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Sat, Dec. 07

Nothing like a rainy day and a good book<BR>

What is it about rainy days that is so conducive to curling up with a good book? The fact that the flickering, off-again on-again electricity, in addition to wreaking havoc on all motors great and small, definitely puts one out of the computer business of course has something to do with it. But I think it is a far deeper, more primal thing than that.

As a child, if bad weather drove you indoors, books were your pathway to anywhere you wished to go. The comfort and security of a bed-time story. Escape from reality during those troubled adolescent years. Why, even in prehistoric times, I'll bet it was during stormy weather that cave man wrote and read the petroglyphics on the cliff and cavern walls.

In our house, we are very eclectic readers, devouring anything and everything that comes along. But there are those authors we enjoy enough to actively seek out, and to hold for future re-reads. Which led me to wonder what the personal libraries of friends and neighbors contain. Do you all prefer fiction or non-fiction? Historical or today? Familiar settings or exotic? Lots of dialog, or more narrative? Do you read with your children and grandchildren? Do you enjoy giving and getting books as gifts?

Is there anyone among us who does not like Tony Hillerman? His knowledge of and love for the Navajo and neighboring tribes is self-evident, and he always weaves a wonderful story around them. We have learned much tribal lore in the process of enjoying Leaphorn and Chee's adventures. Yes, we have a complete collection of Hillerman, fiction and non-fiction, and even "The Boy Who Made Dragonfly," which he wrote especially for children.

My personal all-around favorite is Heather Graham, who can write believably about today or times past, and put you right there with her characters. Whether in Scotland's tempestuous past, Civil War times, or today in the Florida keys or an Irish pub in Boston, you lose yourself in the story and resent being pulled back out of it by mundane things like deadlines or dinner. Alibris has a standing order to send me anything new she brings out, under any pseudonym. She is in good company on my bookshelves with Nora Roberts, Fern Michaels, Catherine Coulter, Mary Stewart, Jean Auel, and of course Mary Higgins Clark.

Bobby's tastes (and I have no problem raiding his bookshelves either!) run more to John Grisham, Lawrence Sanders, James Patterson, Sidney Sheldon, Larry McMurty, and of course Louis L'Amour. I am also acquiring the Sue Grafton series. I probably started that because I appreciate always knowing which is next in the series, written alphabetically as they are; but have developed quite an attachment for Kinsey Millhone and her cohorts along the way.

And now my Aunt Annette has introduced me to a brand new (to me) author, J.A. Jance. How did I miss this lady for so long? Of course her Joanna Brady mysteries are my favorites. I mean, a lady sheriff in Arizona, even if it is the "wrong" county? What's not to like? She writes about country that is obviously familiar to her, has done her research well, and keeps you turning pages all the way through. All with warmth and humor written in. Totally believable characters - you feel like they are your next-door neighbors.

That is but the tip of the iceberg in our reading material. I would love to hear about yours. Any new authors you would like for us to know about? Or old favorites rediscovered? It would be interesting to know what the local population reads. It may be true that you can't judge a book by its cover, but I think you CAN judge a reader by his choice of books!

(Peggy Swycaffer is a longtime Cordes Lakes resident. Reach her at swycamel@mindspring.com)

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