Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I wish I had said that

Sunday night at book club, we realized that only 2 or 3 of us would be able to attend our June meeting. So, we decided to skip a month and read a longer book: Shadow Country by Peter Mathiessen, 892 pages.

I don't know about you, but I have to read all the blurbs on a book before I can begin reading a book. I knew that Shadow Country won the National Book Award last year; and, I wasn't surprised that the blurbs were all raves. However, I was surprised by the sheer number of them and by the high level of the praise. If this book lives up to its blurbs, I will be in book club heaven--two great books in a row!

My favorite blurb:
"The book took my sleeve and like the ancient mariner would not let go."--Los Angeles Times
Man, I really wish I could think of things like that to say about the books that I read. Actually, I wish more books that I read enthralled me like the mariner's story does the wedding guest. Here's hoping Shadow Country does not disappoint.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Since I last blogged

Geez, I can't believe how long it has been since I posted here. It's not like I haven't had anything to post about. Valerie and I moved to a new apartment--much smaller but much, much nicer. I requested a transfer to a high school library--still angry that someone who didn't want the transfer is being forced to take the position instead of giving it to one of the two of us who did want it. I started Twitter-ing. I have read some really good YA books and one really great book club book.

First the book club book: The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga - I really loved this book. It is obviously reminiscent of Camus' The Stranger in that Balram, the main character, is confessing to and rationalizing a murder that he has gotten away with committing. However, I don't remember The Stranger as being the least bit funny. Adiga's book, on the other hand, made me laugh out loud more than once. Here are two of my favorite passages:
  • "These are the three main diseases of this country, sir: typhoid, cholera, and election fever. This last one is the worst; it makes people talk and talk about things they have no say in." - Isn't that the perfect description for our election years, perhaps for any country's election years?
  • Balram asks a bookseller, "So how do you sell books without knowing English?" To which the bookseller replies, "I know which book is what from the cover...I know this one is Harry Potter...I know this one is James Hadley Chase...This is Kahlil Gibran--this is Adolf Hitler--Desmond Bagley--The Joy of Sex. One time the publishers changed the Hitler cover so it looked like Harry Potter, and life was for a week after that." - I'm sure that someone who bought what they thought was Harry Potter would be outraged to have recieved a Hitler book instead, but I thought this idea was terrifically funny.
The effects of rampant illiteracy is one of the big ideas in this book, so I wasn't surprised to find some good book quotes. I'm always on the lookout for those. Balram tells the bookseller, "I just want to stand around the books. I had a book once. When I was a boy." I know some people do not have books and some do not want books, but the thought of someone wanting books and not having them is one of the saddest things I can think of. Another book quote that I liked is this one: "Strange thoughts brew in your heart when you spend too much time with old books." This quote makes me think of Frankenstein's reading of his father's outdated science books and deciding to build a human, and we all know (even those of us who never read the book) the horrible outcome of that reading. For one more book quote, check out my right sidebar.

The three great YA books that I read recently are Ash by Malinda Lo, which doesn't come out until September, Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I will post reviews of these at my work blog as soon as possible and will either link to them from here or post them here too.

Now, I need to get off here and get moving. Valerie and I want to finish hanging things today and do our grocery shopping before going to book club tonight. Enjoy your Sunday!