I love to read. I remember starting the first grade, and some of the were more advanced than I was. Well, I am not generally a competitive person, but there was no way I was going to let anyone read better than I did. By the third grade, I had a college reading and comprehension levels. The only downside was finding any other subject in school completely boring. I thank my mother, though, for giving me such a love of literature. I have always used books as an escape from reality, so I have some nice little vacations with good books whenever I can.
While my friends were struggling with compound words and early grammar lessons, I was reading Caddie Woodlawn, Little House on the Prairie and Island of the Blue Dolphins. I found reading to be the best escape when it was my turn to be on the bad side of the neighborhood kids who would ostracize a different person every week. My poor parents would ground me, but I would just go grab a book and read, so while I did not like losing my choice in activities, I at least was still easily entertained. I looked up everything I could find on dinosaurs, sea creatures, and mythology. I even liked biographies about people like Theodore Roosevelt and Betsy Ross.
When I was in my teens, I started reading the horror novels that my parents owned by Stephen King. I find it interesting that I was more terrified of his stories than I was ever scared by a movie. I think imagination is much better than having somebody else draw the picture for me. Stephen King is not only very good at painting a picture with words, he develops characters that are incredibly real. After I read “The Mist,” I was literally afraid to go to the bus stop in the occasional morning fog. I would wait until I saw the bus before I would run to meet it.
I also began to like fantasy, folklore and mystery during my teens. I loved the series by Wendy and Richard Pini, Elf Quest. The art work is amazing, and the stories were wonderful. This was my introduction to the graphic novel. I also really loved the books about the ancestors of the tribe of wood elves, the Wolfriders. I am a fiend for information like that. Every time I pick up one of the graphic novels, I feel like I am going to a reunion with family and friends. I was really about eleven or twelve when my sister got the graphic novels, but I would go outside and make bows and arrows from what I had available. Oddly, a lot of it worked. By the time I was a teen, I was much too cool to play like that, but I loved the combination of the Pini’s and the world they created.
My favorite folklore was usually found in scary stories and legends. I loved to read about the “true” ghost stories and the unexplained events in certain regions. I remember reading several books with tales like that. I do not remember in any particular titles, but I liked to read the stories then terrify my younger sister and my friends with those things. Of course, there was a creepy house on the way to school that I had convinced people that somebody was murdered there. It was just a ramshackle house that somebody could not afford to fix, but kids do love a good ghost story. I would check out tons of books with those themes.
Mystery is another genre that I love. There is only one writer who has ever stumped me, and she is Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters. There is only one of her stories where I guessed who the bad guy was before the end of the book and the denouement. That is my kind of mystery! I can thank my mother for introducing me to her. I love the books about Amelia Peabody Emerson and her archaeological adventures in Egypt, and I love Vicky Bliss the voluptuous and beautiful historian who wishes she was small and slightly pretty instead. I love her characters. The women are not the shy violet of wilting lily types. She describes women with faults and intelligence. She is one of my very favorites regardless of which pseudonym is on the cover of the book.
As an adult, I have continued to like the same kinds of literature. Having been forced to read the classics in high school and college, I have to say that there is some masterful writing that seems relevant to any time period, like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I did not have to read this book until college, and I was so amazed that I had missed it. I did read the work of the Bronte’s in high school, but I could not understand why they did not require Austen, instead. I can still see how people can get the wrong ideas from each other due to misunderstandings, gossip and hot tempers.
Again, it was during college that I fell in love with the intense poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. “Dirge Without Music” really spoke to me. When my best friend passed away, this was the poem that came to my mind. The phrase, “I know, but I do approve, and I am not resigned” was a perfect example of my feelings concerning the loss of a loved one. I also liked “Justice Denied in Massachusetts” which was about the trial of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco, the Italian immigrants who were anarchists, and their trial and executions, which Millay and others protested. Both men were executed by electrocution, and Millay wrote this poem in response to those events.
I will not lie and say that I do not love a good romance novel, historical, fantasy or contemporary. I have enjoyed the works of Debbie Macomber who writes really sweet stories that make me smile. I also enjoy the tempestuous stories of Johanna Lindsey, particularly the stories of the Malory family. Anne Maxwell and Catherine Coulter are also very good with characters who are intriguing, and the historical information is amazing. I did really well in college thanks to the historical romance novels that I had read. I appreciate that.
Another writer who creates wonderful stories in multiple genres is Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb. I have enjoyed her books for years. Its has been fascinating to watch her evolve as a writer. I have reread many of her books. I love the various trilogies that ranged from fairy tales, murder mysteries, love stories and the supernatural. I am constantly amazed at the amount of work she has published. I have said it before, I love good characters, and this lady is adept at creating them.
Dean Koontz is fantastic author. I loved Phantoms, but one of the best parts of the copy we had was his afterward. That is where I picked up the phrase, “kissy-lipped girly man.” My favorite of his series is the set about Odd Thomas. I loved it. It was such a new take on the world of ghost stories, and I could not help but love Odd. For once, it was me who brought this book to the family. My mom practically has a library in her house, and I seldom have to visit the public ones or buy any books. I was glad to loan her a book, rather than the other way.
One series of books that I completely look forward to reading is the Stephanie Plum series, by Janet Evanovich. I remember reading reading the first three while I was recuperating from a tonsillectomy when I was twenty-seven. My husband can be forgiven for thinking it was the pain medication, but when I reread them and still laughed until I was nearly crying, he decided to read them for himself. Well, he was hooked, We developed a chain of readers. Mom would get the new one, after she read it she would send it to me. Mike would get it next, and we would take it to my best friend. She would then return it to me, and I would take it to my grandma, aunt and cousin. There have been some changes to the order of things, but we still very much enjoy the stories, and we love to share them.
There are so many authors that I love. I like Charlaine Harris and her Sookie Stackhose novels, as well as her other works as we encounter them. I like Susan Krinard, and thanks to anthologies by some of the aforementioned authors, I have discovered even more. It would take years to discuss them all. The sad thing is that I am not exaggerating very much. However, if you are interested in good stories by good authors, I hope this information will guide you to a book or author that you will enjoy. I know I am weird, but I can sit with a book, and I am instantly transported to another world. Reading is my ideal vacation.
The above mentioned books.