This & That… and What Books to Read Next

An innocuous post this one is, a chockfull of a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Hint. Hint. I'm over here holding up this neon (highway-mast wattage) strobe light over books promising fierce pacing, and unforgettable stories, that stuff I hear readers clamor to get their eyes glued on.

I just finished reading Tempest Rising by Diane Whetstone. Read the book in a few days too, and now it is comfortably situated right up there on my Keeper Shelf.

Ms. Whetstone really did her thing writing those characters. Every last one of them holds a note—as in singing note—, falling right in line with this tune; resilient writing and a rich premise—exercising and wrestling with those inner demons. Seriously, reading just doesn't get any better than Tempest Rising.

But before Tempest Rising, I read Are You Happy Now by Richard Babcock, another type of novel that ultimately made for pleasant reading. Not to compare the two, though it's exactly what's about to happen here; both novels contained what I'm calling natural conflict. And so Babcock's novel was a little on the light side, and Whetstone's on the dark weighty side, both still had me turning pages, rather easily. Well, I turned them a little, or how about a lot faster in Tempest Rising. I mean, can a title be more fitting?

Short & sweet, clashes and struggles contained in stories that rise and settle normally is what I call natural conflict. It's the difference between stories riding elaborate waves to force that page-turning effect, versus stories canvassing natural waves and still achieving that fierce pacing I prefer.

Take my word for it, readers who revere closing books and feeling relatively in one piece after having done so, will jump for joy over the two I just finished reading. But now I'm up in the air trying to figure out what to read next. This is the worst thing about reading good books; likely the cause for how some are lured away from natural conflict, to ride them tidal waves reading that other conflict.

As spelled out somewhere here on my blog before, reading books of any great propensity, especially back to back, means (for me) the next one has to one up the last one, by at least one notch, except here's my dilemma. I'm no fool. There are risks associated with wanting more… more… more. You end up going up, up, up to find out the sky really does have a limit. So maybe I don't want the next book I read to one up anything. I think what I'm looking for is something that is just as good as...

I have my eye on at least 20 books that might suit the bill. The idea here is to get a good mix, some balance going.

Those at the top of my wish list are… Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters and Between You and Me: A Memoir by Mike Wallace. Me and these two go way back. No, they don't know me from Adam, and really, other than both being two of my favorite journalists, I don't know them either. But I sure hope that changes.

The Black Russian by Vladimir Alexandrov was listed on Amazon's site in the Black History category. Soon as I saw the title I thought 'WT---' and thought maybe I better read this one.

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang, and A Child Called "It": One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer grabbed me as well.

I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story by Michael Hastings and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman I want to try, and I'm really contemplating this snazzy title here… In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.

"I could very well be like most, who invest in reading to either be holistically uplifted, or thoroughly entertained. But don't write your story for 'us', second-guessing on what 'we' might, and might not like. Write it for you… to allow for that genuine spiritual connection to happen.”