Author's Bookshelf: Dan Buri

We're bringing something a bit different to Writing in the Modern Age today. Awhile back, I had an idea for a new feature so I reached out to some author colleagues to see if they'd like to participate. I thought it might be nice to show readers a few books that have inspired authors. You might find it enlightening, and at least be able to answer the age old question, "What the heck do authors read?"



Writers are readers too! Most authors love to collect books for their vast personal libraries. The written word is fascinating to us, and many newer authors as well as those in the past have helped to shape who we are today. 

Without further ado, our guest today is Dan Buri, a fiction author. Won't it be interesting to hear about a few books that have inspired Dan on his writing and publishing journey? 

Sounds pretty awesome to me. So, take it away, Dan!



I want to thank Marie for this wonderful opportunity. She’s wonderful, isn’t she?! Thank you, Marie!

Growing up in Minnesota, my parents mandated “reading time” from noon-1pm every day in the summer. Growing up with four rambunctious brothers and a lovely sister who all enjoyed sports, I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was for us to come inside from our follies in the summer weather. While some of “reading time” was simply to give my mother a little peace and quiet for an hour, it instilled in all of us a lifelong love of reading. I recall some amazing summer afternoons with a book.

Look at us rug rats all grown up!


I won’t bore you with the caveat that my Author’s Bookshelf was difficult and could be a hundred books. I know as readers and writers we’re inclined to judge people’s selections regardless of how long the list is. (“Oh no, I don’t agree with that at all. A John Grisham book? This guy clearly isn’t serious about his writing. I don’t like that at all. I’m definitely not going to read his book.”—I’m smiling if that’s not showing through your computer screen. And while Grisham isn’t on this list, I do enjoy his books.) Lists like this are always difficult. So here they are. Judge me, friends!

1. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis




Narnia . . . a land frozen in eternal winter . . . a country waiting to be set free

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, a series that has become part of the canon of classic literature, drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over fifty years.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.


Dan's Thoughts:


This needs to be number one on my list. I have read it a half dozen times or so, but the first time I read it was with my mother. I think I fell in love with storytelling hearing my mother read this book to me. It’s a beautiful fable. I can recall lying up at night before bed as she made the world of C.S. Lewis a reality for me.

A bonus conversation from last week about fauns with my 3-yr-old daughter. (If you don’t know why this is applicable, you need to pick up the book and introduce yourself to Mr. Tumnus.)

Me: Nice picture, honey. That looks like a faun.

Isla: What’s a faaawwwwwnnnnn?

Me: A half man-half goat. Like Mr. Tumnus.

Isla: What?!?!?! Are you for serious?! You’re crazy, daddy.


2. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevski



The Brothers Karamazov is the final novel by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Dostoyevsky spent nearly two years writing The Brothers Karamazov, which was published as a serial in The Russian Messenger from January 1879 to November 1880. The author died less than four months after its publication. The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th-century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, judgment, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide. Dostoyevsky composed much of the novel in Staraya Russa, which inspired the main setting. Since its publication, it has been acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature.

Dan's Thoughts:


If you have asked me to name my favorite book at any point in time from 2000—Now, I would tell you The Brothers Karamazov. What’s special about 2000? Well, I was a senior in high school and read this book for the first time. Mind. Blown.

What’s so special about the book? A quote: “Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.”


3. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson




One of the world’s most beloved writers and bestselling author of One Summer takes his ultimate journey—into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trailwell, most of it. In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understandand, if possible, answerthe oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, traveling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

Dan's Thoughts:


This book never ceases to blow my mind, despite having read it three times. Exploring everything from the Big Bang to the discovery of quantum mechanics, Bryson takes some of the most instrumental discoveries in science and makes them accessible and awe-inspiring. With an engineering background, the scientist in me loves this book.

If you love science, you need to pick up this book. If you find science insufferable or unattainable, this is the book that will allow you to grasp it, no advanced degree necessary. Come as you are and allow Bryson to create for you a magnificent Science Buffet. A Sciuffet, if you will.

You won’t? No? Okay. Let’s drop the whole Sciuffet thing and just go read this book.


4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens




A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a novella by Charles Dickens, first published in London on December 1843. The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs, such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease on life during this time. Dickens' sources for the tale appear to be many and varied, but are, principally, the humiliating experiences of his childhood, his sympathy for the poor, and various Christmas stories and fairy tales.

