Let’s be clear: Jane was no angel. She had a short fuse and a foul mouth. In any pro/am-level sayfuckathon between Jane, Robert De Niro, a drill sergeant, and a drunken sailor, the smart money would be on Jane. She could out-profane a platoon of Marines with both of her bird fingers tied behind her back. In fact, when thoroughly enraged, she had no language strong enough to express it, having used it all up in ordinary conversation. Her exclamation of utmost fury was, “That is the outside of enough!”
In case you don’t know, that’s a Regency England expression, which she picked up from Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances. She hooked me on those the summer we worked on campus. Specifically: These Old Shades and The Foundling.
Which leads me to my topic: Books Jane recommended to me that became among my favorites. I certainly can’t list them all. Here are a few.
I believe the Kim Stanley Robinson book she started me on was a book of short stories, but she may also have given me Red Mars. The Mars trilogy (plus companion books) is about the terraforming of — duh — Mars. Medical science has advanced to the point where the people who can afford it can live 1000 years or thereabouts. That means some of the characters continue through the whole series. SPOILER ALERT: They don’t really change much. Since they’re aware they have plenty of time, they aren’t pressed to make the most of the time they have. Profound point, to my mind.
There are only two of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast trilogy, since the third book goes off on a tangent neither of us cared about. She recommended the trilogy when she was dating a guy in SCA who loved it. Years later, when I told her how much I’ve enjoyed it over the years, she said she tried to reread it and couldn’t!
I think Jane read more than this Marjorie M. Liu Hunter Kiss series book, but this is the only one I’ve read. I liked it very much, but I didn’t like the expansion I foresaw in the storyline. One was enough for me. But I really enjoyed that one.
It surprises me that I loved Katie Waitman’s The Merro Tree. I’m not much on reading about hot sex, especially hot acrobatic sex. Hot acrobatic sex between two males of different species seems right out of my wheelhouse. And I tended to skip those bits, because privates are called privates because they’re meant to be private, ‘k’? But the sheer volume of inventiveness in every seam and corner of this book is breathtaking. Every page contained at least one offhand reference to the fabric of this different reality, used so that the meaning or significance was clear without any infodumping. It’s brilliant. Waitman has only published two novels, the other being stand-alone. She’s alive and well, and I hope she eventually publishes more.
There’s a placeholder for Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, because Jane didn’t give me any and I haven’t bought them because
I’m cheap Jane loaned them to me as she bought them. I liked them less as the series went on, with Dresden growing in power and angst. I enjoy the writing, though, so I’d like to read some of his other series.
Among all the other things, I’m going to miss our chatter about books we’ve read and in-jokes about characters who have become parts of our shared life. I’m fortunate to have a lot of bookish friends, even many whose tastes are as wide-ranging as Jane’s. But Jane and Beth were my first such book buddies, and Beth lives too far away for monthly lunches.
–Oh! I ‘most forgot the last book Jane gave me: After the Ice by Steven Mithin. The subtitle is A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC, which pretty much says it all. Great book. Highly recommended.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about five books recommended to you or given or loaned to you.