Susan Sarah here — it’s lazy, hot, humid summertime, vacation and beach time for many, and Romance Writers of America conference time for some (including a few of the Wenches). I am packing a suitcase, too, with a bag of books sitting beside it as I prepare to go away for a few days.
Which got me to wondering what you all are reading. If you have a minute, please pick up the nearest book or two that you’re currently reading, and share a little of the last page you read. I’ll go first…
I’m trying something a bit different this week, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated medieval historical novel called Godric by Frederick Buechner. Written in 1980, it’s the story of Godric of Finchale (pronounced "Finkle,") a 12th century English monk and hermit, famous in his day for healing and miracles, and more or less unknown to us today … (unless you happen to be mucking about in early medieval British history as I’ve been doing lately). Here’s Buechner, and Godric describing his younger brother, William:
Page 13 …
Words came spilling out of him before he knew their meaning, and if there was none to listen, he’d talk to his own ten toes. He didn’t care a fig for what he talked about. One matter would serve him as well as another. He’d prattle of Normans or crops or weather till the spittle gathered at the corners of his mouth, and if you made a move to flee, there’d come to his eyes a haunted look, and he’d prattle all the faster so you’d find no chink to flee him through. Words were the line that moored himto the world, I think, and he thought if ever the line should break, he’d be forever cast adrift.
I’m also reading Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn (there’s always more than one book in play — fiction, nonfiction, whatever I’m writing, the back of a cereal box, the nearest catalog, bring it on!). This one’s been in my TBR pile for a while, and I finally got to it, and I’m very glad I did. Lady Julia Grey takes it upon herself to investigate the murder of her husband … I’m really enjoying the clean, excellent writing, characters both appealing and intriguing, and a story that’s clever and complex….
Page 62 …
In fact, the more I studied Mr. Brisbane, the more he resembled a chess king. Polished and hard, with a certain implacable dignity. He was darker than any man I knew, with storm-black eyes and a head of thick, waving hair to match that would have made Byron prickle with jealousy.
But my scrutiny did not amuse him. He arched a brow at me, imperious as an emperor. I was mightily impressed. He did it much better than Aunt Hermia….
And then there all are the research books I’m reading — Ritchie’s Normans in Scotland, Anderson’s Sources of Scottish History, Barrow’s Kingship and Unity — while I’m working on another hardcover novel for Crown about the 11th century queen, Margaret of Scotland, Malcolm Canmore’s Anglo-Saxon bride. She followed Lady Macbeth on the throne of Scotland; I’ve brought the former queen into her story, and I’m having a great time playing around with that!
Meanwhile, I still have some luxury time to read other writers … later I’ll read only my own work, and after a while, even the concise and shining prose on the back of the cereal box will seem like better stuff than I’ve got. For now, the deadline seems too far in the distance to worry my purty little head about…
I’m a bit time-dyslexic, with an overly optimistic comprehension of the Work Load vs. Time Available factors. In a few weeks that will bite me on the arse, and I’ll realize I’ve played around long enough. Queen Margaret will want her story finished (my editor will too), and I’ll get down to the sober biz of Serious Writing and Deadline Crunching. Then I’ll stop reading other people’s stuff for a while… but for now, I’m enjoying my summertime reading.
How about you all? What are you reading today? I’d love some new recommendations before I have to retreat into my author cave once again….