Recently I asked Saunders about what she was reading. Her reply:
I have been reading War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation) since June, a few pages a day. I’m on page 989 now, with a half-inch of the book still to go, so it's almost like the Napoleonic wars are happening in real time.Visit Adelia Saunders's website.
For a while I was reading War and Peace aloud to my kids at bedtime to try to make them go to sleep, but lately they’ve opted for the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, which, like War and Peace has some harrowing scenes of destruction. (War and Peace, p. 915: "What's burning?" asked Natasha. "Ah, yes, Moscow…"; Captain Underpants and the Big, Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy, Part I, p. 162: “Suddenly there was a terrific explosion. The Bionic Booger Boy burst into three huge chunks of glistening snot and twisted metal…”)
Most of the reading I do right now is to my children, and I’ve had the pleasure of discovering some great books I somehow missed when I was growing up. My daughter and I are in the middle of the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. They were written in the 1940s about the adventures of two girls growing up in rural Wisconsin around the turn of the century. They are funny and exciting and at times unexpectedly serious, and they make the little vignettes of childhood -- like an illicit haircut or an afternoon left alone in the kitchen -- into scenes of high drama and hilarity.
For myself, I’ve recently discovered audiobooks. I listen to them while I clean, which means that the house is tidy when I’ve found a good one. I’m currently on The Life of the World to Come by Dan Cluchey, narrated by Scott Merriman. I listened to two Marilynne Robinson books this summer, Gilead and Home, narrated by Tim Jerome and Maggi-Meg Reed, respectively. Their voices served the writing so well, I can’t imagine I would have enjoyed these books any more in printed form. Another favorite I’ve listened to recently is Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski, narrated by Ben Williams. It’s a story about politics and corruption in Haiti, and made for some very clean floors.
Finally, I’m reading a book called A Land Alone: Colorado’s Western Slope. It’s a history of the place I grew up, written by Colorado historians Duane Vandenbusche and Duane A. Smith. I’ve been inching my way through it for months in between other projects. As a kid, I found local history incredibly boring – steam trains, mining towns, apologetic accounts of forcing the Native Americans onto ever-lousier reservations. But now, with time and distance between me and home, I’m finding it very interesting to learn the history of a place I thought I knew.