Thursday, October 14, 2010

Authors Pick Five: Julie Berry

After recently reading and loving her book Secondhand Charm, I knew my next victim of Authors Pick Five would be Julie Berry. Here's her answer to the question:

What five books are most important or influential to you?

What a great question! I appreciate that this doesn’t ask me for favorites, since they’re as many and as varied as my tastes in food. Whatever is in front of me in moment, and yummy, can be my current fave. Influence has more permanence.

1. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. I’m only about halfway through this, but I keep going back to the beginning and starting over because the opening takes my breath away. Saint Augustine of Hippo’s closely analyzed and candidly expressed devotion is music to my soul. It’s also arguably the first foray into memoir and autobiography we have in the Western world, and for its literary merit alone, it’s a treasure.

2. The Histories of Herodotus. Here’s another work I haven’t quite finished. I listened to all I could on audiobook, but had to stop because half the library’s set of cassettes was garbled with heat and age. This gave me such a better perspective and context for understanding ancient writings, from The Iliad and The Odyssey to the Old Testament. What a rich foundation for all stories and storytelling traditions that followed after.

3. Ovid’s Metamorphoses. When I read this in college it made me blush, but I’ve learned so much about story archetypes, about classical mythology, and about oddity in stories from this slim and naughty little book.

4. The works of C. S. Lewis, most notably the Narnia series and Mere Christianity. I’m always interested in where fantasy meets theology. Lewis is one of the people I’m eager to meet in heaven.

5. I’m going to cheat here. The collected works of P.G. Wodehouse, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Jane Austen, and the Bronte sisters. I’ve read many other books I’ve loved that fall outside this roster, but if any one of these had focused on gardening at the expense of writing, I’d be impoverished today. (If, that is, I were somehow to know what I’d missed … one of those time travel snafus. How many other great writers that could have been never were? Hm.)

Julie grew up on a farm, the youngest of seven kids. Now, she lives with her very own family of four boys in Massachusetts and is hard at work fulfilling her writing dream. Julie's second book, Secondhand Charm, just came out this week. I recommend it to you all, especially those that love a fun and unique fairy tale type story. Her first book, The Amaranth Enchantment, is also delightful.  She also has what looks like a very fun series of graphic novels called The Splurch Academy for Disruptive Boys, which is illustrated by her sister, Sally Gardner. How fun is that!? You can learn more about Julie Berry at her official site, and follow her blog here. I look forward to meeting her next week at our library!

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