~ Reading Bliss ~

Cover of "Thinking About Memoir (AARP)"

Cover of Thinking About Memoir (AARP)

Some days this bliss journey gets a little long and twisted and I am baffled as to whether I can keep it up. As anyone who reads this blog on a somewhat regular basis knows, my 2013 resolution is to find my bliss. Some days I want to pack it in; some days finding my bliss is pretty….blissful.

Cover of "Old Friend from Far Away: How t...

Cover via Amazon

Before I run out of things to say about bliss, I really must address the thing that has given me bliss since I was about six years old. The thing that has stood me in good stead all of these years, through thick and thin, through good times and bad, through…..okay you get the clichéd gist.

Quite simply, I love to read. I can depend on reading to provide bliss. Even before I could read, I was read to—so the magic of the written word has been with me all my life.

Today I am going to share with you a few of my favourite books and authors—just off the top of my head, because I am feeling lazy (so lazy I put the Sunday roast in the crock pot with potatoes cause I am too lazy to pay attention to it).

Cover of "On Writing:  A Memoir of the Cr...

Cover of On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood, Alistair McLeod, Elizabeth Berg, Natalie Goldberg, Julia Cameron, Annie Lamont, Ray Bradbury, Abigail Thomas, Stephen King, Ina Garten, Chef Michael Smith, and a whole lot of other people. I do not like everything these people have ever written, but I like a great deal of what they have written. I am  a voracious reader of non-fiction but the only name that comes to mind right now is Rabbi Harold Kushner.

My favourite book from childhood is Little Women—I loved Jo, and grew up to be a writer precisely because of her. My favourite character from my preteen years is Trixie Belden—she was smart and independent, and I read every one of her books several times.

My favourite books on memoir are by Natalie Goldberg and Abigail Thomas. I suggest that if you like this genre you should rush out and buy, or put on hold at your library, Goldberg’s “Old Friend from Far Away” and Thomas’ “Thinking About Memoir”.

If you could only read three books on writing—these are my picks: Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”; Annie Lamont’s “Bird by Bird”; and Stephen King’s “On Writing”. My fourth pick is one I am re-reading right now, Jack Hart’s “Storycraft” which is “The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction.” He has reinvigorated my newspaper writing.

Cover of "Writing down the Bones"

Cover of Writing down the Bones

So for the record, just in case this bliss thing comes to an end—I need it stated that reading is my bliss.

Off the top of your head—what are your favourite books or authors. Don’t think too hard (it is Sunday after all)—you will miss some as I most certainly have.

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  1. Awwwww reading!!!! My favourite way in the whole wide world to find absolute bliss :). I too have been addicted to reading since childhood, and I actually had Trixie Belden books too. She was awesome! While other hobbies have come and gone, my love of reading has never changed. Some of my favourite authors are: Deborah Harkness (A Discovery of Witches), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander series), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series), Ken Follett (Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, as well as his new Century trilogy), George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones series). Oh I could go on and on. I have always loved Stephen King too and have just started 11/22/63 which captured my attention right from page 1. Are you on Goodreads LouAnn. It’s great for looking up book reviews, and now TBM is part of Goodreads too and we can see what each other is reading and wanting to read. You should join if you haven’t already! Ok, I have to go now. My book is calling me……….

    • I think Goodreads is a good reading idea–I loved the Harry Potter series–in fact I read the first three aloud to my youngest son. I am going to have to read the latest King too– thanks for giving me such a good reply–you are definitely my sister in chocolate and reading

      • You should definitely try the Deborah Harkness series. She is amazing!! She is a university professor, so she writes a book about vampires and witches from an adult and very well educated point of view. I met her at an author’s conference in the Fall, and she was really great to talk to. Her series is now in my top 10 favourite books of all time! As far as Goodreads goes, if you are on it add me as a friend. My email address is loonybin@sympatico.ca.

  2. Wally Lamb, Tracy Chevalier, Donna Tart, Anne Lamont, Geraldine Brooks, Andre Dubus, etc. I also love Natalie Goldberg!
    Reading is my bliss, too, that is, when I’m not blogging. :)

    • I love Lamb too–am going to look into the others you mentioned. Yes, blogging has been added to my list of blisses.

  3. Favorite authors who bring me bliss: Jane Austen, my go to girl for happy fuzzy feelings and decompression. Victoria Holt for blissfully delightful gothic-ness.

