More than a year after the publication of Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens’ first novel is still winning over new fans.
Owens made her name more than 30 years ago with Cry of the Kalahari, the book she wrote with her former husband about their years living in the African wilderness and studying the animals there. As Owens told the Amazon Book Review earlier this year, her mother encouraged her from a young age to go into the forest as far as she could: “Go way out yonder where the crawdads sing.” A deep connection to the land shines through all of Owens’ books, both fiction and nonfiction.
We asked Owens what books she’d read and loved lately, and her picks also reflect a love of nature and adventure.
Delia Owens’ favorite reads of 2019
A Sudden Country: A Novel by Karen Fisher
I love to read words that inspire writing. The very first phrases of A Sudden Country stirred my imagination with sharp images and a racing heart. Fisher’s tangible prose is jarring one moment and lyrical the next, and leads the reader on a subtle collision course of two opposing characters as they journey on horseback or wagon across the Oregon Trail. The wild natural setting doesn’t lie quietly as a backdrop, but pushes its harsh, boney shoulders into the story. I reread her book for the third time, just as one returns to favorite poems and old friends.
Exit West: A Novel by Mohsin Hamid
Hamid’s writing is so precise that you picture and feel the detailed decisions of these migrants’ forced journey. All seems logical and factual, until doors open to unexpected passages and a slow, sinister realization sets in that something familiar is moving beneath you. Reading this book may be the essential first step to ensure that your boots are not forced down this road. I loved it because the imagining that swells in the futurist scenes mimics the very thoughts I have seen very clearly in my own mind. And know might come.
West with the Night: A Memoir by Beryl Markham
Again, it’s the language that brings me back to this book. Just like one of its zebras returning to a waterhole on a dusty savanna, I have to drink it again. In today’s world, we champion powerful women; Markham, in the early 1900s, simply lived the proof. Her words fly us over Africa’s remoteness in her own little plane, landing us on distant sands, rescuing other pilots. Navigating by wildebeest. And then, just because she can, she becomes the first woman to fly solo east to west across the Atlantic. But her adventures are not why I read the book; I read it for its heart.
Author photo by Dawn Marie Tucker
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