I have read many, many books by Alexander McCall Smith. I just counted up to 53 of them in my little notebook where I keep a record of all the books I've read since 2005. That was the year Bauer was born and the year I read my first AMS book: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.
He mostly writes books that are parts of series, such as The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Isabel Dalhousie, 44 Scotland Street, and Corduroy Mansions. There are also some books that stand alone, like Emma, The Forever Girl, My Italian Bulldozer, and What W.H. Auden Can Do For You. I imagine Mr. McCall Smith as one who rarely revises, who has so many characters and stories in his brilliant brain that he can't help the fact that they must come tumbling out, one right after the next.
These days, I read through my commonplace books often to select the quotes that will inspire the blog posts I write, and the themes of AMS continue to solidify in my mind and inspire me and my writing. He talks so often about big thoughts and having time to think them. The quote from my blog post yesterday, plus the ones below, are only a small sampling.
Besides inspiring reflection, AMS writes often about forgiveness, "the protection of tea," and love of country. There are funny bits and serious bits, all of them weighted toward the things that matter most. More than anything, though, AMS is the master at creating and developing characters, such as one Mma Ramotswe. She is that great lady described as "traditionally built," for whom you have nothing but wholehearted love and respect, and for whom you'd fly to Botswana to meet, if only she was there in real life. I have never known and loved characters the way I know and love these people.
And because I love the characters, I love Mr. AMS himself. I love that he makes me reflect on what is good, true, and beautiful in life. I love that he writes lines that I want to copy down and incorporate into my very being. I love that he himself was born, and that his works have been born in me. I love most that God made me to love his big thoughts and that they inspire my own.