Monday, February 9, 2009

Lisa Yee

Lisa Yee is the creative director of Magic Pencil Studios and the author of Millicent Min: Girl Genius, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, and So Totally Emily Ebers.

Her latest book, Absolutely Maybe, is her first young adult title.

Recently I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've usually got a couple of books going on at once. I tend to listen to non-fiction on my iPod when I'm on the road, and read fiction when I'm on the elliptical machine. (This guarantees me at least an hour of exercise a day, if not more if I get caught up in a book.)

In the fiction category, I've just finished Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I loved her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, and when I heard Melissa Banks on NPR imploring people to pick up Olive Kitteridge I was intrigued.

Why didn't I read this sooner?!!! Strout has managed to take an brittle, negative woman and make you sympathize with her. The book is a series of interwoven short stories with the unlikely heroine, Olive, being the main link. I marvel at how Strout's sometimes spare dialogue can say so much. The underlying thread of unhappiness draws you along, and if you feel you know Strout's characters, you probably do. Any one of them could be your friend, relative or neighbor. Before you know what hit you, Strout has managed to create intimacies that are neither forced nor false. If you're looking for great character studies, this is the book to get.

The book I am listening to right now is The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. The other day I mistakenly told someone I was listening to Jimmy Buffet's biography. Whoops. Totally wrong Buffet.

What I am enjoying so much about Snowball is that master financier (Warren) Buffet's story is not just one of wheeling and dealing, but rather of an a odd little boy who grew up to be a powerful (and still odd) man. Author Alice Schroeder has a breezy writing style and even the high finance sections are easy to digest. But what she has done best is to make Buffet human. He seems like just a regular guy, albeit a genius. This is not just a great book about money and how one man amassed so much of it, it's great storytelling.

Oh! And one last thing. I am also reading The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I enjoyed Coraline, and am looking forward to the animated film, but had not read anything else by him. (I usually don't do scary.) However, since this is a newly minted Newbery winner I thought I should give it a try.
Learn more about Lisa Yee at her website, The Lisa Yee Blog, her MySpace page, and the new Absolutely Maybe MySpace page.

--Marshal Zeringue