Jim Landwehr enjoys writing creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. His first book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir was published by eLectio Publishing in June. His non-fiction has appeared in Neutrons/Protons, Parody Magazine, Boundary Waters Journal, Forge Journal, and MidWest Outdoors Magazine. His poetry has been featured in Verse Wisconsin, Torrid Literature Journal, Wisconsin People and Ideas Magazine, Off the Coast Poetry Journal, and many others. Jim works as a geographic information systems analyst for the Waukesha County Department of Parks and Land Use. He lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin with his wife Donna, and their children Sarah and Ben. You can learn more about Jim on his website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
To be completely unbiased about what is really next to my bed, I gathered up ten books that were on or under my bedside table. My wife and I are voracious readers, so there are always books in our bedroom. She has a Kindle as well, which I have tried, but cannot embrace. Don’t be a hater—I’m old school.
To the books:
Sex Lives of Cannibals, by J. Maarten Troost is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. Don’t let the racy title scare you off. This book details the trials of the author and his wife as they try to live the “simple life” off the grid on a remote atoll in the Pacific. His descriptions of the smells and the foods and the inconveniences of the simple life are brilliant.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, by Jonas Jonasson was given to me by a friend who said he and his father had both enjoyed it. I didn’t know what to expect; it turned out to be one of the better surprise reads I’ve ever had. The author builds a great man on-the-lam story when the main character decides to escape from a nursing home on the eve of his 100th birthday. The ensuing chronicle of the centenarian’s life resembles that of Forrest Gump, only better. He encounters several historical fiends, leaders and notables including Hitler, Stalin and Einstein’s little-known half-brother, Herbert Einstein. A wonderful romp around the world in 100 years.
Visiting Tom and From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio, by Wisconsin’s own Michael Perry. This guy is a current favorite of mine. I can’t get enough of his stuff. Good humor woven into descriptive memoir. In Visiting Tom, he tells about his neighbor, a retired farmer and old time cannon maker, among other skills. There is one chapter where he describes sitting in Tom’s kitchen in rural Wisconsin and by the end of the scene I felt like I was sitting there with the two of them. You could smell the smells and hear the sounds, the signs of a great read. From the Top is story snippets from a radio show broadcast from underneath a big tent in Chatauqua Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior. Fun short stories as told by Mike at the mike.
Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey. I just started this book last night, but I can tell it’s going to be good. I’ve heard so much about it and the challenges it puts to the traditional male-headship of the church. It’s my latest thing, reading edgy books that shake up traditional Christian thought, books like Rob Bell’s Love Wins, Insurrection by Peter Rollins and others. Jesus Feminist comes with high recommendations from friends both male and female, so I can’t wait to get into it.
Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America, The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar. Brautigan is a favorite from way back and I keep this collection at my bedside for when I need a good laugh before bed. His description and narrative is quirky and unlike anything I’ve ever read. How many other authors could describe a trout stream by using phone booths? I consider this required reading for anyone who wants to challenge traditional writing protocol. Whimsical fun.
Gathering the Harvest, by Mary Jo Balistreri. This is a poetry collection from a local Wisconsin author. I heard her read at an event and was taken away by her words. This collection describes her struggles with health and her love of classical music. It is for those nights when I am too tired to read more than a poem or two.
Across Many Mountains is Yangzom Brauen‘s Tibetan memoir passed on to me by my wife. I started it, got sidetracked, and hope to get back to it one day. My wife had good things to say about it, but did mention that it takes some effort to get through it.
And so there you have it, the ever-changing book collection next to my bed. My wife’s collection is entirely different, though occasionally she sends a particularly engaging book my way, as was the case with Jesus Feminist. I wish I had more time to read, but at the moment I’m preoccupied with promoting my own book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir, which of course, should be on every bedside table.
Always nice to see writers supporting hometown word mongers. Who’s your local fave?