  4. Loved Gone With The WInd. Took me to another world and have read it many times. Each time, with the perspective of a number of years between readings, my take on the story and the characters changes. It’s like reading a new book each time! xoM

    • I cannot believe I left that out–I loved that book and Scarlett’s “I’ll think about it tomorrow” attitude!

      • Yes! I was 16 when I first read that book, had dark brown hair and green eyes (though no 18-inch-waist!) and I soooo identified with Scarlett! Over the years and many re-readings, Melanie has become my heroine. The one thing that has never wavered is my choice of Rhett as leading man; what has changed is that he’s gone from being the bad boy to being a profoundly patient and loving man in my mind! xoxoM

      • always loved Rhett–could never stand Ashley

      • I could never figure out what Scarlett saw in Ashley! lol xoM

      • me either–he was so bloody annoying and did not deserve Melanie

      • Yes, talk about mealie-mouthed!

      • exactly – good word for him

  5. Mary Karr’s memoir books, The Dollmaker by Harriet arnow, gee, my brain is all jammed up trying to name my favorites because there are too many!

    • I know, but I must find Mary Karr–I love memoir books

      • What! Oh my goodness! Please start with The Liar’s Club. Then read Cherry after that. Lit is after that and it’s more specialized. See me after you’re done with Cherry ;).

      • okay I will go back to the library site–I have the other two on hold so I will find Liar’s Club

      • Mary Karr – the Liar’s Club is one of my ultimate favorites. Each time I read it I escape to East Texas poverty. You HAVE TO read it – beg, borrow or steal a copy (sorry, I’m not lending mine;-)

      • I could not get it at the library so will have to look at the bookstore which is 30 miles away

  6. I like Bryce Courtenay, Dick Francis and Jack Higgins, off the top of my head. But I will read just about anything, if I can just find a moment to sit still long enough. I finished a book this month and felt it was an accomplishment – sad, when I used to read about 3 books a week.

    • you have been crazy busy as of late–do not be hard on yourself–I am familiar with Dick but not the other two, you are expanding my repertoire

  7. There is something so comforting about a good book, reread a million times (or close to :P)
    I love the classics like Jane Eyre, Dracula and Black Beauty!

    Cheers
    CCU

  8. Exactly! I would rather read than do almost anything else, of a recreational nature…certainly reading wins hands down over tv or sports! Favorites…Jane Austen, Jan Karon, MM Kaye, Nora Roberts, CS Lewis, Tolkein, Winston Churchill, Kathleen Thompson Norris, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Georgette Heyer… and too many others to list! All bliss! ~ Sheila

  9. And thanks for your suggestions on books about writing…haven’t ready any of them, and I look forward to new bliss! ~ Sheila

  10. Oh Wow… so many authors, so many books… my head is spinning. I have about 75 free Kindle Books waiting for me and a big pile in the living room, and a big pile in the family room, and a big pile in the bedroom and I just ordered 4 more… (2 of which are the Natalie Goldberg books you mentioned)
    Someone needs to invent a way to infuse books into the bloodstream so I can get more of them read.

    • you are rich–I always feel rich when I have a pile of books I have not read

  11. Ken Follett … PIllars of the Earth. All time favorite.

  12. I wonder how many of us who love to write identified strongly with Jo when we were growing up? I know I sure did!

    I definitely find bliss in reading too and am constantly seeking out new authors to read. I’ll have to try some of the ones suggested here.

    My taste in reading varies from light hearted novels for sheer relaxation (just finished Maeve Binchey’s last, A Week in Winter) to heavier non-fiction. If you haven’t read Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn it’s an absolute must. It is definitely one of the most compelling books I’ve ever read.

    • sounds like a must read–and yes, it would be interesting to find out how many of us were influenced by Jo–I must have read Little Women 7 or 8 times

  13. Wow from all your commenters I got a lot of books to keep names of. I have been away from reading for many years…Concentration being key but got an E Reader for Christmas so have started out and needed some suggestions….Diane

  14. We like many of the same authors, surprise, surprise. I used to devour writing books. Some of the ones you mentioned up above are totally wonderful. My favorite books lately are spiritual ones by Adyashanti, Eckhart Tolle, Jan Frazier and others who share about non-duality and Oneness.

    • I shall check them out–Tolle I am of course familiar with with not necessarily the others- thanks.

      • If you’re interested I would read Adyashanti next. Oh, and Byron Katie is another good one.

