Seems like several Sunday Salon members haven’t been feeling great. I’m one of them. I got really sick with the flu two Fridays ago and can finally say I’ve recovered. During that time, I read the first two installments of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series that’s primarily based in Scotland in the 18th century and later moves across the Atlantic to colonial America – Cross Stitch (Outlander in the US) and Dragonfly in Amber after having read book #6 in the series, A Breath of Snow and Ashes. Each has been close to 1000 pages but I’ve devoured every one and am now on book #3 Voyager.

The series is one of the richest stories I’ve ever read full of characters who I’ve come to really care for because every aspect of their lives is so wonderfully described. Even “brainy guy” Gavin McNett of Salon Books got hooked.

…the first thing you notice about “Outlander,” long before the castles-and-moors part starts to kick in, is that it’s a carefully written book, with three-dimensional characters inhabiting a complex, believable world. The people in “Outlander” seem to have lives. The story seems light-handed and plausible. Events seem to happen for reasons and not simply to push the plot forward. The second thing you notice, just as the book turns into quicksand and pulls you under with a big, wet slurp, is that it does all the standard historical-romance tropes spectacularly backwards and wrong.

david wenhamIt would be amazing to see the Outlander series made into a TV mini-series! I would pick Catherine Zeta-Jones to be the lead character, Claire. Don’t know who I would choose to play her love, Jamie. One Outlander reader suggests David Wenham who played Faramir in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I’d have to say he looks pretty good!

Now that my brain appears to be functioning again, however, I’ve also returned to some more serious reading and have resumed Social Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. Perhaps it will give me better insight into my complex 5-year-old and his relationship with the others.

I bet illness wouldn’t stop the most prolific reader I know. Frumiousb asked some interesting questions in a couple of past Sunday Salon posts that I wanted to respond to:

1) What books do you like to bring on airplanes?

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve been able to read on planes again since Stephen can now occupy himself better. Generally, I like to bring books that don’t require a great deal of concentration and that can be easily interrupted. Short story anthologies are great in this respect. I found one of my favorite short story collections at the Vancouver airport in May 2001 – Dropped Threads edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson. I was lucky because it’s only published in Canada and I probably would have never stumbled upon it otherwise. And on my last trip to Singapore, I read A Forever Family by John Houghton and Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.

2) Do you have any experiences with public reading?

I’m fairly careful about the types of books I bring out with me because I want to give a certain impression of myself. Much like the way I arranged my CD collection back in college. ;) I typically bring New Scientist or The Atlantic magazines with me when I go out. If I do bring a book, which is a bigger commitment because they’re so heavy, I bring non-fiction that demonstrate my braininess. hahaa I’ve never had anyone ask me about what I’m reading nor initiated a conversation with anyone about what they’re reading in public. Reading choice seems so personal that I don’t feel comfortable asking or commenting on what other people read.

What about you?