When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?
I love historical fiction and mysteries, as well as political thrillers and suspense novels. I read a lot, at least a book a week. My Kindle is well stocked and I have a stack of paperbacks ready to read, too.
Now and then I try to throw in something new and have been introduced to untried genres by a book/chatting club I belong to. With them I read my first Number #1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall-Smith, a Scot living in Edinburgh. He is not only a prolific author of fiction, crime fiction, children’s books and academic non- fiction, but also Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He was born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) of Scottish parents, in 1981 went to Africa to co-found and teach law at the University of Botswana and is the author of the only book on the country’s legal system, The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992). From his charming books, you are surprised to learn that he is primarily an academician. His books show a keen appreciation of setting, and of human nature.
Another favorite author of mine is P.D. James whose personal background informs her writing: she spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain’s Home Office. I have especially enjoyed her books featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, a poetry-writing detective who solves the most curious and and convoluted English crimes. I have found some other of her books to be a little to dark for my taste, but the language she uses sets her books a cut above other mysteries.
Another author I really enjoy is Daniel Silva, most of whose books center on the Israeli secret agent, Gabriel Allon. The curious mixture of this agent’s avocation as a art restorer, and his ability to seek and solve cases of political intrigue, are not without a good deal of violence all around. This is a character well-formed and filled out — not just the macho gun-toting spy without a conscience, living in a dangerous world of twisted allegiances and characters. I have read most of his novels to date.
I’m a little hot and cold on Patricia Cornwell — her novels have good story lines, but not as much gifted storytelling. John Grisham is a better story teller, but I don’t like some of his characters. And for just a quick read, there’s always Sue Grafton, Kathy Reichs, Iris Johansen, Linda Scottoline, and many more.
I tend to avoid science fiction and fantasy, but through my reading group was introduced to Jasper Fforde, an English novelist who combines time travel with mystery. We read the Eyre Affair (and there are sequels). I enjoyed the new reading adventure enough that I feel must try at least one more. None of his books has a Chapter 13.
I have totally left out my historical fiction favorites, but suffice it to say they usually involve England, Scotland, or the United States. Historical fiction is a fine way to get the feeling and details about a time period without fearing an exam at the end of the book. Sometimes I do have to do a little factual research to help me understand the important events in one of these novels, but that’s not a bad thing, is it?
And yes, I do read non-fiction from time to time.