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Sonoma County authors offer book suggestions for 2012

  • Illustration for what writers are reading story.

    Note: Credit/photo illustration by John Burgess

People who write books are a diverse lot. It's hard to come up with a common trait that applies to all writers, but one comes close: Most writers also read a lot.

Winter is here, the perfect time to curl up in an armchair by the fireplace with a good book. So we asked some Sonoma County authors to tell us about the books they've been reading this season.

Nationally known poet and teacher Dana Gioia of Santa Rosa, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, figures he owns 10,000 books, but four current titles get his recommendation for cold-weather reading.

"This is actually the only time in years that I'm reading four brand-new books. I'm usually reading books that are so obscure that nobody's ever heard of them, and people think I'm just being perverse by saying I'm reading a 73-year-old Romanian novel or something."

Not this time. He just finished "The Marriage Plot," by Jeffrey Eugenides, Pulitzer Prize winner in 2002 for "Middlesex."

"This is a new novel about a group of students at Brown University in the '80s, who graduate and go on to have various romantic troubles. It's a book that's being much talked about right now," Gioia said.

"Just before that, I finished a new novel by Ron Hansen called &‘A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion,' which lives up to its title, I must say. It's based on an actual, wildly scandalous murder that happened in the '20s."

Right now, Gioia is about a third of the way through "Civilization" by Niall Ferguson.

"He's one of the great living historians. This is a book about the rise and imminent decline of the West in world economics and world politics. He thinks China is the emerging civilization, and Europe and America are the declining ones," Gioia said.

Next up: a change of pace with "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman.


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