I'm lucky enough to come from a family that really loves books. I grew up reading all kinds of stuff -- Stephen King, Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, comic books, violent pulp novels, those crazy choose-your-own ending books. And I loved -- and still love -- literature, too. I have always liked Ernest Hemingway. Remember reading Steinbeck in high school, and it stuck with me. P.C. Wren wrote one of my all-time favorites, Beau Geste. Ralph Ellison. Conrad.
I love reading Edgar Allan Poe around Halloween.
Maya Angelou. D.H. Lawrence. Langston Hughes.
Oh, yeah. Shakespeare.
It wasn't really until I got to Washington, D.C. that I started reading a lot of non-fiction. Still love it, though I mix it up pretty well with fiction. For variety.
Right now I'm in the middle of The Omnivore's Delimma, by Michael Pollan. At this point in the book, I am fairly confident I am never buying food again. If I thought I had the room or the talent, I'd grow everything from now on. Seriously, read the book -- it's quite something.
But back to the political stuff: I came across this great set of book club recommendations. Actually, Flashlight Worthy Books is a great site generally (and you can follow them on Twitter @flwbooks).
Take some time and check out the Politics & Current Affairs section. I was depressed at how many of the books I hadn't read... and then I remembered: I love books. My Christmas wish list is already set!
Look, any list (Must-Reads From the Panelists of Flaming Politics) that includes Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy World A.) knows a lot about politics, and B.) is my kind of book list.
But FLW Books is not relegated to the political, of course. There is a book list for Biography & Memoir, one category of which is Memoirs of Our Presidential Candidates.
It's a long story and you don't care, but I've pretty much had to give up drinking. But for my friends who like to hit the sauce, there's Nine Booze-Soaked Books (of which I have read a dismal four: Big Sur; Tortilla Flat; Tender is the Night; John Barleycorn). Anyone who has spent five seconds in politics knows that drinking and politicking go together like reading and... well... writing, I guess. Something like that, anyway.
I spend a lot of time on this blog smarmily congratulating myself on my time in the Clinton Administration and other political adventures. But one thing I don't talk about -- ever -- is my writing life, such as it is. Or such as I want it to be.
I have finished a novel-length work (even I don't have the chutzpah to call it a "book") of fiction that is essentially a love story set against the backdrop of a war in the violent criminal underworld. I'm looking for an agent. I have begun re-writing a second work of similar length. I've had small pieces of fiction and non-fiction published in some relatively small journals.
I enjoy writing. I enjoy the process, and I am enjoying learning about how the agenting and publishing world works (there is a lot to learn).
Anyway, I found the Writing list to be a treasure trove. It's the other half of my Christmas list.
So if you belong to a book club -- whether or not it's political -- please check out these book club recommendations. Thanks to Flashlight Worthy Books, I bet you'll find something you like.