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Editorial February 2002
Book Tasting
By Hilary Williamson

I don't know about you, but my reading palate changes through moods and seasons, just as my eating preferences do. And books come for all tastes, from light and fluffy soufflis such as Jenny Colgan's recent Talking to Addison to multi-flavored repasts that take time to digest, like Connie Willis's speculative Passage or Marly Youman's historical The Wolf Pit.

Though omnivorous in my reading habits, I tend to have a lazy palate that leads me to look for books that entertain rather than edify. I'll happily sample nettle pie in the slums of ancient Rome with informer Marcus Didius Falco in Lindsey Davis' hilarious historical mysteries, take a roller coaster ride for chills and thrills with Alex Cross in a James Patterson thriller, cheer on space marines as they lob their peculiar missiles in Ian Douglas' Heritage Trilogy, or enjoy fast-paced action in one of David Gemmell's gripping fantasies of Ancient Britain.

But variety is the spice of reading life and there are times when something meatier is called for, books whose insights and turns of phrase linger in memory for much longer than those we pick up for quick, fun reads ... thought-provoking books like Matthew Kneale's English Passengers, Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, Laurie King's Folly, Eliot Pattison's Water Touching Stone, or Iain M. Banks' Look to Windward. They're not as fast going down and take longer to digest, but the reward is an ongoing stimulation of ideas; nutrition for the mind.

So don't stint on books by writers who excel at entertainment. But, to all those who suffer like me from lazy reading habits, I recommend adding to these old favorites a varied diet of new authors across the genre groups. Dip in on your own or set up a Book Tasting group to share the experience, one that's guaranteed to be good for the soul ...

The sunshine greets me with a smile.
The rain, his sad sister, talks to my heart.

(From Stray Birds by Rabindranath Tagore)

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