A few readers have asked me in the last couple of days what I like to read. I’ve been a reader since Mom put flash cards in my hands. She never had to convince me that reading was important. It was all I wanted to do.
We lived in a very small town and the library was right across the street from my Dad’s church, so every day that I could, I was there. By fifth and sixth grade, I was caught up in Erle Stanley Gardner’s ‘Perry Mason’ series and read every single one they carried, as well as all of the other pulp fiction available. The librarian, an older lady, soon realized that she had a pair of young legs attached to a little girl who wanted nothing more than to spend time with books, so before I knew it, I was running up and down ladders, shelving books for her, learning where everything was. My mind exploded with the possibilities. There were words everywhere and I couldn’t wait to read them.
Scholastic Book Fairs and school libraries were as familiar to me as that library, which was good because when we moved the next year, the librarian in a much larger building was not quite as willing to encourage a very excited young reader. She made my mother quite furious with her attitude and scared the daylights out of me. The first time was the last time I set my foot in that building willingly. Which only meant that Mom had to find other ways to keep feeding my voracious habit. However, as thrifty as my father was, the one place he was willing to spend money was on books. My personal library began to fill.
In junior high and high school, I discovered science fiction and fantasy. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and Robot series, Frank Herbert’s Dune, Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, Alan Dean Foster, David Drake, Mercedes Lackey, Anne McCaffrey, Roger Zelazny’s Amber books, Larry Niven, Ursula K. LeGuin, Frederik Pohl, C. J. Cherryh, John Varley, Robert Silverberg, Vonda McIntyre, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Poul Anderson, Andre Norton, Gordon R. Dickson, Piers Anthony, Barbara Hambley, Robert Heinlein, Orson Scott Card, John Varley, Joan D. Vinge. Every single one of those authors and more are worth your time.
During this time I also really got into WWII spy novels. Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth, Helen MacInnes, Ken Follett and of course Ian Fleming. I love Rex Stout – Nero Wolfe and Agatha Christie And because I liked big books, Leon Uris became a favorite. I never did get into Michener. He was just too rambling for me.
I spent an inordinate amount of time and money in bookstores once I was on my own. I used to get annoyed when I wanted to read a series and only found part of it in stock. I just put the whole thing back and walked away, knowing that I’d have most of it consumed before the rest came in. And that would just annoy me. Amazon was a godsend. I could order every single book in a series and have it all show up at once.
And then, the Kindle? Holy smokes, I was in heaven. Books arrived like magic. I never had to be without reading material.
Once I got my Kindle, I discovered paranormal fantasy. Well, good night ladies, that is some seriously fun stuff! And you know what? I’m annoyed by those who thrash and trash authors because they might not be the type of books that are read in hallowed halls. I loved the Twilight series. It didn’t change my life, but it was sure fun to read. I have read so many of these authors: J. R. Ward, Sherilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jeanine Frost, Diana Rowland, Karen Marie Moning, Keri Arthur, Kim Harrison, Karen Chance, Lynsay Sands, Charlaine Harris, Carrie Vaughn, Lara Adrian, Devon Monk, Ilona Andrews, Jennifer Estep, Richelle Mead, Kresley Cole, Nalini Singh, Terri Reid. Some are awesome, some are okay, some are just pure fun.
Young Adult novels are amazing reads for me. I was one who waited with bated breath for the next Harry Potter book, then read through it as fast as I could so I could pass it to my sister. Angie Sage -Septimus Heap series, Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl, D. J. MacHale – Pendragon, Jeanne Duprau – Ember, Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini, Scott Westerfield, Cassandra Clare, Suzanne Collins.
I still love long series. J. D. Robb – In Death, Janet Evanovich – Stephanie Plum (seriously … wet my pants laughing), Faye Kellerman – Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, James Patterson, John Sandford, Jeffrey Deaver. I love Jim Butcher’s Dresden series, Patricia Briggs – she has several series other than Mercy Thompson and they’re all really good. Robin Hobbs, Lisa Shearin, Ann Aguirre, Sue Grafton, Brandon Sanderson, Bob Mayer. A reader here just turned me on to Tamora Pierce. Alex Kava is an Omaha author and a favorite. If you like sci fi -Nathan Lowell’s Trader Tales is good. Estelle Ryan’s Genevieve Lenard is a great indie series and Shelley Adina’s Lady of Devices is a great steampunk series. Liz Long’s Donovan Circus is another good indie series – she’s just getting started with it.
These lists are by no means comprehensive. As soon as I started thinking through them and finished typing a paragraph, three more names would come to me and then three more after that. There are massive holes, but search Google with some of these names and see what you might enjoy.
You’ll notice that I don’t have a lot in this list that is just general or true-life fiction. It’s not my thing. I love great mysteries – things that cause me to work through a puzzle. Fantasy / sci fi have been passions of mine for decades – where I can get lost in worlds that only exist in my mind.
As I think about these book lists, I realize there are so many I want to re-read. I read Dune and Asimov’s Foundation last month. Those books are still amazing. I need to tear through the rest of the Dune series so I can catch up to the new stuff being written by Herbert’s son, Brian, and Kevin Anderson. Oh … and oh my, all of the Star Wars novels that have been written! I love ’em. Wow … why am I writing this post when I could be reading instead. Or writing my own book. Back to work, Diane.