mainly because this person was criticising me because I don't necessarily read the books he reads himself. I will admit my time for pleasure-reading is at a minimum, but that's because I spend a lot of time reading what pertains to my type of writing, including a lot of history books that I use for reference and research.

I tend to read for pleasure when I'm travelling, or on the bus going to and from work, or on my breaks at work. Once home I'm usually busy writing. And I'm not one to read in bed, though when I was young I think I ruined my eyesight reading by the hall light when I was supposed to be sleeping.

I've loved reading as much as writing for as long as I can remember. I still have my very first favorite story book "The Honey Bear" which I'd plead to have read every night when I was tucked in. When I was in school I'd bring home stacks of books from the library, mostly historical fiction books. I recall once, when I was fourteen, I somehow got a copy of a racy paperback titled "The Chinese Room". We were on a camping weekend with some Church young people and my parents. I, the pastor's daughter, was secretly entertaining my tent buddies with passages out of the book, in particular naughty bits like the one about the concubine with rouged nipples. Somebody ratted on me and I was in big trouble! The book was tossed into the bonfire. This was my first experience with 'censorship'. But that didn't stop a curious bookworm like me. Another time I obtained a forbidden copy of a 'banned' book titled "Maria Monk" which I hid in a brown paper cover.

In my youth I was fond of Mickey Spillane detective stories and that likely gave me the idea of becoming a crime reporter. But really, historical fiction has always been my main passion and interest. I love the writing of Margaret George, and especially Mary Renault who I read over and over again, and my current favourite, Steven Pressfield.

There are hundreds of good books out there. I just wish I had time to read them all. Belonging to a Book Club would be a good way to solve this, if only I had the time for it. To read or to write...there must be a way I can balance both.

Some of my favorite authors, (and I'd like to read more of their work) are:
Rohinton Mistry "Such a Long Journey", Salman Rushdie "Midnight's Children", anything by Isabel Allende and other Latin American writers, Louis de Bernieres "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" which I read and enjoyed so much after the first time I visited Kefalonia, Greece.
Of course there's the classics too, and other favorite authors such as Jack Kerouac, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. (I just visited some of his haunts in Havana, drank a daiquiri in La Floradita and posed beside a bronze image of him at the bar.) There are so many more...

Have you read a good book lately?

"'Tis the good reader that makes the good book; -- in every book he finds passages which seem confidences or asides hidden from all else and unmistakably meant for his ear."
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Diana Gallagher said...

The books of my youth were the 'Famous Five' and the 'Secret Seven'. Both of these series made me want desperately for a club and a club house to have secret meetings in.

John Schramm said...

I first read "1984" (Orwell) in 1984, but I am presently reading it again. there's a lot I remember reading before, and a lot more that I don't. My perceptions of the world ahve surely changed, and this book rings frightenly true today as it ever did. At least, for me.