05 July 2013

Whose Birthday Is It? Three Favorites

What's with July? So many of the authors I love were born this month that I had a very hard time picking just three to celebrate. I chose an author I first read in college, one I discovered through blogging, and one who entertains me. (Note that this series was started as a regular column for the SheKnows Book Lounge, but will now be posted here.)

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann HesseIf you went to college in the early 1970s, then it's likely you've read almost every novel written by Hermann Hesse. This German-born Nobel laureate is most famous for his prose fiction, but he also wrote poetry, starting from a very young age. Born on July 2, 1877, Hesse lived through both World Wars, spent time in India, and became a Swiss citizen in the 1920s. His cosmopolitan worldview and his exposure to Eastern religions are evident in many of his novels, especially Siddhartha. American baby boomers drank in his Journey to the East and Narcissus and Goldmund, both of which have themes that resonated with youngsters who were seeking answers in nonmaterialistic, non-Western societies. Demian and Steppenwolf look at alternative interpretations of the world around us; the former in spiritual realms and the latter in a magic theater. For my crowd, The Glass Bead Game was the novel we devoured and discussed. It's mysterious, futuristic, kind of utopian, and somewhat intellectual. Although it's my favorite, you might want to start your own Hesse journey with the more accessible Siddhartha.

Kira-Kira by Cynthia KadohataI'm not sure how I discovered Cynthia Kadohata but it was definitely through a blogging connection. Although born in Chicago, Kadohata spent her early youth in the Deep South. Her own experiences as a Japanese American color her work, including the two middle grade books I loved: Weedflower about her father's experiences in an interment camp in Arizona, and Kira-Kira about a Japanese family that relocates from Iowa to Georgia in the postwar years. Her debut novel, The Floating World, has similar themes geared to a young adult audience. In the Heart of the Valley of Love is a futuristic look at Los Angeles written for teens, and her latest book for younger readers is The Thing about Luck, published just last month. No matter your age, I recommend both Kira-Kira, which is a Newbery Medal winner and received the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and Weedflower, which won a PEN USA Award. Wish Kadohata a happy belated birthday; she turned fifty-seven on July 2.

The Black Echo by Michael ConnellyDid you know that Michael Connelly started out as a crime beat reporter for a Daytona Beach newspaper in the early 1980s? No wonder he seems to get the details just right for his award-winning Detective Harry Bosch books, which are set in Los Angeles. His first crime novel was released in 1992, and since then he has written about thirty books, spanning three series. The Bosch books start with The Black Echo, and the latest installment, The Gods of Guilt, is out this year. The five-book series featuring lawyer Mickey Haller, Bosch's half-brother, begins with The Lincoln Lawyer, which was made into a feature film. The protagonist of  a spin-off series is Jack McEvoy, who is a crime reporter and is featured in some of the Bosch books. Connelly has also written a few stand-alone novels centered around people who appear in his series. Connelly has the talent to create recurring characters we love to root for. His plots are compelling, sometimes grizzly, and always entertaining. Celebrate his fifty-seventh birthday on July 21 by picking up The Black Echo.


rhapsodyinbooks 7/5/13, 8:03 AM  

Great choices! And yes, Hesse is so "college" LOL

Amanda 7/5/13, 8:38 AM  

I admit, Herman Hesse still scares me, despite having read Siddhartha a few years ago. i hoped that would help me to get over that fear, but I still haven't picked up anything else. I'm glad to hear the Glass Bead Game is good. I've seen the audio of that one at my library, and wondered if I should pick it up...

bermudaonion 7/5/13, 9:22 AM  

Connelly is the only one I've read. :/

Daryl 7/5/13, 10:17 AM  

never read Hesse, not sure why but i am a HUGE fan of Connelly tho i feel the character traits shared by Mickey and Harry are too strong not to feel like lazy writing .. nevertheless Connelly is always a good read ... now i need to check out Kadohata.. thanks!

Amy 7/5/13, 1:09 PM  

lol I was actually into Hesse in high school we read Steppenwolf, but I'd already read a bunch by then.

Love this post!

Belle Wong 7/5/13, 2:26 PM  

Kira-Kira sounds like a good read - I'll have to add that to my TBR. I've tried a few Bosch novels in audio, but never did finish them - I should probably give them a try in print.

Julie P. 7/5/13, 8:02 PM  

Michael Connelly is one of my absolute favorite authors!

thecuecard 7/5/13, 8:40 PM  

Yes I remember Hesse was so in then! We dissected Siddhartha -- who can forget?! cheers.

Nise' 7/5/13, 11:28 PM  

Yep! I read Hesse in college too.

caite 7/6/13, 5:02 AM  

I must have missed my Hesse phase...but I do like Michael Connelly!

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