Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Deb Caletti

Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and a National Book Award finalist whose YA books—including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; The Queen of Everything; The Secret Life of Prince Charming; The Six Rules of Maybe; Stay; and The Story of Us—are published and translated worldwide. Her novels for adults include He's Gone and The Secrets She Keeps.

Caletti's new new novel for young adults is Essential Maps for the Lost.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Her reply:
Pirate Hunters, by Robert Kurson

While I read quite a lot of literary fiction, story collections, and memoirs, some of my favorite reading feeds a very large part of myself that is, I swear, a ten-year-old boy. To be clear, Robert Kurson’s fabulous Pirate Hunters is for adults. But it’s for adults like me who hunger for a fascinating and page-turning read about true-life adventures. Fellow swashbucklers, I’m telling you - a pirate ship that goes missing in the 1600’s, and the intrepid divers who try to find it today make for a riveting, suspenseful story. I also loved Kurson’s Shadow Divers, about two deep-sea wreck divers who attempt to identify a WWII U-boat.

The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery

I know, I know! Where is the YA? Where are the novels? I told you, bring me anything about nature and science and exploration and adventure. Volcanoes – I’m in! Shipwrecks, yes, please! Creepy, magnificent creatures – absolutely! And it’s a creepy and magnificent creature indeed, which Sy Montgomery brings us in The Soul of an Octopus. Not only is the book a beautifully written story about a woman who enters the universe of this mysterious and alien animal, it’s chock-full of those cool amazing facts that make you want to tug the sleeves of your friends and say, “Hey, do you know what?!” Anyone who reads my books knows that I have a fascination for the intersection of the human and animal worlds, and this book had me awe-inspired.

H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald

In further “intersection of the human and animal world” reading… This gorgeous memoir about grief and the way nature heals. After Helen, a naturalist and falconer, loses her father, she adopts and raises Mabel, a feral goshawk, one of the fiercest predators in the world. This is one of those books that make you feel and think and wonder. It’s all the good, big stuff - life, death, nature, with a delicious hit of something scary-wild in the eyes.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette, by Hampton Sides

This was one of my favorite reads of last year, and I’ve bought lots and lots of copies to give as gifts. How can you not love this book? First of all, look at that title! “Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage”… Is that not awesome right there? And the book continues to be a relentless, frightening, chilling story of survival. Honestly, if you are feeling burdened with the troubles of daily life, if you are slogging through your own personal storm after just breaking up, spilling your mocha, or getting the car repaired again, you will snap right the heck out of it while reading this tale. Storms, starvation, endurance, and ice, ice, ice! Look what humans can conquer! You will also be tempted to wear your parka until the last page, and perhaps even hoard a few boxes of beef jerky. This book kicked off much historic, disaster-at-sea reading for me.

And, speaking of disaster-at-sea books…

Dead Wake, by Erik Larson

I’m a die-hard Erik Larson fan. He can sweep you into a moment in history, make you feel like you are right there, and cause you to breathlessly turn pages to see what is going to happen when you already know what has happened. His book, The Devil in White City, which chronicles the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the serial killer in its midst, stayed with me for years, and it appears that Dead Wake, an account of the sinking of the Lusitania, is going to do the same. The exquisite details make a lasting impression, as does Erik’s rich, masterful writing. How, how, how does he craft such a tense, suspenseful nail-biter, when we are all sadly aware of the outcome? I have no idea, but all through this read, I wished for a different ending. These became real people to me, and the ship was a real ship, and this was no longer an event from history class, but a tragedy that broke my heart. Bonus tip: Don’t skip the footnotes.
Visit Deb Caletti's website and Facebook page.

Coffee with a Canine: Deb Caletti and Tucker.

The Page 69 Test: He's Gone.

--Marshal Zeringue