Thursday, 22 October 2009

Books 'n' Stuff

In one of yesterday's comments Bearfriend asked me about my reading material and it appealed to me as a topic for a new post that has very little to do with food or weight!
However, if you're expecting to find something deeply profound here you might want to skip this one - I read for entertainment most of the time, and for escape from a fairly boring real life, so I'm not really into anything too heavy - though every now and then I get into a totally non-fiction mood, most of the time fiction owns me heart and soul!
I mentioned one of my favourite authors in a comment I posted on Bearfriends blog . She's an Irish author and journalist called Marian Keyes. Her first really successful novel (and the one I discovered her from) was called Rachel's Holiday, and its about a drug addict in rehab following an accidental drug overdose. Marian herself is a recovered (maybe that should be recovering? I'm not sure if you're ever really considered to be recovered) alcoholic who spent time in rehab, so she does understand what addiction and rehab are about. It sounds depressing, but its handled with an amazingly delicacy of touch that might make you cry, but also laugh. Others of her novels have dealt with depression, fear of losing someone close, betrayal by a loved one... but she writes for entertainment, not to educate or traumatise her readers and I've read her books over and over again, though Rachel's Holiday is my favourite. She is often dismissed as a writer of Chick's Lit, but if you pay any attention at all there's a bit more depth to her books than most in the genre.
Aside from her, I mostly read crime fiction, some supernatural / science fiction, and sometimes historical fiction; also autobiographies and I admit books about dieting and weight loss (bet you didn't guess that!)
I love Barbara Michaels for her romantic suspense thrillers (she seems to have stopped writing new ones at the moment but has a big list of past titles) and Elizabeth Peters - Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters are the same woman, an Egyptologist called Barabara Mertz. As Elizabeth Peters she writes a lot of books set in a context of Egyptology, Art & Art History, and Novel writing. They're funny, they offer palatable snippets of fact without you realising that you're learning about the subject, and she has some excellent heroines. My favourites are the Amelia Peabody series, about a Victorian family of Egyptologists, deliberately written in a slightly florid, Victorian style to reflect the fact that they are pretending to be based on the diaries of Amelia herself.
I also love the Marcus Didius Falco series of crime novels set in Imperial Rome by Lindsey Davis, a British writer I actually discovered while working out in Dallas. Again they are funny, set in a detailed and convincing historical context, and therefore allow the reader to pick up scraps of information without ploughing through a textbook. In my case, they have inspired me to read text books about the Roman Empire despite finding the whole historical period really tedious when I studied it at school (I know the road systems were important to the country, but when you've heard it once you've heard it, already! Now tell me about the scurrilous graffiti attacking corrupt politicians on the pillars at the Forum!)
My current obsession is the novels of Nora Roberts / JD Robb. The books you've been seeing in my recent photographs are by JD Robb. The description I'm about to type might put you off - I started reading Nora Roberts first, and didn't touch her JD Robb oeuvre for a while, but now I'm hooked - JD Robb writes crime fiction set in the New York of the future, in a world where the 'Urban Wars' of the 21st Century have changed the face of cities and some crimes, but people are still people. Some of her books about Homicide cop Eve Dallas investigate murders that could happen now, with casual contextual commentary about technology and laws that we don't yet have to place them in the future, while others are based in that technology and offer disturbing suggestions of how current developments could be misused in the future. As both her key characters were abused as children, and are still suffering from the memories, and of course the murders are often gory or brutal, they have a darker side offset by a great relationship between Eve, her husband Roarke (the sexiest man in fiction IMO) and the other people in their lives. She also writes excellent fiction as Nora Roberts, but I love the way that characters and relationships develop when they are used as the centre for a whole series of books, so the Dallas books hold the closer place in my heart. Whether she writes as Nora Roberts or JD Robb, she also writes some pretty intense sex scenes - my mum reads these novels too, and we've long since agreed you don't want to read those scenes on buses or in hospital waiting rooms! Embarrassed Emoticons. At the moment I'm working my way through the series as I recently borrowed some new ones from the library, and one of my more anally retentive traits is that I like to reread the full series so they're fresher in my mind when a new one comes along!
Oh yes, and of course I've read and loved the first 3 Twilight books (on my ebook reader, which is great by the way) and the Kelley Armstrong books set in a world of vampires, werewolves, necromancers and all things spooky. I haven't read the Sookie Stackhouse ones yet but after seeing series 1 of Trueblood I will be doing so shortly.
And my favourite classics: Pride & Prejudice, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, Dracula...
This has turned into a massively long post that a lot of people might not find very interesting so I'll quit now and maybe wrote another post about my non-fiction reading in the future (if I'm low on inspiration for posts or if any of you managed to stay awake through this one and want to know more!)

Stay Healthy - and read a lot!



  1. Thanks for the list. I've somehow managed to stop reading for the pure pleasure of it. Need to get started again.

    When did you work in Dallas? How long were you here? What did you think?

    Take care, Chrissie.

  2. Hi Chrissie. Brilliant post! There's so much information here and authors I haven't read. I will definitely look out for Marian Keyes. And I may just have to check out that Roarke chappie (and the rest)!

    Now I can understand why you had such a great time going round the museums in London. You obviously have a deep interest in history.

    I'm more of a classics person myself and did a couple modules of an Eng Lit degree a few years ago. Sadly they discontinued the module by module course or I'd still be doing it.

    I now have a huge motivation to get myself to the library!

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx