Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eight at Once...

Before beginning my tenure at the Odyssey Bookshop, I was the kind of reader who was virtually adamant about finishing one book before picking up another -- and I refused to not finish a book. It didn't matter if I disliked it or not, if I didn't finish a book, I felt that it would sit on my shelf and mock me for eternity. Why not, might you ask, simply give the book away then? Well, that's my other problem...I can't give away books.

Hello, my name is Emily and I have a problem...

However, upon taking my job at the Odyssey, I was also immediately put on a committee to select novels for our First Edition Club. This often meant/means reading five or more books for each month. I had to very quickly get over my "not putting down a book before finishing it" mantra.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, my new-found ability to read more than one book at a time has reached new heights and I'm now actively reading over eight books.

Each time I think I'm making progress, another book lands on my desk. I'm both a little scared and excited all at once, as not one of these eight books do I find disappointing. They are different and some are more my cup o'tea than others, but I WANT to finish all of them, and not because I feel they might taunt me later if I don't.

It seems to me that we're going to have a fantastic spring line-up.

So, Emily, what are these fantastic 8 books you're reading right now you might ask? Ok, I'll tell you. Here's what you can look forward to in the coming months (disclaimer: I have not finished one of these eight books yet and my opinion might change between now and upon turning the final page):

T.C. Boyle's The Women -- This (and here I duck my head in shame) is the first Boyle novel I've read. I've been meaning to pick up his work for years, but the five hundred or so unread novels on my shelves at home were starting to give me that look of "don't you love me anymore? You seemed so interested in me three years ago when you bought me." Yes, I give inanimate objects voices. The novel follows the lives of four women, all of whom were involved with Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect. It's gorgeously written and should you know little about Wright like I did (haven't read Horan's Loving Frank), fascinating in its historical detail.

Nafisa Haji's The Writing on My Forehead -- Haji is a debut Indo-Pakistani novelist whose novel centers around a young female journalist, who, growing up, was torn between pleasing her conservative parents and living the life of a normal American teenager. You may be thinking that you've read this story before, but Naji's novel has a few twists and turns that make it fresh and engaging.

Christian Moerk's Darling Jim -- I'm halfway through this new thriller and I'm loving it. It's suspenseful, creepy, and may keep you up at night. I'm chomping at the bit to get home this evening to finish it.

Paulette Jiles's The Color of Lightning -- Takes place in the days leading up to the Civil War and follows a recently "freed" black family as they make their way to Northern Texas to start life anew. Unfortunately, recent American-Indian raids soon tear their family apart. Jiles' second or third chapter is one of the most powerful I've read in quite some time. It's a delicate subject matter, one which Jiles handles beautifully.

Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire --- I don't know what else to say except I adored his first novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and after reading 19 pages of this next one, I have a good feeling this second one won't disappoint.

Rief Larsen's The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet --- This, too, is a debut novel and follows the journey of a 12-year-old genius on his way to Washington, D.C. to except an award from the Smithsonian. They are unaware of his age. This novel is taking the bookselling world by storm.

Hyatt Bass's The Embers -- Having dinner with the author next week and am very excited. Unfortunately, I'm only a few pages into the book so don't have quite as much to say as I'd like, but so far, so good.

And finally, Jonathan Harr's A Civil Action --- It's an oldie but a goodie. If you haven't read it, but like anything suspenseful, you'll love this. And, while it takes place more than two decades ago, it resonates well with today's current crises (corporate irresponsibility and greed).

Textbook rush is calling me away from this post, but I hope those of you reading might be interested in a couple of these titles and will stop by this Spring to pick them up. I'll post to let you know if any of these authors are henceforth scheduled to come to the Odyssey for an appearance. We're working on it!

Safe travels to all those in the area, actually to all those on the eastern seaboard, it's nasty tonight.

Emily RM

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