Currently (Re-) Reading: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
So I know I’ve overloaded everyone with blog posts in the last week, but I’m absolutely determined to meet this goal of nine posts in November! Probably because I have a bad record for following through on goals I set for myself. However, I’ve decided to use this last November post to give some recommendations and summaries of my favorite books as an easier read from which you will hopefully benefit.
Or maybe I’m just copping out because I have actually caught up with blogging on all the books I’ve read since I started Novel Ideas and I didn’t leave myself enough time to write a worthy post on another book-related topic… You can be the judge.
Here are three book recommendations for you with the summaries from their back covers.
1. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
“Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets – an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.”
Yes, I’ve mentioned this book recently and yes, it is so good it’s worth bringing up once again. Like I’ve said, it’s a gripping story that has one hell of a shock ending. Plus, Zafon’s writing is just beautiful! He has an unbelievable ability to create imagery that’s so vivid and originally described. It makes me pea green with envy because I will never be able to write that well. His writing is even more impressive because this book was originally written in Spanish. That’s right. You’re reading a translation. Makes me wish I could read Spanish just so I could get the full effect of his writing. I highly recommend this book and the other novels in the set, The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
(My copy doesn’t have a summary on the back cover so this is my brief summary)
Jacob Jankowski is a student at veterinary school about to finally earn his degree when he receives the devastating news that both his parents have been killed in a car accident. His life is further turned upside down by the discovery that they left Jacob with a mountain of debt that forces him to sell his father’s veterinary practice and his childhood home. In the midst of a breakdown, Jacob drops out of school and runs away, eventually jumping on a train. He is surprised to find the train belongs to the circus troupe called Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. The ringleader, Uncle Al, learns Jacob has veterinary training and hires the dropout to treat the circus animals. While traveling with the performers, Jacob discovers that behind the colorful, fanciful and spectacular show lurks a dark and dangerous world and Jacob unwittingly places himself in the thick of it when he falls in love with Marlena, the show’s star and the wife of the hot-tempered head-trainer, August.
It’s a fascinating look into the circus culture and a beautiful love story to boot. Furthermore, Gruen’s writing is effortlessly smooth, making it easy for the audience to become thoroughly absorbed in the novel. Another excellent read to add to your own list.
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
“By her brother’s graveside, Liesel Meminger’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger’s Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.
But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up and closed down.
In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak has given us one of the most enduring stories of out time.”
The last sentence really says a lot about what it so wonderful about this book. It truly is intense and “superbly crafted.” Zusak also makes one of the most unique writing choices I’ve ever encountered and tells the story from the perspective of Death. It sounds like it should be incredibly morbid to read a story told by Death, but he’s a surprisingly entertaining narrator. Warning, this is one of the most amazing, beautiful stories I’ve ever read, but it’s also one of the saddest. If you’re emotional at all, have a box of tissues ready while you read.