In case you’re interested, though I don’t expect you to be. I typically juggle several books at a time and read one or the other depending on what mood I’m in and what my attention span is.
1. In the Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
A Spanish bestseller recently translated into English. I read some Spanish, enough to recognize the cadence even in the translated version, and it is beautiful. The story dwells firmly in the world of magical realism, but lacks the clichés of some of the recent additions to the genre. “In the Shadow of the Wind” is itself the title of a novel by a mysterious writer named Julian Carax, whose story young Daniel Sempere is determined to unravel despite danger to himself as well as odd parallels between the novel and himself. Set in post civil war Barcelona, the city and its factions are as much characters as anyone else.
2. Enchantment, Guy Kawasaki. Meh. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself.
3. On Literature, Umberto Eco. Have I mentioned how much I love Daedalus Books? I’m blessed to have a warehouse outlet near where I live, and stopping by makes my day every single time. They carry out of print and remaindered books, which, given the taste of the American reading public, is pretty much everything good. And they’re rock-bottom cheap. A few days I ago I scored this, along with three or four volumes of poetry, and paid $ 25.00.
Anyway, you may recall Eco as the author of The Name of the Rose. Its sheer heft scares a lot of people off, but like Tolstoy once you start it you can’t stop. I haven’t read any other of his books, but now that he’s back on my radar screen I think I will.
3. History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. Another long one (around 800 pages), but very much worth the read if you’re interested in getting a better grasp on pre-fall of Rome history. I actually just finished reading, so this isn’t technically something I’m reading now, but at 800 pages I feel like I should get some credit.
The focus is on the development of the best documented cultures: Sumeria/Assyria/Babylon; Greece; India; Egypt; China; and eventually Rome. Occasionally Bauer sneaks in a new tribe she hasn’t previously introduced, which was a little disconcerting, and by the end I was having trouble keeping the Hittites and the Bactrian Greeks and the Aryans (the original ones, in India) straight. But now I can sound smart at parties.
4. A Village Life, Louise Gluck. I almost always read a poem or two at bedtime, and this is the volume I’m working on now. I’ve worshipped Gluck for years, but this slim collection, set in an unspecified Mediterranean village, takes my breath away. Think of Spoon River Anthology plus Winesburg, Ohio and add in the shimmering language of a truly gifted poet. Mmmmmmmm. Also, for me at least the feel of a book of poetry is almost as important as the words inside. Fat anthologies are purely utilitarian. I like the feel of a little, beautifully bound book in my hand, and this one is just the right size, with just the right sort of paper and a lovely font. As much as I adore my Nook, I will always treasure this sort of aesthetic. And there isn’t much poetry in the online shop at B&N anyway.
Finally (and off topic), good luck to my hubby John, who will be running the 15th annual Port to Fort this weekend to benefit Believe in Tomorrow, providing hospital and respite services to critically ill children and their families. Please consider supporting this wonderful organization. If you’d like to sponsor my husband, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or just go here. Who knows what books these children will grow up to write?