Posts Tagged ‘adventure’
I know that I am not the only book blogger out there who is stubborn. I’ve read plenty of posts in which readers proclaim about “refusing to give in to the hype” and steering clear of books that have shot to the top of bestseller lists and set the general public on fire. I like to think that I tend to avoid mass hits in the publishing world because they tend to be directed at readers whose tastes are different from myself, but I do know that part of my avoidance is definitely due to not wanting to give in to peer pressure and jump on the latest bandwagon. Tony is probably the first person who can tell you that I do somewhat pride myself in being difficult and contrary, so it’s no surprise that this aspect of my personality extends to my reading preferences.
All this to say that even though I have been told by people for ages that I would love Ann Patchett and that Bel Canto is one of the best books ever, I have resisted reading anything by her until now. I have a copy of Bel Canto that has languished unread for a few years now, but just when I think I’ll give it a try, someone tells me how much I will love it, and I immediately feel like I have to read anything else. When I saw that State of Wonder was being offered up for a TLC Tour, I was mildly interested, but it wasn’t until I read the brief summary of the book that I was fully intrigued. I mean, a book that involves doctors and scientists researching medicines in the Amazon sounds like heaven to me, so with that temptation before me, I asked to be part of the tour. And I promise I did so in good faith, or mostly in good faith. I admit that I wanted to like the book, but part of me also sort of hoped that I would hate it so that I could be a lone ornery drummer in a band full of Ann Patchett fans.
Fair warning to all of you: what is about to follow is likely to be a hugely controversial reaction to a novel that is well-loved by book bloggers the world over. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that it’s taken me so long to finally read The Shadow of the Wind, although that in itself is probably shocking enough. No, I must reveal – with all due respect to its champions – that I think The Shadow of the Wind is a fairly terrible book.
How sad that I should have to type those words! After all, the premise seems so promising. One fateful eve, Daniel is brought to a mysterious archive by his father known simply as The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel is told he may choose one book, and with his selection, he will promise that said book will never be without a home or a reader again. As if drawn by a power he cannot understand, Daniel selects a book entitled “The Shadow of the Wind” written by Julian Carax. Daniel feverishly devours the novel and soon makes it his mission to track down all other novels penned by Carax. Much to his dismay, he finds that Carax’s novels are no easy things to acquire, especially since someone has made it their mission to burn all of Carax’s books that remain in print. As Daniel works to unravel the mystery of Carax and the secrets of his past, he finds him swept up in a sinister and deadly game of cat-and-mouse, and we all know what curiosity does to cats…
Ever since falling ill last week, I’ve fallen woefully behind in my book reviews. Not that I’ve been reading a ton, because I haven’t (that’s how sick I was… a week spent pretty much NOT reading!), but still, I’ve read some and then haven’t had the energy to write about any of it. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve spent time on some fairly mediocre reads, The Egyptologist, being one such book.
This is a novel told through letters and diary entries, which is actually a pretty cool conceit and helps the story flow a lot better than it might otherwise have done. We open with a letter from one Ralph Trilipush addressed to his fiancée, essentially telling her that if she’s reading this letter then he must be dead. He left a few months prior to the date of this letter on an archeology expedition in Egypt with the aim of uncovering the tomb of an ancient king whose very existence is hotly disputed. In the letter, Trilipush mentions that he is sending along his private journals and dig notes so that his fiancée can publish his findings. The rest of The Egyptologist is made up of these bits of writing allowing the reader to slowly reconstruct what happened to Trilipush. In addition, we are also privy to the correspondence of an aging Australian private eye, who was hired many years ago to find the illegitimate offspring of a wealthy English shipping magnate; these letters are addressed to the great nephew of Trilipush’s fiancée, and as readers we slowly begin to piece together a larger mystery that is in play and that heretofore has never properly been resolved.
I posted a while back that I had embarked on reading The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco… only, the thing is, I have failed miserably at reading it. I took it with me when I went out of town, figuring that all of the flights and traveling would provide me ample opportunity to read it. When Tony’s flight was delayed from Nashville to Baltimore, I polished off about 150 pages while waiting for him at the airport. This experience was quite painful and left me wanting to stab out my eyes, because for every enjoyable mystery bit that advanced the main plotline, there would be about 25 pages of turgid, dense philosophical or historical (sometimes both) musings that had the most soporific of effects on me. Needless to say, I began trawling the little Borders shop (surprisingly well-stocked for an airport bookstore) looking for new reading material. And that is where I stumbled upon The Mysterious Benedict Society. I was intrigued by the comparison to Harry Potter (then again, I’ve been burned by such allusions before – ahem, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. One day I’ll make it past the first 30 pages!), and the price of $7 wasn’t bad either. Pair this with a 30% off coupon we got at the in-store café later in the week, and I was sold. Or rather, the book was, but you see what I’m getting at here.