Thursday, May 18, 2006

Reading is Fun Week: Thrilling Thursday, May 18th

As we continue to celebrate Reading is Fun Week, we must acknowledge "Thrilling Thursday." If you are like me, too many nights have been spent as the hours wax and wane reading "just one more chapter," or "just until this plot line is resolved." As I have entered the working world, I have found myself disadvantaged in relation to my fellow coworkers who do not come into work with dark circles under their eyes, and hair in a ponytail from trying to get the last chapter finished before showering and doing the minimally necessary requirements to be socially presentable for employment. Yes, as I have stated before, I am a nerd. Some people attend work with hangovers from partying too much; other people have reading hangovers.

According to the Reading is Fundamental people, we should play the game "Meet Me at the Library" on "Thrilling Thursday. I however would like to introduce you to my most favorite thrillers that you will find if you meet me in my library.

Barbara G. Mertz, PhD aka Barbara Michaels & Elizabeth Peters

This is my favorite author to pick up when I want to read and not have to worry about what I am reading. I know that I won't be grossed out by anything overly violent, and I will not have to concentrate too much on character development, because most of her characters are strong independent women, or not-so-strong-women who discover strength by the end of the novel. Yeah, she is mystery-chick-lit, and I am ashamed of myself for promoting non-literature, but this women has set herself apart by writing mysteries with fun setting and good back story which contained a large dollop of romantic comedy.

Barbara, (I'm just going to call her Barbara. I've been reading for years. We're tight.) has a PhD in Egyptology, and it shows through in her writing. When she doesn't write about Egypt, her topics are well researched, and interesting to read just for the quick-fic-info. Her mysteries that are set in Egypt are always chock full of history, social issues, archeology, and other fun knowledge-o-ramma.

In her words the reasons for writing under three names are under the recommendation of her editorial staff, and thus:

The ostensible reason for using pseudonyms is that readers need to distinguish the various types of books written by a single author; Mertz writes nonfiction on archaeology, Michaels writes thrillers, many with a supernatural element, and Peters focuses on mystery suspense. I find the various names a horrible nuisance, but apparently readers do see a difference between the productions of these personae. (Barbara Mertz, also known as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, in her own words)
My favorite "Barbara Michaels" book is Houses of Stone, and my favorite "Elizabeth Peters" book is The Camelot Caper. My favorite series that Barbara has written is the Vicky Bliss series, of five books. I would not recommend getting on the Amelia Peabody runaway train. That is a series that just needs to stop. I stopped reading at book ten of the nineteen book series. No woman, no family, needs their lives documented in that much detail. Everyone starts doing the same things, the characters cannot act beyond their cliches when there are ten or so books of set patterns of behavior behind them. It's just wrong.

My other "thriller" reading recommendation is the Trixie Belden series. These were the books that I read over and over from age 10 to age... okay I still occasionally pick one up. Trixie Belden is a teen girl sleuth, much like Nancy Drew, or Veronica Mars. (I actually don't know anything about Veronica Mars, I just have been told by lots of people that I would really like the show and that I should watch it, so someday I will, this is just a nod to them.) Only, Trixie Belden solves her mysteries in jeans and tennis shoes, not pumps and a pencil skirt, Trixie does not drive a car, she has to get rides from her mom or in her brother's jalopy, and she babysits. I identified with her as a teenager. Also, she has blond curly hair, and I wanted that... still want that.

And now I feel like I need to redeem myself by provide other reading recommendations from Absent's library that are not formulaic and predictable, because I am neurotic enough to worry that some reader might disengage themselves after realizing that I enjoy pulp fiction. (Please don't go!)


We, Robert A. Johnson
The Frog Prince, Stephen Mitchell
Answer to Job, C.G. Jung
The Heart Is a Little to the Left, Essays on Public Morality, William Sloan Coffin
Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, Lois P. Frankel
Eats Shoots and Leaves, Lynne Truss
The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
Parallel Myths, J.F. Bierlein


The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
Metamorphoses, Ovid
The Once and Future King, T.H. White
Just So Stories, Rudyard Kipling
Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Blue Castle, L.M. Montgomery
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
The Giver, Lois Lowry
Summerland, Michael Chabon
The Rose Daughter, Robin McKinley
Holes, Louis Sachar
A Long Way from Chicago, Richard Peck
A Year Down Yonder, Richard Peck
Stargirl, Spinelli
Freak the Mighty, Rodman Philbrick
Frindle, Andrew Clements

And of course, the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga.


Briam said...

"Reading hangovers"! I get those all the time. My coworkers think I do drugs, but now I have a technical term to throw back at them.

Absent-minded Secretary said...

Glad I could help... hey, don't you work at a school? Wouldn't it be very bad for your co-workers to think that you do drugs.

Briam said...

Well, no formal accusations have been made, but I would think I was on drugs if I were me. More to worry about is what my 3rd graders think. But they know to stay out of my way before recess. My real problem is that I'm competing with other adults who start their days with a large pot of caffeine. In other words, It appears I'm on drugs because I'm not.

Nemesis said...

I must admit, I'm a sucker for some Amelia Peabody. But I haven't read any of the newer train-wreck stuff.

Absent-minded Secretary said...

I used to be a Peabody fan too, but now I just wish there were more Vicky Bliss stories. Glad to see you are a fellow Peters fan! :)