Here is my big fat opinion: writers write because they love to read. They write the books they want to read because they haven't found them yet on the library or bookstore shelf. As a writer and someone who is absolutely in love with books, I find this whole new e-book phenomenon repulsive, an abomination. As much as I love trees and want the planet, myself, my children and grandchildren to breath for a good long while, I love the feel of a book in my hands, the scent of paper and ink, the feel and sound of the flip of the pages, the finality, the permanence, the thing of it, what makes a book a book, the words on the page, the pages themselves.
Mine is a love that knows no bounds. I will read anything, though I am partial to fiction, poetry, children's literature, biographies, autobiographies and plays. I used to read the signs on the subway trains and busses of the Boston T. I read road signs, months old magazines in waiting rooms, even if they're about fly fishing. I read cereal boxes, all six sides. If words in print lay within eysight, I read them.
The above does much to explain why I am currently reading the top three books on the side bar reading list. Go ahead, take a look. Here they are again:
Alison Weir, The Life of Elizabeth I
Norton Juster/Jules Feiffer, The Phantom Tollbooth
re-reading:John Elder Robison, Look Me In The Eye
Weir's book has been on my bedside table since early in my bedrest pregnancy of C who is edging onto seventeen months old now. Somehow, I abandoned it, without really abandoning it entirely. We've even rearranged the room several times as well as emptied it out to be painted and rearranged it again, including switching out furniture, but through it all, Weir's book remained firmly by my lamp, even when I bought a new one. I've always been fascinated by the original Queen Elizabeth's story. Heck, it's juicy even before she was born! I do like the way Weir tells the story, but sometimes I'd like a little more on some areas where it feels like a British presumption. I've been involved in history classes at many grade levels here in America, covering the time period, but sometimes I still feel like I need a little more background on the nobility - who they are and what part they play in the story, their motivations, etc. Also, sometimes she dates things without the year as she goes long into chapters of telling, and I forget, are we still in 1559? February what? When did she meet Dudley? How long has this issue of who to marry or not marry at all been going on now? Admittedly, some may be the two year gap on my part, but a little reminding clarifying details thrown in here and there can be very helpful.
I love Jules Feiffer's illustrations. I've admired him since childhood, in comics as an adult, and his I Lost My Bear! is a fabulous picture book. His simple line drawings in Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth are spot on. His map is great for referencing the imaginary world where it seems all is wordplay come to life. S and I are reading it aloud together. S prefers factual reading or comics and he has a hard time with inferences, so the fact that there are such easy telling pictures really works for him to understand a lot of what otherwise goes over his head if I don't stop, repeat, and laugh again, explaining why it's so funny. He particularly loves the very short Officer Shrift. We've just past the chapter, Discord and Dynne, and to have an illustration of 'that awful din' lit S up. We're still following Milo in his search and rescue of Rhyme and Reason. I've read the book previously, but it's been a while, and I am thoroughly enjoying it besides how much fun it is to make S laugh outloud with it. Of course, it helps that Juster seems to have as much a love for words and their playful side as I do. Even my son K, when he read it was laughing out loud.
John Elder Robison's book, Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger's is much more than a book about having Asperger's Syndrome. It is one man's journey through life in this world, where it is difficult for anyone to find their way. He is an astounding storyteller, which is all the more remarkable when you consider the usual view of people with Asperger's is that they are emotionally void and unable to relate to others. The life he has led is vastly entertaining and traumatic and sad and beautiful and joyous and full of hope and ultimately full of faith in people and in himself. You feel by the end that his journey goes beyond Odysseus' of Homer's epic, The Odyssey. And he designed the cool guitar effects and more of the original showmen of Rock and Roll, KISS. I first read Robison's book about two years ago, having no idea about it except that he was the author of Running with Scissors Augusten Borroughs' brother. It blew my mind and gave me hope for my son. I am not recommending this book solely because I am a mother of an Aspergian, I am recommending it because it is damn good. It has been translated into dozens of languages and sold in as many countries as a long time NY Times Bestseller. This goes way beyond an inside look into Asperger's. This is an excellent memoir in it's own right. Go buy it now.