I Fanatically Recommend at Every Opportunity
Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
I went on a Graham Greene binge last year, and this was one of my favorites.
It's a take on Cervantes' Don Quixote (which I'm reading now because of this
book), in which a chivalrous monsignor sets out on a quest, complete with his
own Rocinante and Sancho Panza.
Fool by Richard
Russo is wickedly funny. Between this book and Straight Man, Russo has become one of my favorite writers. In Nobody's Fool he creates a world I didn't want
to leave even though it takes place in a town that's dying, and is filled
with a host of charming losers who seem to fumble through life (including the
world's dumbest man and a philanderer that would make a president blush).
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
Reading any of Wolfe's work feels almost like going on a bender because he
wrote with such intensity and passion. This book is my favorite of Wolfe's
because as he delves into who he is, he also provides breathtaking portraits of
Europe on the brink of World War II that are incredibly insightful about what
is to come. His insight is especially poignant since he died at the age of 38
in 1938. This is definitely a book that must be devoured rather than read in
Writer's Beginnings by Eudora
This is a deceptively slim book that still haunts me. It's Welty's
autobiographical look at what shaped her as a writer, delving into her
childhood in Mississippi and her family's passionate dedication to oral
history, books, and music.
Mysteries that Keep Me Addicted
The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo
Sjowall and Wahloo (a Swedish couple who wrote in the sixties and seventies) keep you
gripped on the edge of your seat throughout this book. In my humble opinion,
this is one of the best mysteries ever written convoluted, suspenseful, great
prose, and superb characterization.
Cosi Fan Tutti by Michael Dibdin
Napolese villains set to the theme of Mozart's opera the mafia, corruption,
unfaithful lovers, and marauding garbage trucks Dibdin is always fun.
Thin Man by Dashiell
A classic for a reason, as well as a fun glimpse into the 1930s world of
nightclubs, gangsters, and witty repartee over whiskey for breakfast.
Native Tongue by Carl Hiaasen
Hiaasen makes the top of my list for his bitingly funny writing. As a former
Floridian who fled the land of greedy land developers and Yankees who dress in
pink and green plaid, his story especially rings true to me.
Assorted Other Books I'd Grab First in the Event of a Fire
Creek Cookery by Marjorie
As an undergrad at the University of Florida, I used to frequently drive the 15
minutes or so to Rawlings' home (creator of The Yearling and South Moon Under)
in Cross Creek. I would wander through the dilapidated orange grove, and read
by the water, before heading over to Micanopy to haunt a wonderful little used
bookstore. This cookbook by Rawlings provides both delicious recipes for
traditional Florida fare as well as a glimpse into rural Florida in the thirties and
forties. While you may never use some of the recipes (bear and squirrel recipes
aren't much in demand these days), many others represent Southern cooking at
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
This book has an extremely special place in my heart. I highly recommend
reading it aloud to someone you love if you feel the need to escape for a time
into another world.
Half Past Autumn by Gordon Parks
This is Parks' look back on his career as one of the nation's most talented
photographers. His career has spanned decades, and at the same time he was
photographing some of the world's most beautiful models, he was also tackling
the subjects of racism, poverty, and violence, while fighting prejudice and
discrimination himself. This book is my latest treasure, and is mesmerizing
Life: a Biography of Billy Strayhorn by David
This is a biography of the brilliant jazz composer and collaborator with Duke
Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, who created such classics as Lush Life
and Take the A Train, as well as Boo Dah, a piece impossible
to sit still to. Strayhorn's life was a fascinating combination of brilliance,
self-destruction, and incredible friendship.