      • I like Byron Katie — so I will go with Adyashanti next

  15. The first book I ever read to myself was Little Women, I remember reading it but didn’t realize how young I was, my grandmother tells me I started it at age 3 coming to her now and again to spell out a word I couldn’t make out then leaving to go off and read. It took me close to a year to read it, but by age 5 when I started school I’d read Little Women, Tom Sawyer, and Huckleberry Finn. By high school I was reading Stephen King, love his son’s books (although he now only writes graphic comics), the only King book I can say I hated was Dreamcatcher. Other authors I like are Diana Gabaldon, J.K. Rowling, Patrica Cornwell, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and pretty much anything I can get my hands on. I tend to stay away from romance and fantasy but once in a while one will catch my eye and I will read it.

    • you are one very well-read girl — we have a lot of the same favourite authors–you read so early–amazing

  16. Reading has always been a way for me to “escape” the real world temporarily. I love rereading books so I’m guilty of always reading old books and not trying out new ones. Off the top of my head, I love LM Montgomery, Jane Austen, CS Lewis, Dennis Lehane, and a bunch of others I can’t remember.

    • I know, off the top of my head I can only remember a few, but like you I have many favourites. It is my way to escape too

  17. Every since I could understand the words on the page, I have loved reading. It was my safe place, my escape and my love.

    I really liked Stephen Kings “On Writing,” too.

  18. I love these books too!

  19. Yes, I’m a Goldberg fan, and an Annie Dillard one too…. ion fact I love womens writing, from Jane Austen to Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macaulay, the Mitford’s of course, and then there ‘s so many good women historians CV Wedgwood, Antonia Fraser, Artemis Cooper… and for sheer fun: The Jane Austen Book Club… can’t remember her name….Sue Townsend is one of the funniest writers, especially her Adrian Mole Diary series…

    • I could use a little funny–will have to keep her in mind. You are definitely one well-read girl!

  20. I must confess – I bookmarked this page to keep rereading later. I am a voracious rereader. I’ve been rereading Anna Karenina a few times a year since 1996. Seriously.
    Other writers I love are CS Lewis and Stephen King. I like fun, escapist chicklit romps too (although I don’t reread those, too much;)

    • Have to admit to a chicklit or two, even though I am an old hen in those terms. I love all the suggestions people have made and am going to make a list. I used to reread when I was a kid, now I find it difficult to reread.

  21. I’m happy that you said Little Women! It’s actually one of my favourites too; the only Classic that I will happily read, haha.
    I recommend Mitch Albom for you. His books are really inspiring and filled with people in search of a happy ending or a peace of mind. Start with The Five People You Meet in Heaven and work your way from there. :)

    • I have read Mitch and your are right–he is inspiring. He is also a columnist for a Detroit paper and he writes wonderfully (Detroit is just over the border from Windsor, Ont–and I only live about 30 miles away)

  22. Harper Lee and William Faulkner, of course. HF

  23. From the time I got a boxed set of Nancy Drew mysteries I have never been too far from a book. I used to go in my closet with a flashlight to read I loved it so much.. i have so many favorite authors.. i am currently reading a Non-fiction, called “Behind the beautiful forevers”..

    • I read Nancy Drew and loved her and the Hardy Boys–my brothers had the whole set
      The Book you are reading now sounds interesting…

  24. [...] ~ Reading Bliss ~ (onthehomefrontandbeyond.wordpress.com) [...]

  25. Some of my very favourite books are: Map of Time by Felix Palma, The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon, Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton, When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman, A Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Sugar Queen by Sara Addison Allen, all of Philippa Gregory’s Tudor Series, Bleak House by Charles Dickens, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, all of LM Montgomery’s books, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, and Kurt Vonnegut’s The Breakfast of Champions.
    I am currently loving 11/22/63 by Stephen King and will likely be adding it to my list.

    • What a wonderful and eclectic list–you are one well read girl. Thanks for some new reading ideas along the way.

      • That’s what happens when you’re an English Teacher and you work in a bookstore. lol. But you have a great reading list yourself! I remember you telling me you had your own bookstore for a while and it shows!

      • good memory – I am impressed — I loved almost all my english teachers–it was my favourite subject

  26. i grew up in a small town outside of syracuse. our library was in an old victoria house on the river. i read every book in the children’s section by the time i was 11. i too loved trixie belden. Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War, Michael Herr’s Dispatches, We Were Soldiers Once and Young (trying to sort out the Vietnam experience i guess). Anything by Neal Stephenson, the journals of Camus. The Berrybender chronicles by Larry McMurtry. The list will just keep growing i’m afraid so i’l stop.


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