And Another Thing: Midsummer book talk

By: Susan Rushton
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I haven’t written about books since April. Three months! No wonder I’ve felt so itchy and out of sorts. Time to talk about writing and authors and good stories, and the wise people who love and respect them.

The number of books that exist never ceases to amaze me. All these choices! All this creativity! All this energy involved in creating these stories, writing them, rewriting, publishing, selling ... people keep doing it, and people keep picking up books out of curiosity. 

People want a story, and they want to know what happens next.

I just finished listening to a memoir, “Chosen by a Horse,” by Susan Richards. I shouldn’t have listened to it while driving, but I couldn’t help it. I got weepy and angry by turns – weepy because (this isn’t really a spoiler) she has to eventually put her horse down, and she loves her horse.

But I got angry because she meets this man and starts to date him.

This guy says he’s divorced but isn’t. But worse than that: He thinks writers and writing, books and readers are stupid. There’s no point to any of that garbage, he tells her. Waste of time, he says –and expects to keep dating her.

Ahem. Here’s the door, mister.

She waits a tad longer than I would.

A woman who goes to the same gym I do recommends Christopher Moore’s books – he’s written “Fluke,” which she loved, and “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.”

“At this age,” she says (she’s in her late 60s), “we like to laugh.”

But her favorite is decades old: “Without Armor,” by James Hilton, who wrote “Lost Horizon” and “Random Harvest.” First published in 1933, this one focuses on an Englishman who served as a British spy and was exiled to Siberia for eight years.

Tom Wolfe, at the library in Auburn, says he’s having an interesting time with Jonathan Lethem’s new book, “Chronic City.” “It’s funny and strange,” he said. “It presents a slightly altered version of our reality.”

He recommended Lethem’s “Amnesia Moon,” about a young man living in a movie theater in post-apocalyptic Wyoming.

I approached Lisa Bailey, who has just started “One Second After,” an eerie tale of what would happen if a weapon is developed that destroys all silicon chips. How would our lives change?

“I heard about it on talk radio,” Lisa said. She’s also heard a rumor that someone is actually working to create something like this. “Scary,” she said.

Her co-worker Erika Holm recommends two books: “Into the Forest,” by Jan Hegland, about two sisters living alone in Northern California as society is collapsing. And Oprah’s newest recommendation, Wild,” by Cheryl Strayed.

“It’s really good,” Erika said. She says she doesn’t usually like Oprah’s selections, and wouldn’t have chosen this one to read solely on that recommendation. However, “I’d reserved it before I learned it was on her list. It’s really good.”

And my husband, Don, is in the middle of “Moneyball,” about bean counters and the Oakland As and how to create a spectacular baseball team with little money. It’s well written and he’s having a very nice time.

What are you reading and loving this summer?  

Email me and let me share your delight with the world. Or at least Auburn.

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