There is always something familiar about the characters in Tom Bodett's stories.
From teacher to preacher, from ne'er do well to entrepreneur, within these characters
I recognize many of my friends, family, and sometimes a little bit myself.
If you ever have to make a long drive or commute, take along a few of
these books on tape; they make a nice change from the radio.
Piers Anthony writes fantasy novels, and lots of them !
He is a very prolific writer, and seems to have the ability to work on
a number of writing projects simultaneously. Many years ago, a
co-worker started me reading his works and, many years after that, I
discovered that she had started a number of my friends reading his
books as well.
His Xanth novels are a good light read, with a lot of puns, very much tongue in cheek.
Prostho Plus is the story of a dentist who is abducted by aliens (one of them needs a filling),
and taken on a voyage where his dental skills prove to be invaluable.
The Mode series revolves around Colleen, a troubled young girl from a harsh environment who escapes into a fantastic realm of multiple realities, the "Mode" series combines colorful and imaginative storytelling with a the full consideration of serious concerns, including depression, suicide and abuse. This series may not be to everyone's liking, so scan through it at the store before buying it.
Harry Turtledove's widely ranging interests have allowed him to write on a broad
number of subjects. Although best know for his historical fiction ("what if" books, like
"The Guns of the South"), he has written on a variety of subjects. One of his books that I
really enjoyed was "The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump", which is basically a 1950's
type detective novel which takes place in Los Angeles. The twist is that all of the
technology is based on magic rather than science.
Harry Turtledove is a native Angelino, with a Ph.D. in history from UCLA.
During the 80's, before taking up writing full time, he worked as a technical
writer for the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
Why John Steinbeck ?
Well, this is something very personal to me...
I was one of the founding members of an organization that attempted to increase community input on a development project in our neighborhood in Culver City. Among other things, the city council wanted
to build almost on top of Lynnwood Howe elementary school and, by wearing the two hats of council
and also redevelopment agency, some of their practices were highly irregular. To make a long story
short, by the time that I was done with this effort, between my fellow citizens and the local government,
I felt like I was living in a Steinbeck novel. From the petty aspirations of local officials to the neighbors who
attempted to cut private deals with city council ... it was all a little much.
Some time after all this was behind me, I was on a trip up to Monterey, and ended up spending the night in Salinas. It's interesting that in Salinas you see a lot of signs that read "The Birthplace of John Steinbeck", while in Monterey you will see just as many signs that say "The Home of John Steinbeck". Between the two, you soon get the impression that he hightailed it out of Salinas at his first opportunity !
What can you say about Tolkien? His stories have become models for much of our modern fantasy. Although I haven't read any of his books in years, I can honestly say that I enjoyed every one.
When I was twelve and was having trouble falling asleep, my older brother Mark gave me a series of Tolkien novels to read and I was soon reading myself to sleep. Later, while I was working in my dad's store on Summer break from high school, I worked my way through the Silmarillion. This was a big book and a pretty heavy read.
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