My reading in February included a spy novel, a graphic novel based on the life of possibly the first person that was famous for being famous, two books I read for my quest of reading an author from each state, a classic children’s book the author didn’t allow the sequel filmed after hating the the film based on this book, and more.
THE ENGLISH SPY by Daniel Silva – I love this series of books, based on secret agent Gabriel Allon – world class art restorer by day, assassin and spy by night. Gabriel’s wife Chiara is pregnant with twins and he is going to become the head of “The Office”. But, he is called into service again to track down the Irish bomb maker Eamon Quinn, who has killed around the world, with his most recent victim a royal princess aboard a private yacht (seemed like shades of Diana). He recruits previously seen character Christopher Keller and the story moves between Moscow, Vienna, Hamburg, London and Belfast. It is fast and exciting, and you don’t need to read any previous Gabriel Allon books to enjoy this one! An aside Daniel Silva is married to reporter Jamie Gangel, previously of The Today Show and now CNN.
A MAP OF THE KNOWN WORLD by Lisa Ann Sandell – I am on a quest to read a book by an author from each state, and this is my selection for Delaware. I enjoyed it so much, I read another book by this author, THE WEIGHT OF THE SKY – which was this author’s first novel and written entirely in verse. These will be discussed in another blog devoted to my quest, but I want to mention, these are both Young Adult novels about finding your way, your home and your heart.
KIKI DE MONTPARNASSE by Catel Muller and Jose-Luis Bocquet – A graphic novel, it is based on the life of Alice Prin. Alice was born in 1901 in rural france and raised by her Grandmother. She was sent to Paris at age 12 and was caught modeling nude by her mother, she was kicked out and began living on the streets. The book focuses on the wild bohemian lifestyle in Paris after WWI. She befriends artists such as Picasso, Calder and lived with Man Ray for several years. In fact, the cover of the book is based on a famous photograph by Man Ray of her (see below based on the photography Le Violon D’Ingres). She became known as Kiki, and became known as the Queen of Montparnasse. It is a riveting story, and I must admit, I read it as research for another blog series I am writing about women in art. Kiki dabbled in everything from painting a little (and having a sold out show) to singing bawdy songs in nightclubs, to abusing alcohol and drugs. Sadly, she became a shell of herself and died at the age of 52. This was fun to read, and even though it is a graphic novel, IT IS NOT FOR CHILDREN!
DELIVERING HAPPINESS: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh – Tony is the CEO of Zappos – and this book chronicles the rise of the company to $1 billion sales a year. Beginning with Tony’s life and his history of entrepeneurship it is a mostly fun read. He explains the importance of corporate culture and why customer service is something for the entire company, not just a department. (They will pay an employee $2000 to quit if they don’t fit.) Zappos has been named one of the Fortune magazine’s top 25 companies to work for. While employee growth is encouraged, so is playing hard together. In another younger life, I would have loved to work at a place like this, but I’ve worked too long to want to work with the seemingly fraternity atmosphere (to me anyway).
THE TEMPEST TALES by Walter Mosely – This book was chosen by a book club to read in honor of Black History Month, and I am so thankful I was introduced to this book. For a book of only 165 pages, it packs a moral punch like I’ve never read before. Tempest is “accidentally” shot by the police and sent to the Pearly Gates, where St. Peter condemns him to hell. Tempest refuses to go explaining that as a black man living in Harlem, many of his choices were made for his survival and for his friends and family. He ends up back on earth with a black guardian angel. The pace if fast and often funny.When a white man shows up – Basel Bob (get it? aka Beezelbub) the dialogue and the exchanges turn almost devilish as they begin making deals for hell, heaven and life on earth. I will read more of Walter Mosely – he did after all create the character of Easy Rawlins!
CHARLIES AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Roald Dahl – written in 1964, it is the adventures of Charlie Bucket and his tour of the chocolate factory led by Willy Wonka. I found this was inspired by Dahl’s experience with chocolate factories in his childhood. Cadbury sent packages to schoolchildren and asked for their opinions (around 1920). Apparently the largest chocolate factories at the time sent spies into other factories. I want to read the sequel – CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR, which has never been made into a film. Story goes, Dahl was so disappointed in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, he refused to have the film version of this book made.
Let me know what you think – leave me a comment! March reading has another morality story, as well as a famous horror story that was written by an 18-year old!