Though it pains us deeply to acknowledge, we know that many of you are seasonal readers. While there are fanatics out there who devour books à la Henry Bemus in a post-apocalyptic Twilight Zone landscape, some of you save your reading for the summer, the designated season for catching up. With June looming, perhaps you’ll venture — with wide-eyed trepidation — to a bookstore, take a few tentative steps toward the new releases or best sellers shelves.
Maybe you’ll hurriedly snatch books at random based on cover design, or perhaps a 20-percent-off sticker will influence your decision. Or maybe you’ll forgo the stores altogether and upload some “recommended for you” books to your Kindle — selections based on some long-forgotten, used novel you bought on Amazon eons ago. Then again, you might be one of those people with the dreaded, dusty stack of the “intended to read”— those pathetic, lonesome books that sit atop your night stand month after month. The ones you guiltily glance at each night as you tune in to (insert TV show that serves as brain candy here). Yeah, yeah, you’ve always wanted to read Pynchon, you just can’t find the time. This year, before you succumb to your habitual and inadequate devices, may we suggest alternative means of procuring your reads? We discovered a handful of local authors who shared with us not only what they’ve written, but also what some of them are reading.
Oliver B. Williams
The Sand Fly (Studio E, 2010)
Children of the Universe (Kindle)
Gilbert’s Garden (Kindle)
Though Oliver B.Williams’ career and educational path has taken him in many directions — he began studying physics and philosophy at UCLA and ended up with a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from UCSB — the one constant that has prevailed throughout the course of his life has been writing. Whether it be technical, research, essays or fiction, writing has been a passion. He finds Ventura County a constant source of inspiration and loves the sea, the sounds, the fog and quiet. His book The Sand Fly was submitted by his publisher for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. He is currently working on a novel entitled Carbon Cult, which he describes as “a conspiracy theorist’s worst nightmare.” This summer, Oliver is looking forward to reading:
Random Family by Adrian LeBlanc
God: A Biography by Jack Miles
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
Catch -22 by Joseph Heller (an encore read)
Question Your Thinking, Change the World
(Hay House, 2007)
A Thousand Names for Joy
(Three Rivers Press, 2008)
Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2003)
After nearly a decade-long descent into depression, anger and self- loathing, Byron Katie had a moment of clarity — an awakening, if you will. Of that moment she has said, “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that.” A Ventura County resident and bestselling author of several self-help books, Katie’s most recent work, Question Your Thinking, Change the World is a compilation of quotes on topics ranging from love, relationships and sex to death, sickness and self-realization. She guides readers to their own wisdom and sets the stage for them to enact their own awakening.
The Mapping of Love and Death (Harper Perennial, 2011)
Among the Mad (Picador, 2009)
Maisie Dobbs (Penguin Books 2004)
Born and raised in the County of Kent, England award-winning and bestselling author Jacqueline Winspear worked in academic publishing, higher education and marketing communications in the U.K. long before she began her writing career. After arriving in the U.S. in 1990 she finally decided to pursue her life-long dream of becoming a writer. Since then she has contributed to many journals on international education, published articles in many women’s magazines, and recorded essays for KQED radio in San Francisco. She is best known for her acclaimed Maisie Dobbs mystery series, which follows young Maisie throughout the late-1920s and early-1930s, as she makes the rise from domestic servant to private investigator. A fun read for adults and adolescents alike.
There’s a Huge Pimple on My Nose
3 A.M. (iUniverse, Inc., 2005)
Dancing With the Pen (iUniverse, 2011)
This self-published author wrote her first book, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, in the fifth grade. It was a 40-page collection of stories and poems that received enthusiastic reviews. Just out of high school, she published her second book of short fiction, 3 a.m. She has also published numerous articles. She feels strongly that writing “can connect people, foster understanding and be a sort of celebration.” Dallas is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in fiction writing at Purdue University but says she has taken Ventura with her in her heart and in her writing as well. Her summer picks:
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
A Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oates
Mr. Woodburn, father of Dallas, writes a weekly general interest column on the op-ed page every Saturday for the Ventura County Star in addition to The Daily Breeze in Torrance. He’s earned many national writing awards and has written numerous stories and essays for several publications such as Chicken Soup for the Soul, the Los Angeles Times op-ed pages, and Sporting News. He co-authored Raising Your Child to be a Champion in Athletics, Arts and Academics with Wayne Bryan and is currently working on a memoir. For him, writing is something that can be wonderful and necessary or “bloody hard” but it is always fulfilling. Of Ventura County, he says he believes that most writers would dream of living here, the only drawback being the many distractions that pull writers away from their keyboards, such as escaping to the beach.
This summer Woody plans on reading 10 old-fashioned bound books (read: not electronic). They include:
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
The Social Animal by David Brooks
Greater Journey by David McCullough
Sun Tzu at Gettysburg by Bevin Alexander
Dallas and Woody Woodburn will be speaking at the June 14 meeting of the Ventura County Writers Club to discuss writing topics that can lead to publication. The meeting will begin promptly at 7 p.m. at the club’s new meeting place, the Pleasant Valley Senior Center in Camarillo. The public is welcome at all meetings, which are free.