Even during a pandemic – reading continues! Yes, I still read every day, I start every day with a book and a bath. During February and March I completed 10 books, four were actually rereads. So – I’ll start with those.
FOREVER, A NOVEL by Pete Hamill -Published in 2003, this follows Cormac O’Connor, who arrives in New York in 1740. Granted immortality, as long as he stays on the island of Manhattan, we watch the city evolve from a tiny community to the city it is now (it concludes after 9/11). Cormac will stay on the island until he finds his true love, but in the meantime, he takes on a hell of a ride!
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN – by Betty Smith – I reread this because a crumbling copy of this was left in my Little Free Library. The story focuses on Francie Nolan from childhood to early adulthood and It also revolves around her parents and brother as they struggle to survive in the tenements of Brooklyn in the early 20th century. I’m glad I reread it because I got much more out of it this time around. The lesson taught is perseverance through hardship, using the symbol of the tree that grows in adversity!
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens – This was the third time I’ve read this book. I read it when it first came out, and the subsequent reading were the result of book club selections. As much as I like this book, it didn’t really stay with me, but then again, I’ve probably read 350+ books since the first time I read it.
BEACH MUSIC by Pat Conroy – I read this when it first came out, in fact I took it to Italy with me not realizing how important Italy is to the story. This is the story of Jack McCall, living in Italy with his daughter after his wife’s suicide. Somehow he integrates the horrors of the Holocaust and Viet Nam in to this book. I love Pat Conroy’s writing, in fact, I found his cookbook entertaining. My one complaint about this book, it takes place among a group of wealthy Charlestonians – not one minority in sight.
GO SET A WATCHMAN by Harper Lee – I am a big fan of TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD so I pre-purchased this book when publication was announced. This was the book Harper Lee wrote before TKAM. But, the press was so harsh when it came out I didn’t read it until now. It picks up with a 26 year old Scout who returns home from New York. It was a pleasant read, but not the same earth shattering book that TKAM is!
THE OTHER AMERICANS by Laila Lalami – This book is centered around Driss Guerraoui, who is hit and killed in California. This brings together a cast of characters searching for answers. Driss is a father, husband, business owner and a Moroccan immigrant. Around him are a list of characters, divided by race, religion and class, and each has a different story – which is told in their voice. Both a family saga and a murder mystery, it is a very timely read.
I also completed THE CEMETERY OF FORGOTTEN BOOKS cycle by finishing up both THE LAYRINTH OF THE SPIRITS and THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. First of all, how could I ever resists a series that has a cemetery of forgotten books in every novel. These are set in a post Civil War Spain, the four books span from 1938 through the 1970’s. Written in the style of magical realism, much of it is set in a bookstore, with wonderful characters, elaborate twists and great dialogue. I read them in the order they were written, not in the order they happen. It was not a waste to go through the 2200 pages (I read the first two books in January.
Set in Barcelona from 1938 through the 1970s, these books deftly combine the world of bookselling, the long shadow of the Spanish Civil War, gothic literary interplay, wonderfully salty characters, sublime dialogue and verbal sparring, along with elaborate and satisfying exposition. Taken together or individually they represent a reading experience not to be missed.