Some may be surprised we have our own Arthur Conan Doyle, right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, writing about a very authentic feeling Victorian England, covering the adventures of Cyrus Barker, enquiry agent and his assistant Thomas Llewelyn. While reminiscent of Holmes and our dear Dr. Watson, Will Thomas’ stories are able to stand on their own. I found a great site for reviews of his five novels, Heretical Ideas does a marvelous job of describing all five.
Will Thomas just happened to win the Oklahoma Book Award in the Fiction category in 2005 for Some Danger Involved.
Do they know what they’re doing or what. I think the first one is a must, getting your bearings with the characters, and atmosphere.
What I really like about the series is the handling of historical, ethnic and cultural issues, while serving up a good mystery.
Some Danger Involved, looks at anti-semitism in Victorian England; To Kingdom Come, Irish terrorists; The Limehouse Text, Chinese immigrants and culture in London; The Hellfire Conspiracy, child kidnapping, serial killings, and the Hellfire Club amid socio-economic minefields; and finally the Sicilian mafia, and the introduction of organized crime to the streets and docks of London, in The Black Hand.
This new one is out there now, start reading, but I think you will want to go back and pick up the others. I’m almost finished with my fifth.
I believe in reading, not just the truly important works, or the socially significant ones, just the action of reading. So as I write in this blog sometimes you will just get titles or authors I’ve just picked up and read. My grandmother used to read westerns, I mean boxes of westerns, she and the next door neighbor ( a long distance truck driver) would swap them by the boxes full. So whenever I would go down to the T.G. & Y. (an earlier Oklahoma Walmart type store, where I spent a great deal of my childhood),
Gran would say get me a few. While I was there I usually picked up some comics for myself as well, or a paperback or two. And so I just read, it’s hereditary and learned behavior. Not every book I mention will you want to read, some I’ll really go on about, some mention in passing.
Just read and the good will come to the top, the bad will be easily forgotten and you’ll enjoy yourself along the way.
P.S. Just finished a Jane Ann Krentz, romance lovers you can’t go wrong with her books. AKA Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle.
I watched the Jane Austen Book Club this afternoon, movie about books and romance, what more could you want. I think I’m more of the Ursula K. Le Guin girl than Jane Austen, but both could work. I’ve got to re-read Left Hand of Darkness. Somewhere in this house is a copy of Voices, that I haven’t read. And I need to read the Jane Austen Book Club by Fowler.
Saturday or Sunday is usually laundry day, so I think that calls for a Doing Laundry Books category. Of course it has to be a book you can put down and pick up again, nothing too intense so you can stop and move clothes from the washer into the dryer, nothing too unputdownable so the dryer clothes don’t remain there to become hopelessly wrinkled. This week it was a Charlaine Harris (of Sookie Stackhouse fame) book, The Julius House.
“Well, if you really want to know—she asked me if it was really true that you were marrying a Yankee. I said, ‘Well, Miss Neecy, he is from Ohio.’ And she said, ‘Poor Aida. I know you’re worried. But there are some nice ones. Aurora will be all right, honey.’ ” p.72.
This was written before her southern vampire series, so sex is just alluded to and no gorgeous vampires appear. But it is what I think of as a southern cozy, which works for laundry day.
Chick-lit can also work but that can wait for another day.
I like the introduction of Angel and Shelby Youngblood. The mystery is all about a missing family, and what we know or don’t know about each other in any relationship.
I think Harris was developing her voice in these early titles and they are a bit uneven. She is certainly better now. But hey, it’s Laundry day.
I just read this weekend a quote from Steve Jobs about reading. Shelfari (social networking book site) is quite perturbed over it, and launching a 50 books reading challenge to reject his premise. So here’s what he said:
When asked about the new Amazon Kindle product, Steve Jobs CEO of Apple computer had this to say:
“It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore,” he said. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.”
I think the problem with the kindle is those of us who do read don’t want to spend almost $400.00 to read a book, that’s a lot of paperbacks or overdue library fines. And for that price it should be a lot better format than print and I’m just not sure it is.
Do we really think “people just don’t read anymore”?
And if this is true, why is it true?
There seems to be another Steinbeck dust-up. Apparently Bob Burke has taken Mr. Steinbeck to task for his treatment of us Okies in his book, John Steinbeck was Wrong about Oklahoma! Dennie Hall, Books editor for the Oklahoman, in the September 28th paper didn’t think the book was all that, even though he remains a Burke fan. Then on the heels of this article I see an article in the November 5th Oklahoma Gazette, by William W. Savage comparing the Burke book with Rick Wartzman’s Obscene in the Extreme: The Burning and Banning of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. I think the comparison is probably unfair since both authors were trying to accomplish totally different objectives. But whatever the discussion, I find it tiresome.
Stop the Steinbeck madness, could it be time to explore some other alternatives to literature about Oklahoma during the dustbowl, depression and the migration to California, besides the “Grapes of Wrath”?
During the 2006 Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma statewide reading and discussion program, Sanora Babb’s book, Whose Names are Unknown (University of Oklahoma Press, 2004) was selected as one of the nominations. This is a beautifully written portrayal of the dust bowl in Oklahoma and the migration of workers. Written by an Oklahoman born in Oklahoma Territory in 1907, who actually worked with refugee farmers in the FSA camps of 1930s California, it equals any dust bowl book with it’s honesty, humanity and sensitivity to a people laid low by tragedies not of their making.
Excerpt: “We’d better go in or we’ll choke,” he said bitterly. The dust rolled over them in thin clouds, stealthy, quiet, moving as if by an obscure power. There was no sound. They retreated into the dugout. Milt was last. He shielded his eyes and nose and looked up. The top was far above him, taller than a tree. Then it passed over the house and he could see nothing but dust before his eyes. The barn was a mere shadow. He noticed in surprise that the dust was fine and soft, unlike the harsh grains that cut against his skin on windy days. He felt it in his throat like fur and had to cough. He went in and shut the door securely, kicking a sack against the crack.”
Another book, by Oklahoman, Rilla Askew, about people struggling through the Great Depression is Harpsong. She is the equal to any great American novelist around. This is no easy read but worth the effort. Poetic and deeply moving, it captures life on the road and riding the rails during the Great Depression.
So give Steinbeck a break, turn to something new on an old topic.
One of my favorite quotes about reading is, “Never apologize for your reading tastes.” My own are varied and unapologetic. The author of this quote, Betty Rosenberg, wrote the first, Genreflecting, (Now in its sixth edition and currently written by Diana Tixier Herald), which lists popular reading titles in Historical, Western, Crime, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She was the early Nancy Pearl, the woman who got us thinking again about “BookLust“, and what to pick up next.
Nancy Pearl herself. Her wiki.
With the internet we have the greatest reading lists of books available that we could ever imagine, lists galore, listservs, LibraryThing, litblogs, Oprah and Nancy Pearl. It’s the readers’ “kid in a candy store”. I have TBR (to be read) lists everywhere, books stacked up in every possible place, working in a library is a reading junkie’s best habitat.
So little time so many books…
What do I like in particular, hmmm…, Oklahoma authors and settings, I think we sell ourselves short with what others say about us, and don’t promote and read our own enough. I like almost any fiction; including mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, romance, contemporary literature and not so much horror. Some non-fiction. I think if the author can’t capture your attention in the first fifty pages, then its move along, life’s too short.
Finally I should end with saying the opinions expressed in my blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer, newsok, or my husband, and very probably don’t. I hope you choose to comment and express your opinions as well.