Home > Life, Mentors, Work-related, Writing and Poetry > Pleasure Reading That Teaches

Pleasure Reading That Teaches

Recently I’ve been re-reading a favorite series of mine: “The Cat Who…” series by Lilian Jackson Braun. The best-selling author is a favorite with many readers and for many of the same reasons.

Braun wrote characters that leaped from the page, wrestled the reader to the floor, and came away with a life-long commitment to light mystery, love for the backwoods country, and a passion for quirky people and quirkier places. That’s no small feat in our world of fickle reading habits.

There’s nothing complicated about Braun’s work in this series, not really. It only gets complicated when the reader is also a writer who tries to analyze her style and capacity for subplot design and execution. The problem that arises in this instance is that the writer quickly becomes so involved in the story and characters that pausing to analyze anything becomes compromised.

One of the specific tools that Braun uses is a love of language that many authors seem hesitant to use. She’ll have one or more characters speaking in a local dialect that holds little in common with the normal English language at the same time that she has another character or two using vocabulary that English majors with a Master’s degree have to look up for definitions.

For those who’ve not read this woman’s series be sure to keep a good dictionary handy while reading. You’ll never be sure what kind of word will pop up on some obscure page about half-way through the book. At the same time, keep a small notebook to hand with a good ball point so that you can write down the literary recommendations from the author.

There are always several classics referenced and quoted during a book. My list has become a tangled illustration of my reading future.

Braun weaves fanciful tales, with memorable characters, and packages it all in a setting that clamors for new residents or summer visitors from Down Below. If you take on this reading challenge, you’ll undoubtedly wish for a map and weeks of leisure so that you, too, can travel to Moose County for the lake air and the invigorating country atmosphere.

If you’re a writer, you’ll find stand-alone volumes of the series that engage and puzzle. These aren’t written as masterpieces or even great literary prose. They are, however, fun and whimsical, which transport the reader to a more fun environment where problems get solved, people live—while not in harmony—with respect for the county’s history and that of the founding families.

If you’re not a writer, enjoy the stories for the antics of the Siamese cats who solve the mysteries before they’re discovered, who know the murderers before anyone else can point the finger, and who eat better than most people on an unlimited budget.

When you’ve read one or more of these volumes, you will come away with new knowledge from a well-researched manuscript. Braun doesn’t throw out anything, no bit of knowledge that can be used to create an interesting character with a twist, a flaw, a fascinating tidbit to share. You’ll learn about foods from all over the country, hobbies that you wouldn’t consider before, Scottish history and how to wear a kilt, and other useful info.

All of this and a story, too, comes in a compact book that never leaves you wanting for detail. Take one out for a spin and see if you don’t go back for more. Follow the main character, Jim Qwilleran, as he moves from one mysterious adventure to the next with “The Cat Who…”

Until next time, a bientot,


  1. November 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I am terrible at trying to analyse while reading. I always get so caught up in the story that I forget I am suppose to be paying attention! Thanks for the nice book series recommend. I think I will hunt them up.


  2. December 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    Awesome writing style!

    • claudsy
      December 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm


    • claudsy
      January 17, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks, Nelson. I’m not sure how I missed this comment, but I’m humbled to think you find it so. Come again.


  3. December 18, 2011 at 1:31 am

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    • claudsy
      January 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Thanks, Krysten. I always figured that’s what words were for, to inform.


  4. Christine Sanfilippo
    January 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I also rnjoy Lilian Braun books. she is a talented writer.

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