Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ashley Ream

Ashley Ream got her first job at a newspaper when she was 16. After working in newsrooms across Missouri, Florida and Texas, she gave up the deadlines to pursue fiction. Her debut novel, Losing Clementine, which sold at auction, was a Barnes & Noble debut pick and a Sutter Home Book Club pick. She and her books have appeared in L.A. Weekly, Los Angeles Magazine, Bust Magazine, the Kansas City Star and Marathon & Beyond Magazine. She lives in Los Angeles where she works at a nonprofit, runs ultramarathons and is finishing her next novel.

A couple of weeks ago I asked Ream what she was reading.  Her reply:
We’re alike, you and I. Yep, you there on the other side of the screen. We read a lot. Nearly everything. Not quite everything because neither of us is going in for fifty shades of anything, but we’re down for nearly anything else. That does make it hard when you’re asked to write about what you read because you can’t just type “damn near everything” and walk away. It makes people testy. So here are a few books I’ve enjoyed recently, one from each category of reading I do. (That’s right. Category. I put thought into this, dammit.)

The Oh-My-God-I-Will-Never-Be-This-Good Book

Arcadia by Lauren Groff

Some writers just knock my socks off. They knock them off and pick them up and slap me about the face with them. Groff is one of those, and Arcadia is her best book, which is saying something. The story follows Bit Stone, the first child born to Arcadia, a hippie commune in rural New York state, from the 1960s into a quasi-dystopian near future. Whether her character is a small child, a teenager or a grown man, Groff still gets the voice just exactly right. The setting is vivid, and the plot is powerful. It’s the sort of book that drives other writers to drink and despair and then, if we’re lucky, spurs us to work harder.

The Just-for-Fun Book

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Someone – I can’t remember who or I would give them credit – told me about the term “comfort reading.” I like that. It honors what this kind of book does for me without making it sound less worthy of discussion. This is the kind of book I read when I want to escape. A fair bit of it was read in the bath. (Somebody remind me to buy more lavender bubbles.) A Discovery of Witches, the first in a planned trilogy, has – well – witches, also vampires and time travel and alchemy. I won’t be the first person to call it Harry Potter for adults, but it’s the best analogy. So we’re going with it.

Non-Fiction Bedtime Book

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

I always read non-fiction before bed. I have no particularly good reason for this. I just do. Some things we have to accept. Bill Bryson is a favorite – this book in particular.

The title is apt. The book covers nearly every scientific discipline you can think of, and in a pinch, it’s big enough to bludgeon that annoying neighbor with the yappy dog who won’t shut up at 1 a.m. Not that I’ve done this. (They can’t prove anything.)
Visit Ashley Ream's website.

--Marshal Zeringue