My in-laws used to get nervous that they gave me too many books as gifts, that I’d get tired of them. They have learned by now that nothing makes me happier, and they’ve joined my own family in helping me build my library every year. And this year, the selection of books I was given was pretty astoundingly good. Some of these were on my own wishlist, some of them were given with great thought and care, and one of them was a gift to myself.
I went out to Lambertville, NJ today for my sorority alumni’s Founders Day luncheon. I love this area, Adam and I spent our 1st wedding anniversary in New Hope and Lambertville (across a walkable bridge from each other).
The best thing about lunch at Lambertville Station was this chocolate truffle dessert.
By complete coincidence, I finished the audio book of Sara Gruen’s astounding Water for Elephants the same day that my copy of Philip and Erin Stead’s A Sick Day for Amos McGee arrived in the mail. That book is hard to get your hands on these days, so it was the first chance I’d actually had to read this year’s Caldecott medalist. And something about experiencing these books on the same day made me feel so euphoric that I couldn’t escape how similar the experiences were.
Holy apocalypse, these books scared the pants off of me. And not in a cover-my-eyes-and-scream-in-terror kind of way. They were perfect October reading, they definitely got me into the Halloween spirit. These books are so bleak, so dark and creepy, so hard to put down that I found myself coming up for air and breathing with relief that we weren’t really in the middle of a vampire zombie apocalypse.
Yes. A vampire zombie apocalypse. Because that’s basically what the 1st two books in this new trilogy are about. The Strain, to me, was pure, delicious creepiness (if you like that kind of thing). A plane arrives at JFK and stops suddenly on the runway. The CDC is called in to investigate and finds all but 4 of the people on board dead. With no obvious cause of death. As CDC epidemiologists Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez investigate, they discover a deadly and fast-acting new virus. And the 4 survivors are not as well as they seem. Then Abraham Setrakian, an old Holocaust survivor and NYC pawnbroker, sneaks into their lab and tells them to burn all of the bodies immediately, and this begins the (slow) realization by the scientists that vampires are real and a Master has arrived in New York. They join forces with Setrakian and an exterminator named Vasily Fet to fight the vampire virus.
Back in March I reviewed the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I finished the rest of the trilogy earlier this month, and while neither of the later books quite lived up to everything that the first one had, overall I thought this trilogy was phenomenal. And it makes me very sad that Stieg Larsson is no longer with us, because I would have loved to read more Lisbeth Salander/Mikael Bloomkvist novels like he’d originally planned.
I’ve really been in love with all of the books for adults I’ve read lately. Ian McEwan’s Atonement is no exception. I’ve still never seen the movie, and even though by now word of mouth has revealed a lot of the secrets of this book there is still a lot to be savored here.
I’m having a bit of a reading crisis this year. I’ve been trying to go back and read all these classic children’s novels that I never read as a kid. But I’m remembering that there’s a reason I never read them: I find a lot of them painfully boring, and I did as a kid, too. So many of them were just not my thing growing up, so now when someone makes a reference to a Little House book or a sweeping story of historic significance I just blink and nod. My general rule of thumb as a kid was if a character wore a bonnet or lived on the plains/in the country, I was probably not going to love it. I’m finding more and more that this still holds true for children’s books (but oddly, I do love the classics of adult lit).
I read this über popular, utterly strange adaption of Jane Austen’s classic around Thanksgiving. Do I think it improves upon the original story, one of my favorite books of all time? No. Did I enjoy it anyway? Yes. But I’m not really sure if I enjoyed it because of all the extra zombie mayhem, or if it was just rereading the wonderful text by Jane Austen that still remains in this book (85% of the original text remains).
The Da Vinci Code is packed with historical scholarship but thin on real creative writing. It’s fairly formulaic, but Brown’s vast detailing makes up for it to create an overall enjoyable and surprising ride. It’s popcorn reading, which has its place. The Lost Symbol falls short of that adventure, offering a hunt through the symbols of Washington, DC landmarks that leads up to…not very much. There’s no punch at the end, no surprise twist that brings the whole delicious experience of his books together. It just sort of ended, and I wasn’t very excited. I was, however, intrigued by the history of the Masons and the connection to our nation’s capitol. It did make me want to take a trip to DC and explore.