Monday, October 24, 2011

Character Book Picks: Richard from Second Hand Heart

We're mixing things up again around here, and instead of just firing off some questions for a character, I've asked Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Second Hand Heart, to tell me what books one of her characters would love. So with that, I bring you guys a little look into the reading choices of Richard!

1) Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger. Yes, he read Salinger when he was much younger. Like most of us. But some of those stories (particularly the one about Bananafish) still resonate in that place Richard is only marginally aware of having. Maybe he wants to be more aware of that place in himself. Maybe that’s why.

2) Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Persig, because it makes him feel calm, and as though the world is okay. As though everything is going to be okay. Even him.

3) The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne. Though it’s difficult to articulate why. But it’s such solid fiction, emotional without a trace of sentiment. And suspenseful. He leans a bit toward the suspense/page-turner type of novel.

4) Primary Colors by Anonymous (who turned out to be Newsweek’s Joe Klein) This is Richard’s kind of humor. He voted for Clinton, of course. He’s not at all right-wing. But that wouldn’t stop him having a laugh at the foibles of that administration.

5) Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein. Which he read in college. And which he barely remembers in much detail now. But he remembers that it taught him to question his own thoughts and perceptions. So he is of the opinion that everybody should read it (not to tell others what to do—he thinks this, he doesn’t go around saying it).

6) Okay, this is hard. It’s hard for me to type this. But…Moby Dick. Okay. I tried twice to read Moby Dick, and failed both times. (And I’m not trying again, either!) I thought it was the most boring book ever. But Richard is a more patient reader than I am. And he enjoyed the adventure of this one.

7) Electric God, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. Well, like I said with Vida’s book picks, these are my characters. So it’s not like they wouldn’t know I exist when choosing their books. Electric God because, like Hayden, Richard has occasionally looked skyward and wondered if somebody up there has it out for him. Then again, who hasn’t?

8) The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Because he was a boy once. Still feels like one sometimes. And he has noticed that about them. And it’s comforting to have someone else notice it, too.

9) Catch-22 by Joseph Heller because it’s subversive and smart and appeals to his sense of irony.

10) The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Which, frankly, I could not get through. But as I say, he is a far more patient reader than I am. In fact, I think he likes a good challenge in the patience department. And this one was soothing to him in a way neither one of us can quite pin down.

Thank you, Catherine, for sharing Richard's choices!

Second Hand Heart is out now, so pick it up and get to know Richard better!

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