- Books, Literature, and Writing
What Is On My Bookshelf
I'm a Book Junkee
I love books, there's no getting around that. I'll read just about everything I can get my hands on, from cliché romances to instruction guides. I've even been known to read the cereal box when I can't have a book at the table.
Since I love books so much, I decided to share some of my favorites with everyone, since one of my other favorite things is sharing the joy of books with others :-)
Books by Richard Bach
I've loved Richard Bach's style ever since I was a little girl and first picked up Jonathon Livingston Seagull. He has such a unique style, and every one of his books is thought-provoking, intriguing, and makes you want to fly.
Jonathon Livingston Seagull - By Richard Bach
Everyone should read JLS at some point. It's a quick and easy read, I think I first picked up when I was about 8, but the story never gets old. The questions it asks, the stories it tells, the beauty it shares, all combine to inspire you not to be one of the seagulls that only care about greed, but to rise above the day to day and go for whatever you dream. Don't be content to wallow, you can fly if you only try.
Jonathon Flying High
Rock and Mineral Guide
I admit it, I'm addicted to field guides, and rocks & minerals especially.
This is the field guide I usually carry around with me. It's a bit thick and heavy for that, though it is a medium-sized paperback, but it really seems the easiest to use and most reliable. You are not supposed to identify minerals by just looks, but I have to say doing so is a habit of mine, and this book has such realistic pictures, that I can often get an idea of what mineral I am looking at just from the pictures, and then the descriptions are so easy to use, that once I have a few minerals my specimen might be, I can easily make sure by checking them.
Rock and Mineral Guide
Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California
Being into geology means that I'm often exposed to fossils, and I've definitely developed a passion for them, especially the dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs and Other Mesozoic Reptiles of California was actually written by one of my teachers at Sierra College, but that is not the only reason I like it. I like it because it is great for the casual reader as well as the advanced scientist.
This book uses science to show prehistoric California, maps out where we've discovered fossils of animals from the time of the dinosaurs, and even tells about the heroes that discovered all these bits and pieces of our world. Just a warning, there haven't been very many dinosaur fossils found in California since most of it was underwater at the time, but there have been many other dinosaur-age fossils found, so don't go into the book looking just for dinosaurs :-) Plesiosaurs and giant sea turtles are really fascinating too!
The Technicolor Time Machine
Though not one of my obsessive subjects, time travel has always fascinated me. The whos, the wheres, the what-ifs, all make my mind ponder the possibilities. Not too unexpected, most of my favorite time travel books, deal with going back to prehistoric times, and combining paleontology and time travel, though truly, almost all time travel stories fascinate me.
Imagine if earlier Hollywood producers were the ones who were first able to travel through time. Though it may not be our first choice, their first choice to use the power of traveling through time, might just be what happens in this book, getting a hit movie made as quickly as possible, and under-budget. This older book may be short, but it is sweet, silly, and hilarious!
The Technicolor Time Machine
This book takes an interesting take on the time travel thing, what if it isn't us that come up with time travel, yet we get a hold of a time machine, and one that is only set for one point in time? Just maybe, we would make an exclusive retreat package, for the insanely wealthy.
Taking trips into space has nothing on traveling 65-million years into the past for peace and quiet and hunting dinosaurs.
But the question ever remains, where did the time machine come from, and when are they going to want it back?
Books by Stephen King
I know this is going to sound odd, he is known as the King of horror, but I don't find Stephen King's books all that scary. There have been a few exceptions, but for the most part, they just fascinate me.
He almost feels more like a spooky, fantasy writer than anything else, though I think it may just be those are his books that I like the best. He excels at the psychological thriller. I love how he gets into the mind of someone who is undergoing trauma or terror, and writes it in a way that makes it clear without losing any of that important, chaotic feel.
I watch Stephen King movies to laugh, and read Stephen King novels to relax.
Buy Rose Madder Now
If you or anyone you have ever known has been in an abusive relationship, you may want to read this book.
The main character is regularly beaten by her husband throughout their entire marriage, until finally something snaps inside of her and she just leaves.
Nowhere to go, no one to turn to, she manages to create a new life, but her husband is a cop and excels in the hunt for whomever he is seeking, and he is coming after Rose.
The ending is odd and surprising.
Get Gerald's Game
Imagine a woman and a man in a cottage in the middle of nowhere, playing bedroom games.
She is handcuffed to the bed, and then he dies. What would you do?
Though almost the entire story is set in one room, this book is psychologically fascinating. It's about an R rating though, it isn't really about sex, but it of course deals with it.
California, Santa Anas, and Fire Books
If you've lived in California for very long, you may have realized that though most people in other parts of the country fear earthquakes when California is mentioned, most Californians fear fire. That is because California was designed to burn.
Many native Californian plant have to have fire to reproduce and though estimates vary, most ecologists agree that fire would naturally have run through the state every few years. Since human introduction though, things have changed. Native Americans set wildfires on purpose to encourage the growth of plants they liked best and also produce more meadows. When the Europeans arrived, the fires were damaging to their homes, so they started a no-burn policy that has lasted up until recently. This has produced in some cases, a hundred years of vegetation buildup, that is simply waiting for a match.
Add to the tinderbox that is California, other natural aspects that make fighting fire more difficult and in some cases, practically impossible. Lack of water, California gets almost all of its rainfall in a few short months, and is dry the rest of the year. Steep terrain, there are areas that can be nearly vertical in the steep river valleys. The Santa Anas are perhaps the worst aspect of nature that affects fire fighting though.
Whether called Santa Anas, Santanas, Devil Winds, or any of the numerous other names they're called, the Santa Anas are dangerous winds during fire season. They are incredibly hot and dry and can blow with incredible power, and it they're blowing and there is a California wildfire, everyone better watch out.
