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Books I Love

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While I study the important journals and books from the field, I also like to read for fun.  Among my favorite books of all time include The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien which I've read about 15 times.  One class I taught while teaching at the University of Arizona required my student to read the "prequel" to the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and to examine the context surrounding the text.  For example, some of my students researched how Tolkien's life had an effect on his writing.  When one considers that Tolkien fought in the trenches in France during WWI, it gives a reader a deeper understanding of his views on warfare.  It is possible to picture Tolkien as Bilbo Baggins during the battle of the 5 armies.

Among modern Science Fiction authors, one of my favorites is Alan Dean Foster, who I consider to be a vastly underrated and underappreciated scifi bard.  The majority of his books take place in a future universe of his creation (The Commonwealth) populated by humans and a number of other intelligent species.  One of the main characters in these books is named Flinx, who was the subject of illegal genetic manipulation as a child--resulting in a boy who has now matured into a man with "unusual" powers.   The real brilliance of Foster's books is that all of them (now more than 25 books), whether they involve Flinx or not, have connecting themes, including a vast evil that threatens (maybe soon, maybe in thousands of years) our galaxy.  I suppose one of the things I've loved about the Flinx series is that this character as grown up as I have, with the first book involving Flinx, The Tar-Aiym Krang, coming out in 1972, when I was a mere lad of 7 years old.  

While I read a lot of Fantasy and Science Fiction, I'm also a big fan of mysteries, and particularly of historical fiction.  Some of my favorites include work by Lindsey Davis, who writes a great series about Marcus Didius Falco, a Roman ‘informer’ in 70AD.  I believe this series is currently up to about 17 books, the first being The Silver Pigs, and they are all wonderfully entertaining. 

Another great series that also involves an Ancient Roman detective is the series by Steven Saylor.  The detective in this set is named Gordianus the Finder and there are now over ten books in this series as well.

Some more recently placed series that I love include a couple British "cozy" mysteries.  Cozy mysteries, for those not familiar with them, are the types of stories written by authors like Agatha Christie that are nice books to read around a cozy warm fire.  Many of them, including the ones I love take place in small English villages, although it is certainly possible to write a American Cozy as well.  Two of the series that I've just finished and greatly enjoy are actually written by the same author:  M.C. Beaton (actual name Marion Chesney).  The first of these series involves a Scottish officer by the name of Hamish Macbeth, who lives the the Northern village of Lochdubh. 

The second series by Beaton has Agatha Raisin as the main character.  Agatha Raisin is, in many ways, a thoroughly disagreeable character who retired from her London public relations firm at a "young" age and moved to a village in the Cotswolds, where she stumbles into a number of crimes that need solving. 

I'm always in search of new series to read, so if you've read some you've loved send a note my way a clue me in!