Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Opposite Authors; Equally Astounding

I've been reading a lot lately. I'm not sure if you do the same, but I tend to go through phases with reading; I read either a lot or a little (but I never don't read at all).

Sometimes I have two books, a magazine, and a pile of recipes--all going at once. Other times I am deeply engrossed in just one book, or even a particular author, voraciously requesting book after book from my library's online request system. (The library, by the way, is a magnificent, state-of-the-art facility, located just blocks from my house. Walking distance. Although I drive, because it's at the top of a big hill and I am sometimes lazy. Okay, often lazy. But that's not the point).

The point is, are you familiar with Harlan Coben? And Elizabeth Berg? Each are wildly successful authors whose styles and subject matter are polar opposites, yet are equally, astoundingly, skillful in their craft.

Coben's are mysteries. Sometimes gruesome, sometimes not so gruesome, but always exciting. And, well, mysterious. But not just any level of mysterious. If you'd asked me ten years ago why I love his books, I'd have said "because they're gripping." Now, (having given up the notion that I can read as a reader, rather than reading as a writer) I will tell you it's because he moves the story forward with literally every single word. Literally! (Yes, I pun, but it's also true.)

There is an unexpected, yet entirely plausible twist in every chapter. Page. Paragraph. Sentence, for heaven's sake! I don't know how he does it, but I am continually amazed and truly thankful that a person with such skills exists, and chooses to share this gift with us, his readers.

Then there's Elizabeth Berg. Who is not at all a mystery author, but rather a women's author. She writes on matters of the heart, of life, of women. You would think she knows you; either the you that you are now, the you that you used to be, or the you that you know (from reading her books) you are very likely to become.

You wish she was your friend. Or at the very least, your therapist. Or both. Her understanding of the human condition is--again I must use this word--astounding. It makes you wonder how she could possibly know all of this. Has she lived it? Learned it? Does she just somehow magically have an intuition that allows her to share all of this, with us, her fortunate readers?

I would recommend some titles, but that is not necessary. Pick up any book by Coben or Berg; every one is a sure thing. Just don't start one at night if you need to be up in the morning--you're sure to be up late, reading, and hopefully astounded, as I am.

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