I normally have several books in progress at any given time—fiction, anthology, and at least one non-fiction audiobook that I listen to while driving or doing handwork. There are only a few authors whose works I read and re-read, and some of those have had quite an influence on my life.
If you've been here before, you may have noticed that this page got a lot shorter. Some of the items had gotten pretty dated, so I removed them. While I'm still reading voraciously, I keep track of what I'm reading over at GoodReads, occasionally reviewing books here on my blog.
Also, because the science fiction and fantasy books and authors were taking over the page, I've given them to their own place.
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant isn't a book I would normally have picked up. I trust Catherine, though, and she recommended it, so I read it. In fact, after I started reading, I couldn't stop. It's a fictional account of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob (of Old Testament fame). It's told by her, and it's absolutely fascinating.
After reading the first book of the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton out of sheer boredom, I had to go out and get every other volume, and devoured them in no time at all. I want more. Right now. I don't even like horror in general, but I'd have to say that these books are more dark fantasy than horror, and they're always spiced with plenty of humor. (Later note: Obsidian Butterfly was the last book of the series that really focused on plot more than sex, so those who don't want to read about Anita's increasing collection of lovers should stop with this volume.)
I am waiting, very impatiently, for Lynne Murray to get her next book out so I can read more about Jo Fuller, heroine of Larger Than Death and Large Target. While I have been practicing size acceptance for several years now, Jo Fuller is the first fictional character I've encountered who does the same, and the dialogue between the Jo and those pushing diets at her really rang true for me.
I encountered Monica Ferris in the rec.crafts.textiles.needlwork newsgroup, and then found her very readable mysteries that are set in a needlework shop, Crewel World, owned by Betsy Devonshire. The first book is also called Crewel World and has a counted cross-stitch pattern related to the plot printed in the back of the book. Framed in Lace has a second cross-stitch pattern in it. There's a needlepoint pattern included in A Stitch in Time. I have no idea what she'll put in Raveled Sleeve, book four - but I look forward to reading the book and seeing the pattern! I met Ms. Ferris this past spring when Sampler Cottage in Marietta hosted a book signing, and she's every bit as delightful as her detective.
Magdalene la Bâtarde, heroine of Roberta Gellis' novel A Mortal Bane, is in some ways far removed from Betsy Devonshire - she runs what is referred to by one character as "the most expensive brothel in London." The business is registered on the tax rolls of medieval England as a house of fine needleworkers - and they do, in fact, design, stitch and sell various pieces when they aren't otherwise occupied. I found the novel fascinating, and it certainly seemed true to the period (although I'm certainly not an expert). The characters were well-drawn and sympathetic, as well. I hope to read more about Magdalene la Bâtarde and her ladies in the future.
Bad Blood is the latest of Dana Stabenow's Kate Shugak series. It was a good as I've come to expect from her, but didn't hit me as hard as an earlier volume, Hunter's Moon, did (if you've read the other books in the series, I'll warn you - Hunter's Moon one will tear you up). I cried, and that just doesn't happen often—I can't remember any other book of fiction that's provoked tears from me. I'm enjoying the Liam Campbell series as well (latest is Better to Rest), but I relate to Shugak more than Campbell.
I Still Miss My Man, But My Aim Is Getting Better, Sarah Shankman (yes, it is the title of a country song, in the book, at least!). While I've enjoyed Shankman's Samantha Adams series, I didn't love them like I do Shelby Kay Tate's story. I want to hear more about Shelby, but since this book came out several years back I'm starting to think I'll be disappointed.
Madeleine L'Engle was one of my heras. I love every one of her books, fiction, poetry and prose. She was simply an incredible lady.
I used to have most of C.S. Lewis' books, and re-read them every few years. I've heard an audio version of The Screwtape Letters recorded by John Cleese that is absolutely side-splitting, but I don't own a copy (yet). The Great Divorce is the only book I've ever read that presented any theories about hell that I could reconcile with the concept of a loving deity.
Leslea Newman is a joy, but it's often hard to find her books. Her volume of poetry, Love Me Like You Mean It, is one I nearly wore out before it disappeared. I wish I could find a hardcover edition, but I would settle for getting it in paperback again. Most people know her as the author of Heather Has Two Mommies, and she has published quite a few children's books--in fact, Belinda's Bouquet was one of Katie's favorites when she was younger. Fat Chance is an excellent book for teens.