Dickens was not the first author to celebrate the Christmas season in literature, but it was he who superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday upon the public, an idea that has been termed as Dickens' "Carol Philosophy". Dickens believed the best way to reach the broadest segment of the population regarding his concerns about poverty and social injustice was to write a deeply felt Christmas story rather than polemical pamphlets and essays. Dickens' career as a best-selling author was on the wane, and the writer felt he needed to produce a tale that would prove both profitable and popular. Dickens' visit to the work-worn industrial city of Manchester was the "spark" that fired the author to produce a story about the poor, a repentant miser, and redemption that would become A Christmas Carol. The forces that inspired Dickens to create a powerful, impressive and enduring tale were the profoundly humiliating experiences of his childhood, the plight of the poor and their children during the boom decades of the 1830s and 1840s, and Washington Irving's essays on old English Christmas traditions published in his Sketch Book (1820); and fairy tales and nursery stories, as well as satirical essays and religious tracts.

Dan's Thoughts:


I love Christmas time. I absolutely love it. There's just something about the kindheartedness everyone seems to display around the holiday season. People are willing to talk to complete strangers and give just a little bit more. Some of my favorite books and movies are about the holidays, and this one may be the best of them all.

I love how this great masterpiece is simple, short, and almost child-like in accessibility. It informs me that a great piece of literature does not have to be fraught with grandiose soliloquies. It can be short and sweet.


5. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson


This beloved Newbery Medal-winning novel by bestselling author Katherine Paterson is a modern classic of friendship and loss.

Jess Aarons has been practicing all summer so he can be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. And he almost is, until the new girl in school, Leslie Burke, outpaces him. The two become fast friends and spend most days in the woods behind Leslie's house, where they invent an enchanted land called Terabithia. One morning, Leslie goes to Terabithia without Jess and a tragedy occurs. It will take the love of his family and the strength that Leslie has given him for Jess to be able to deal with his grief. 

Bridge to Terabithia was also named an ALA Notable Children’s Book and has become a touchstone of children’s literature, as have many of Katherine Paterson’s other novels, including The Great Gilly Hopkins and Jacob Have I Loved.

Dan's Thoughts:


I can’t quite place what it always was about this book, but I’ve loved it ever since I was a little boy. This book transports the reader simultaneously into the world of the loneliness children can experience and at the same time into a magical world they create in their imagination. Paterson showed me that a kid’s book can be filled with sadness and hope all at once. Young kids handle far more difficult situations than we oftentimes give them credit for, and this book certainly broaches some difficult questions for kids. Even more than that, though, I think indie books specifically can too often avoid difficult subjects or tackle them in a course, unpleasant manner. Just like life, there’s room in our books for joy and sadness all at once.

Thank you, Dan! I agree. I don't think you can always avoid sadness in fiction.


I love the Christmas season as well! And these all look like great novels! :)


Readers, here is a little about Dan's book, Pieces Like Pottery!


Book Blurb:


AMAZON #1 BESTSELLER. The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, Pieces Like Pottery, announces the arrival of a new American author. Critics are raving:

"Pieces Like Pottery hits you in the feels." - CJ Leger, The San Francisco Globe

"Immensely powerful, challenging, and emotionally-charged. 5 Stars." Stacey Garrity, Whispering Stories

"Something to be cherished and relived. 5 Stars." Devi Nair, The Verdicts Out

"We can all learn from this book. 5 Stars." Colleen Ozment, Paws and Paper

"Wow. Read this book. 5 Stars." Megan Verwey, GirlPlusBook

In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, Pieces Like Pottery is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.

Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love mirroring themes from each of the five Sorrowful Mysteries. In "Expect Dragons", James Hinri learns that his old high school teacher is dying. Wanting to tell Mr. Smith one last time how much his teaching impacted him, James drives across the country revisiting past encounters with his father's rejection and the pain of his youth. Disillusioned and losing hope, little did James know that Mr. Smith had one final lesson for him.

In "The Gravesite", Lisa and Mike's marriage hangs in the balance after the disappearance of their only son while backpacking in Thailand. Mike thinks the authorities are right—that Chris fell to his death in a hiking accident—but Lisa has her doubts. Her son was too strong to die this young, and no one can explain to her why new posts continue to appear on her son's blog.

"Twenty-Two" looks in on the lives of a dock worker suffering from the guilt of a life not lived and a bartender making the best of each day, even though he can see clearly how his life should have been different. The two find their worlds collide when a past tragedy shockingly connects them.

A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, Pieces Like Pottery reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.


Here is an excerpt.