Raymond Chandler talks about it in his story "Red Wind" (another name for the winds):
"It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch... On nights like that, every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen."
As you can see, California, wildfires, and Santa Anas can together be a recipe for disaster - and many interesting stories.
Trouble is My Business
Contains the Red Wind story that the above quotation is taken from. Raymond Chandler is one of the pioneers of what we think of when we think of detectives. He was extremely innovative for his time, and it's interesting seeing the origins of so many detective aspects that seem to be in every book now.
The Underground Man
This book is like taking a time machine to early Los Angeles.
Quote from the book: "Unless the Santa Ana stopped blowing ... Rattlesnake [a fire] might strike across the city all the way to the sea."
Ross Macdonald has wonderful phrasing. His storylines are interesting, and this book captures exactly the way I feel about fires and Santa Anas, and I'm a SoCal native, but what sticks in the mind is how he puts things in such an elegant and interesting way.
The Underground Man
Slouching Toward Bethlehem
Joan Didion is one of the best writers about California and this book filled with her essays is fabulous.
In her essay The Santa Ana:
"It's hard for people who have not lived in Los Angeles to realize how radically the Santa Ana figures in the local imagination. The city burning is Los Angeles's deepest image of itself,"
"Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and just as the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana effect the entire quality of life in Los Angeles"
During Santa Ana conditions, fires can be sparked by lightning or by people through arson, machinery running near dry brush, campfires or carelessly tossed cigarettes. This near constant fear and the incessant wind blowing that you know will stir up every spark and turn it into a massive firestorm lead to a shiver down your back every time the winds start.
Everyone who wants to understand the state of California and the people of the state should read her works.
The Illuminated Landscape
The Sierra Nevada is an amazing mountain range. It is very beautiful, has incredible plants and wildlife, and some of the most impressive geology in the world. People from all of the world come to climb into it and admire its beauty. Lucky for me, I live fairly close by and get to wander around up there whenever I have free time.
As I attended the class this book is based upon, I had to get it when I heard it was being released. It was even better than I had hoped, and I still can't believe how many fabulous stories of the Sierra Nevada that exist.
The Illuminated Landscape
The Sierra Nevada Illuminated
The Laws Field Guide to the Sierra Nevada
This book is the best field guide to the Sierra Nevada for the novice. It contains sections on birds, as well as sections on flowers, common mammals, and other information, all arranged by color and similarity!
Jack has designed his book to be so easy that a kid could use, he even took some kids and novice naturalists out on trips with him into the Sierra so that he could make sure that it was easy for them to use and fix anything they found difficult. Even though he got rid of anything that wasn't important and as much blank space as possible, it is a bit heavy if you'd normally only take one book with you on your trips, but since this takes the place of three or four books, it's not bad at all and it really is a great resource.
The Best Sierra Nevada Field Guide
The Dresden Files
Jim Butcher's series, The Dresden Files, is about a wizard who fights evil vampires, wizards, and all sorts of other strange creatures. He's a reluctant hero, and all he wants to do is live his life in peace, but he can't stand to let his town get destroyed.
In Changes, Dresden's life completely changes around and you won't know who will survive until the end.
The Dragon de la Sangre Series
This is not one of the generic, anthropomorphic dragon series. This is probably the first book series that I have ever found that consistently portrays a non-human character as having an non-human personality. Yes, some books manage to capture that alien personality occasionally, but this is the fist that I have seen that throughout each and every book, the writer has managed to write the character as though he truly is not human. The main dragon character is so well-created and non-stereotypical that if I didn't know better, I would think he did write the books.
That makes these books not as popular as they could be, people say they want original and different, but truly, they don't. Different scares them, and if a book makes them uncomfortable, they aren't going to like it. If you don't mind not knowing what a character is going to do every step of the story, you may just like this series too.
The Dragon de la Sangre Series - By Alan F. Troop
The first book in the series features a young male dragon that lives alone with his old father since his mother died. They seem to be rich eccentrics that choose to live on a private island off of Miami, but that is only their human guise. Then the young dragon must find a mate.
The Pern Series
The world of Pern is such a wonderfully familiar standby. It is so reassuring to reenter the land where dragons and man coexist, and protect the planet. Though it may not often be incredibly exciting, there are parts that are, but to me the Pern stories are comfortable old friends. The Pern world was created by Anne McCaffrey many years ago and since she's getting older she has decided it's time to pass on the torch. She co-athored a few books with her son, Todd, and now Todd is writing the new Pern novels. While Anne McCaffrey wrote more about the characters, Todd McCaffrey writes more about action and doing stuff, so the novels are different, but are good in their own way.
The Harper Hall Trilogy: Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums
The Harper Hall trilogy all in one book. These are my favorite books of Pern. The first two, Dragonsong and Dragonsinger, are about Menolly, a young girl with a talent for music but who is prevented from singing and playing, and most of all song writing, at every turn. Dragondrums is the tale of her cohort, Piemur, a rascal of a lad who though very likable, always seems to be in trouble. The Harper Hall trilogy was written expressively for young adults, but it is wonderful for all ages.
The Meredith Gentry Series
Like dark fantasy? Like ultra-sexy dark fantasy? This series may interest you. It's about a faerie born of both the dark court and the light or golden, who is related to both the queen of the dark and the king of the light. She is not evil or light though, and has human blood as well, so fits in at none of the courts, nor in the human world. Just a warning, some of the books in the middle of the series diverge into what is pretty much pornography, though after that the books get a little more storyline back, but in no way are any of the books G-rated, and most are probably X.
A Kiss of Shadows
The first book in The Merry Gentry series.