There are some authors - very few - that make me want to buy all their works. Some convince me of their genius for a while, like Salman Rushdie with Midnight's Children, and then I read one of their more human books and I give up on completing the series. Some convince me only in one genre - Neil Stephenson is stupendously good when he does historical fiction, but I just can't get into his fantasy stuff. Then there are some that I keep going back to when I want a sure thing - like John Irving, but then doesn't everyone?
One of the few authors I haven't ever enjoyed less is Irvin D. Yalom. I got quite excited today, starting one of his books. It may well be finished tomorrow.
(These are the books I could find immediately - I think I have another one at least.)
Yalom is a psychotherapist and psychiatrist, who writes both fiction and non-fiction about his experiences with his clients. For someone like me, who went through psychotherapy for a few years, it is fascinating to read about the experiences of "the other side." When I was in therapy, my therapist often seemed like a closed book. I longed to know what was going on inside her mind and her soul, but she wouldn't give much away. Because Yalom writes from the perspective of the therapist, he gives at least a possible answer to my questions. Yalom shows how human therapists are, and how humanly they react to their clients. He also knows how to tell a story, obviously, and sticks to the point. (I hate a meandering novelist - long descriptions of the exact colour of the sky will make me scream and throw the book across the room.)
I discovered Yalom during one of my longer breaks from therapy, and completely fell in love with the first book I read. Then when I went back to see my therapist after a while, it turned out she had one of his handbooks, Existential Psychotherapy, on her bookshelf. I must have been staring at this name every week for a couple of years, so it was no coincidence that I picked up his book from the bargain shelf at the bookshop.
I adore the subjects Yalom decides to write about - psychology, obviously, but also philosophy and death. Another thing I love about him is that I recommended his work to An, our resident philosopher-psychologist, and she was bowled over, too. We are normally completely incompatible when it comes to books, so extra brownie points for him.
Anyway - I just thought I would share this, as a reading tip for anyone looking for a gripping summer read. It's a bonus if you've been in therapy, but I don't think it's necessary. He's easy to read, will satisfy a basic human desire to eavesdrop on other people's quirks, while at the same time making you think about life, death and all that comes with it. (Without getting difficult or heavy handed. He reads like a train, honestly.)