Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book reviews, Good Reads, and Polls: Oh, My!

It's been a quiet blogging month here at the Odyssey.  Not too unusual for November, when the days get shorter, the darkness creeps in a little earlier each night, and our attention gets directed toward the winter holidays. 

It has also been a relatively slow reading month for me, for all of the reasons listed above. (I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with the fact that my last two weekends have been dedicated to watching the BBC show Being Human, courtesy of Netflix streaming.)  But I've done two bookish things in the last few hours that I wanted to share with y'all. 

More recently, I voted in the final rounds of the GoodReads Choice Awards for 2011.  Was I disappointed that The Night Circus didn't make it to the final round for "Favorite Book of 2011?" Sure.  But I was also really, really happy to cast my vote for Deborah Harkness's debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, instead. Deborah, who is an alumna of Mt Holyoke College, launched her book tour with the Odyssey back in February and we knew then that she had a great thing going with her paranormal/historical/bibliocentric novel.

I was awake very early this morning, courtesy of my dog Roxanne who needed to go outside around 5:00 a.m. At first I grumbled about it but then I realized that in fact she gave me the perfect opportunity to finish reading a riveting new book I'd picked up a couple of days ago called Running the Rift. It's Naomi Benaron's Bellwether Prize-winning debut novel, set in Rwanda in the 1990s.  I'd been reading it in 100-page chunks but I didn't want to push through to the end last night when I was so sleepy. 

Well, it was a thoroughly engrossing read.  I'll need to mull it over a bit before posting a full review 'cause right now I'm still reeling from it.  It's one of those books where you know exactly what's going to be happen, even if you don't know the particulars, and the narrative tension builds both from within the story and from without, based on your own knowledge of actual historical events.  Like a novel that opens in Honolulu in 1940, or one that features the Warsaw Ghetto in the late 1930s, you know what you're gonna get with a book featuring Rwanda of the early 1990s. 

All I can say is, read it.  The book releases in January from our good friends at Algonquin and Naomi Benaron will be at the Odyssey on February 2, 2012, for a reading and booksigning, and if you believe in the importance of literature in understanding the human condition and the role it plays in creating empathy & dispelling fear, this is an event you should attend.


1 comment:

Naomi Benaron said...

Thank you for your good words, Emily! I look forward to returning to my home state and to meeting you.

-Naomi Benaron
author, Running the Rift