For those readers expanding beyond reading novels, biographies and historical fiction are hits among our readers. It’s useful to read outside the genre that you normally read so that you can broaden your experience.
Hearty thanks to the readers who wrote in!!! Here are some of their replies to questions about biographies and historical fiction:
“I also LOVE historical fiction. When The Tudors series first came on TV, I became fascinated with that period of English history and began reading all of Philippa Gregory’s novels about Henry XIII, his reign, his wives, his heirs and the entire Tudor and Elizabethan periods.”
“Her books, on which the series was based, are steamy page turners (some are better than others) but to your point, I learned so much about the history that I was able to justify reading and enjoying them. They transported me to another time and were great escape fiction. Some of the titles are (if I can remember): The Constant Princess (about Katherine of Aragon) The Virgin’s Lover, The Queen’s Fool, and The Bolyen Inheritance.”
“I also read a great many biographies when I was younger. You’re the first person besides me I have heard say that! I read just about everyone I got my hands on, so the list is long and actually a lot were autobiographies. Isak Dinesen, David Niven & Hildegard Neff come to mind.”
“One of the best things I learned from this reading is to persist. Over and over you see the pattern that people who become famous (perhaps mostly in the arts which was what I read about) succeed because they ‘would not take no for an answer,’ because they did ‘not know how to do anything else,’ and because they ‘ignored all the people who told them to give up on their dreams.’ Well, I think these things work, personally.”
Please share your favorite biographies and books about history with the group. What have you learned from this kind of reading outside of business and self-improvement reading?
Some of my clients have felt guilty when reading fiction for pleasure. They have felt that they “should” be reading business books or learning how to use a new computer application. Many clients choose to read biographies of people whom they admire as a kind of mid-point between pleasure reading and reading business books.
“Pleasure” is the operative word. What do you enjoy? As a child and teenager, I read every biography I could put my hands on. The stories were amazing, and the experience was definitely pleasurable.
Choose fields of interest and then research biographies of prominent people in those fields. Classic biographies of Abraham Lincoln, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway, and Alexander the Great are among those which made a big impression on me in the past.
Historical fiction is another way to read for pleasure, but also learn. The most recent winner of The Booker Prize is Hilary Mantel whose book, “Wolf Hall,” has received rave reviews and is being celebrated for its deeply researched and historically accurate depiction of life in Tudor England.
Please share your favorite biographies and historical fiction with our group and read!
PS: Another great fiction recommendation from a different reader in Florida:
“The Monuments Men…Robert Edsel……recovering the art treasures ,stolen by the Nazis during WW2….fascinating.”
We’ve had many GREAT recommendations for books, and I want to share some of them with you. Thanks, everyone, and please keep on sending books that you read for pleasure so that we can share them with others.
Next week, we’ll get back to more business and philosophy-related topics. For now, I’m looking forward to getting all of these books that I haven’t yet read and making friends with them.
From a reader in Florida:
My favorite book right now is “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.” Wonderful book about a mute boy and his dogs. It is told from several points of view including Almondine, his personal pet that he grows up with. Wonderful story, incredibly evocative writing and a great read for a dog lover! Also love “Peace Like a River.”
From a reader in Northern California:
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Covenant by James Michner
Hawaii by James Michner
Secrets of the Talking Jaguar by Martin Prectel
The Legacy of Luna by Julia Butterfly Hill
The Holy Man by Susan Trott
Of Water and Spirit by Maladamo Petrice Some
The Bridge Between Worlds by Linda Baker
Collision With the Infinite by Suzanne Segal
From a reader from California’s Central Coast:
“The Historian” from a few years ago was great – by Elizabeth Kostova
“Molokai” by Alan Brennert was a very good read.
I am currently reading (slowly) James D. Houston’s “Bird from Another Heaven,” also about Hawaii.
From a reader in Massachusetts:
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” had a tremendous impact on me. I even read this novel out loud to my husband. Naturally, the novels of Garcia Marquez…. “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” “The English Patient.”
I remarked recently that I needed a new novel so that I could spend 15-30 minutes a day with it for a couple of weeks and “make a new friend.” There have been a number of authors / books like that over the years. Almost all of Pat Conroy’s novels. Tom Wolfe and John Irving.
Who are your friends? Don’t be shy. Literature / fiction is increasingly difficult with which to make acquaintance. Tell us by sending me an email describing your new and wonderful relationships.
Among the suggestions with which I most resonate are: The Life Of Pi . . . and Kite Runner . . . and The Archivist which, according to a fellow SH alumnus, “If you are the sort of person who always dwells in or longs for a New York City state of mind, then you’ll love this multi-layered inter-personal and intra-personal journey through Manhattan that covers over three decades of the characters’ lives.”
Life imitates art, and art imitates life. Do you have any new friends who are “novels” who can keep you entertained for the next few weeks? Please share!!
I recently read an article which discussed how much we, as a populace, are reading and writing in email, blogs and other online activities. That kind of reading and writing is a far cry from what our English and Literature teachers and professors taught us was exemplary.
Juxtapose that for a moment against the likelihood that, because we are reading so much online, that we are reading less for the sheer joy and pleasure of reading. I just completed a novel called The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein which is narrated by a dog and tells a very sweet story about his love for his human family. It’s so touching that I keep remembering it and reliving the experience as if I actually know the characters.
Pleasure reading moves us into relationship with interesting people, animals, geographies and situations. And, lest I sound like one of the librarians from when we grew up, reading for the joy of it is a very enriching and pleaurable experience.
Many of you are big readers, so please send in some recommendations so that I can share your picks with others. What are some books that you’ve read recently for pleasure that you’d recommend? What are some works of fiction that you’d like to read that you’ve been intending to read for a while?