Saturday, January 31, 2009

Zanna's gift, Orson Scott Card, and "most read" authors

Today I got Zanna's Gift from the library and read it in a few hours. It is a very short book, a sad and touching story. It was written by Orson Scott Card under the pen name Scott Richards. It is unlike Card's other work in that there is no fantasy or supernatural element, but I could easily recognize his writing style and the way his characters interact. I enjoyed it very much, and it made me miss things from when my own family was closer. I believe some of the details of this story were autobiographical, which made it more poignant. This is definitely not the sort of thing I usually read, but looked it up because I read all of Card's books, and I'm glad I did.

With this, I have read 44 books by Orson Scott Card, more than I've read by anyone else. I suppose I got to it a little late, but my 12th grade English teacher...a truly amazing educator named Mr. Bennett...gave me Ender's Game. From there I looked up all books by Orson Scott Card I could find. I know I worked through the Alvin Maker stories and the Homecoming books, as well as the Women of Genesis books after my mother read Sarah. The independant books might be my favorite. I loved Homebody and Lost Boys (also patly autobiographical). I remember reading Enchantment as a college freshman since it was in the new release section. I also got my own copy of that and Treasure Box at a time when I was a lonely kid, in my own apartment for the first time with no TV :-p

I finally got to meet Mr. Card when he gave a lecture at my college a few years ago. It was over the summer and I discovered it mostly by accident checking out something else on the site...but there he was, giving a talk at (strangely enough) a conference on dreaming. I have to confess I thought the conferencees were a bunch of loony toons. Guys in long robes, and people hawking crystals and pillows to help you dream more powerfully...weird. But Mr. Card gave a lecture on the use of dreams in literature. It was over an hour long, and in a stifling hot auditorium...but I was riveted. He is a great lecturer, and if you get a chance I highly recommend getting out to listen to him.

After the talk, he was signing autographs. Having recently discovered I loved writing fiction, I got copies of his books Character and Vewpoint and How to Write Sciece Fiction and Fantasy. When I brought them up to be signed, he asked if I was a writer, and from there gave me some great advice. I was impressed he took the time to do that in a busy line with his limo waiting outside :-p But it's the kind of thing that makes him a memorable person, not just a great writer.

Anyway, I keep a tally of my "most read" authors. Here are the ones I've read at least 10 by:

Orson Scott Card - 44
Robert A. Henlein - 37
Joe Haldeman - 25
Michael Crichton - 18
Poul Anderson - 18
William Shakespeare - 17 plays, plus some poetry
Timothy Zahn - 14
Isaac Asimov - 14
Patrick F. McManus - 13
Robert Jordan - 12
Tanya Huff - 12

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