Wednesday, February 28, 2007

It's all the characters ...

I don't read much any more.

I used to be a voracious reader, but I barely read a book a month any more. I read when I travel, and I do listen to books on tape when I'm working out at the gym. That's the way I do most of my 'reading'.

I think since I started writing I've gotten more critical about other writers and what gets published. How often have you picked up a book, read it and said, 'I write this good.' Come on, be honest. It's been a long, long time since a book really intrigued me and 'swept me away'. Heck, I don't know how long it's been since that ...

That said, there are a couple of authors I automatically buy. Julian May is one. I loved the whole "Jack the Bodiless" series, as well as the Pleiocene Exile series. Martha Grimes -- I love Richard Jury and Melrose Plant (to be honest, I love Plant more than Jury, and it's not because of his money).

To my sadness, there are some authors I can't read any more, they just take too much time. Diana Gabaldon -- too much effort. You need Cliff Notes to get through her books. James Clavell. I tried re-reading Shogun, and just didn't get into it the way I did the first time. I still think Noble House is one of the best books ever written, though, and it ranks up there with 'books I'd be stranded on a desert island with'. I tried re-reading David Eddings, Tolkein, Brooks, but can't get into them any more. I think you have to be new to myth to enjoy those. I re-read Galsworthy, Henry James, and William Dean Howells last year, and still enjoyed them all. And I can always read the poems of Stephen Crane.

I re-read War for the Oaks (Emma Bull) and enjoyed it even more now that I live in the Twin Cities. And Tea With the Black Dragon (R.A. MacAvoy) is still oddly mystical and charming. I can re-read Amanda Quick but not Jayne Anne Krentz. Affair is still my favorite, and I still like Family Man. I don't read much else by romance authors, they all sort of sound the same. Perhaps it's because JAK is the first one I read when I started reading romance, 3 years ago (yes, just 3 years. Never cracked a romance book before then).

I think the reason I love Martha Grimes is because of the characters. I've seen them grow and change through many books, and it is like visiting an eccentric family. And her books are WITTY. I mean, her characters are really sharp and funny in a dry, sly way. I like books that are smart. I also like a good story. I re-read The Great Steamboat Race about every 7 years. It's just a damn good story.

But my bookshelf has been weeded through and I have very few keepers any more. I haven't found a series to engage me the way I have been in the past. Is it the writing or is it me? I'm not sure, but I know I have a greater appreciation for those authors who do really intrigue me. It's an art form that relies heavily on craft, and I know now how hard it is to accomplish that.

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