When I was a kid I read all kinds of different books. I read the traditional young children’s books, Dr. Seuss, Charlotte’s Web, Peter Rabbit, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, all the traditionals, and in middle to upper elementary grades I read The Box Car Children, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, many of the classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, etc. But I loved biographies about baseball players, presidents, men and women who made a difference in the world throughout history. I loved reading about Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, particularly their lives growing up. During high school I read many other classic books and got turned onto Shakespeare and poetry. That was also the time when I became obsessed with Erma Bombeck. I read every book she ever wrote and many of her columns, as well as her TV appearances. I remember laughing so hard one time I was pouring copious tears and holding my aching stomach. She was brilliant. My sister Jamey said I have a wit like her when I write. That is not intentional, but certainly her brand of humor was a big influence on how I see the world. When I hit adulthood I read mostly chick novels. Many were romance stories (a genre I hate now) and historical novels. I remember a book called Sacajewea (a novel) by Anna Lee Waldo. Utterly fascinating. One scene that stuck with me is how she washed her hair at the river by wetting it and rubbing sand in it, then rinsing it out. That was the native American way, at least the tribe she came from. I learned so much about the Lewis and Clark expedition, and it was a novel.
I got really caught up in Danielle Steele, a romance writer. Barf. In my 30s I got into Christian novels that read like Hallmark movies. Barf. I can’t stand those kind of books anymore. I discovered Francine Rivers, and amazing Christian novelist I still respect. Her famous book, Redeeming Love was a parallel story of the book of Hosea in the Bible where God told the prophet to marry a prostitute. It took place in the 1800s. It was a thick book but a riveting story. Then I took a turn and read the Little House on the Prairie and Anne Green Gables series’. I can read those over and over. I will never tire of them. I also discovered Jane Austen. I remember once trying to read Anna Karenina. As riveting an epic as it was, I just can’t read a book that fat – 864 pages, come on.
About 11 or 12 years ago I was introduced to Brock and Bodie Thoene (pronounced Tay-nee), who write award winning historical novels. Brock, the husband, is a messianic Jew and does the extensive research and contributes to the story line. Bodie, his wife, is a Christian woman who once wrote scripts for Hollywood. She writes the stories and I have learned a lot about writing through reading her books. They are known for writing book series and what is remarkable is that most of the series are connected, usually through the prologue. It is really amazing. The Zion Chronicles novel series covers the events surrounding Israel’s statehood in 1948, something I knew nothing about. By reading their Zion Covenant series I learned Hitler’s strategy and tactics to enter and take over Europe. I learned the big players his regime and their roles. All of this done through well rounded characters and edge of your seat plot.
They wrote the A.D. series about the time of Jesus. The author’s bring all the people in the gospels into the series and make them come alive. Every series, every book is a sweeping saga, brilliantly written. After reading almost every series they’ve ever written (I am re-reading the Zion Covenant series now) my taste in novel genres has changed drastically. I want to read books of substance and depth, not flowery love stories or books that are interesting but not riveting.
Several years ago I discovered the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I’ve read them two or three times. Other books of Lewis I love are The Screwtape Letters about an Uncle demon named Screwtape who writes to his nephew Wormwood to teach him how to be a good demon and bring Christians down. Anything by Lewis, non fiction or fiction is genius.
Recently some ladies in our church started a book club. I joined but have been disappointed sometimes. They started with a Hallmarky type book by a very popular Christian author so I declined to read that one. I used to devour that woman’s books. Then we read a Brock and Bodie Thoene story, then a great novel called Of Windmills and War by Diane Moody. Another riveting historical novel about Holland in WWII. It’s also a coming of age story, a small town boy grows up when he goes to war. Now we are reading another Hallmark book by another author I ready voraciously 30 years ago. I have been scratching my head because of the way she writes. Another romance book but I find her wording strange. Parts of it our interesting but I’m rather bored. I will continue reading because I paid for it. I hope we will be reading in many genres. Did I mention I don’t like Hallmark type movies, TV series, or books? When I tell women that they say how much they adore them. The men always roll their eyes and yawn. Why don’t I like them? They are so predictable it’s ridiculous, it’s always a love story, and it always has a happily ever after ending. Oh, and their Christmas movies, endless. I looked through a menu of their Christmas movies and was amazed how many titles they came up with using “Holiday” or “Christmas.” People that like these movies like them because of their happy predictable endings. That’s okay. It’s not bad or wrong to love Hallmark. It’s just not my thing. Life is not full of tidy bows (I almost wrote tidy bowls, lol). It will be interesting to see the next change in genres I will get into. But for now, my favorite type of fiction is historical, or dramatic books that keeps me on the edge of my sea or reaches the depths of my soul. I am not for horror stuff, but I love a good mystery. My favorite non-fiction is biographies and books on issues that are important to me. For a while I was reading a series of comic proportions called Miss Julia books. They were fluff but I needed the laughter and oh my did I laugh. A cranky woman of a certain age and all her antics and drama. Sometimes you just need something light.
All this reminds me of the evolution of magazines. When I was very small it was Humpty Dumpty, followed by Highlights, the Weekly Reader (I’m dating myself aren’t I. I know your heart’s beating with sentimentality), then Tiger Beat and all the other teen magazines, then Redbook, then Better Homes and Garden, and Parents. Then I got hooked on People, then Readers Digest. And now? I get a thrill when I see a copy of AARP. All the iconic idols of my growing up years, like Bruce Springsteen, are on the cover with deeply etched crows feet. I will be 65 in a few months. My son called me elderly last summer. I nearly slapped him, but I know he was just grasping for a word and that popped out. He felt bad. But I told him in 4 years he’ll start being offered senior discounts. Lol.
At my age, and with a case of Macular Degeneration waiting to come into bloom, I am just grateful to be able to read at all, and I’m thankful for audio books which I will need one day. Let me end by saying I would rather spend three hours in a book store or library than going to the beach or a Macy’s sale. I would rather inhale the scent of books than a salty breeze. Am I weird? I don’t care.
If you are interested in the Thoene books here is their website:
https://www.thoenebooks.com/ or you can find them here on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Books-Bodie-Brock-Thoene/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3ABodie+and+Brock+Thoene