Excerpt from
"Expect Dragons"
The Third Sorrowful Mystery
            Ten miles down the road I eased my car off the highway into the small town of Miles City. I had already been on the road almost seven hours. I stretched my legs and looked down Main Street. Small town America indeed, I thought to myself. This is quaint. Two water towers gently stood watch over the town. The sun glistened off the metal as trees surrounded the base of one of the towers as if they were the subjects below. A few strained to grow taller and enter the heights of the tower, which bore the town’s name in white letters across the side.           
            After filling my tank again, I grabbed a water and a few snacks from the gas station. I tried to make a call, but my cell service was at one bar. I saw a pay phone on the side of the gas station and grabbed a few quarters from the change tray in my car. I always wondered who still used these things, I thought as I dialed.
            “Hi, Mrs. Smith.” I greeted her with the concerned tone of someone unsure what emotion I should be projecting.
            “James!” Mrs. Smith responded. Her voice contained far more excitement than I expected for someone whose husband of forty-two years was dying in the next room. “Don’t tell me you have bad news!” she chided as her voice remained chipper.
            “No, no, Mrs. Smith. Well, not additional bad news beyond the news of Mr. Smith’s…”
            “Good! How’s the drive?”
            “It’s fine. I’m in a little place called Miles Town or Miles City or something. I’m at the eastern end of Montana.”
            “Good. Good to hear it, James. So how much longer do you have on the open road?” She said those last words as if I were a lost traveler searching for a home to rest his head.
            “I should get to your place sometime tomorrow afternoon, Mrs. Smith.”
            “That’s great. Al is so happy you’re coming. His face lit up when I told him yesterday that you were making the drive.” She paused, listening to see if her husband had called her from the next room. After feeling confident that she only imagined it, she continued, “You’re going to play your song, right, James? Al tuned his guitar for the first time in weeks last night. I didn’t say anything to him, but I think he’s hoping you’ll play it for him.”
            “I found the old lyrics in a box I had in the closet, Mrs. Smith, but I don’t know why you want me to play that stupid song anyway. It’s so…”
            “Because he likes it, James,” she interrupted. “He likes it. Isn’t that enough?”
            I guess it should be, I thought, but my own doubts and insecurities always left me uncomfortable playing music for others. I remembered a time in high school when Mr. Smith stared in wonder at another teacher. “Look at her,” he said in excitement. I looked to see another teacher mesmerized by a coffee mug.
            “Yea….? So, what’s she looking at?”
            “The coffee mug,” he answered without breaking his gaze at his co-worker across the room.
            “I….see that,” I replied slightly annoyed. “Why?” I was baffled why his gaze was fixed on his homely, sixty-year-old colleague.
            “I don’t know,” was his matter-of-fact response, “but she’s so captivated by it. It’s fascinating.”
            “You all right, Mr. Smith?”
            He looked away from her and directed his gaze toward me. He smiled wistfully—a look I had learned meant he was about to impart some wisdom on me.
            “You see how excited she is, don’t you?”
            I nodded.
            “Well, that’s interesting. Here she is, looking at something as simple and unimportant as a coffee mug, yet she’s captivated by it. That excites me. I have no idea why she’s captivated, but I still know that she is, just from the expression on her face.”
            He leaned back in his chair. “You see, James, she finds that coffee mug interesting for some reason. I have no idea why, but the mere fact that she finds it so fascinating is interesting in and of itself. Other people’s excitement should bring us excitement, son. Always remember that.
            “There’s nothing wrong with letting someone else’s sense of wonder spill over into you. This applies ten-fold when it’s someone you care about dearly. Allow their passions to be your passions. Experience life with those you love, and let their interests excite you, even if they're not your primary interest, even if it’s just a coffee mug. It allows for a much more enriching life, James.”
            He got up and walked off with a smile.
            I was reminded of this encounter with Mr. Smith as his lovely wife was insisting I play the song for him tomorrow. I knew what Mr. Smith would say. I knew he’d urge that his enjoyment of the song should be enough for me to enjoy it.
            An electronic voice in the handset notified me that my time was running out.
            “Are you on a pay phone, James?” Mrs. Smith chuckled.
            “Yea, sounds like my time’s almost up, and I’m out of quarters. I’ll see…”
            The dial tone boorishly cut our conversation short. I hung up the receiver with mild disgust and strolled back to my car. One more day on the road before seeing my old teacher for the final time.

Genre:  Fiction/Inspirational

Purchase Links:

Amazon Universal link:

Barnes & Noble:




Add it to your Goodreads list!


This looks like a fascinating collection! And thank you for stopping by to give us a glimpse of your bookshelf, Dan!  :)

Thank you, Marie! I am grateful for this opportunity. If your readers have questions or comments, or they would like to share their thoughts on my book, please have them contact me. I would love to hear from them. You can reach me via email at danburi777 [at] gmail [dot] com or on twitter @DanBuri777. Thanks again!


My pleasure! It's always an honor to have you here. 


Readers, don't forget to pick up your copy of Pieces Like Pottery!


About the Author:


Dan Buri's first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life. 

Dan has a website for Indie Authors called Nothing Any Good, which offers advice for writers and recommendations for readers. The site aims to help make sense of the difficult world that is indie publishing. It supports indie authors and provides compelling content in the form of articles, essays, and stories provided by a variety of sources.

Mr. Buri's non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded 'Buris On The Couch', was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World's Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

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