Well, I didn’t break any reading records in January because I’ve been doing alot of research for two upcoming art shows. But, I still managed to read six books.
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND and THE ANGEL’S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafòn – These are the first two books (of four) in the series The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I have read The Shadow of the Wind before, but I got so much more out of it on the second go! Written in the genre of magical realism in Barcelona from the 1930’s through the 1970’s, it is set in the long shadow of the Spanish Civil War. You don’t know what is real, what is imagined, or who really exists. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favorite books, and while The Angel’s Game is a prequel, I am reading this series in the order they are published.
THE SECRETS WE KEPT by Lara Prescott – A historical fiction novel, there are two primary stories here. The first is the story of Irina, a Russian-American typist for the CIA turned spy. Her mission? To get Dr. Zhivago published in Russia. The second story follows Boris Pasternak and his mistress Olga (who Lara in Dr. Zhivago is based on – also note the author’s name!). I had no idea about this story, he was not allowed to accept the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1958 (his family was able to accept it in the 1980’s). I consider a historical fiction book a success if I am compelled to do further research – and I vow to read Dr. Zhivago someday!
A GESTURE LIFE by Chang-Rae Lee – This is a stunningly beautifully written book – in fact while reading it I would get so caught up in the beauty of the words, I’d have to stop and ground myself to remember there is a story here. It is the story of “Doc” Hata, a Japanese man of Korean birth that has immigrated to the US. He is careful to never overstep his boundaries and tries to make every one comfortable around him. But, as his life begins to unravel he looks back over his life. Gradually you learn the mystery – his forbidden love for a “comfort” woman when he was a medic in the Japanese army during WWII. This was a book club selection, and on a scale of 1-10, the lowest rating given was an 8!
THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE by Elizabeth Church – Another historical fiction book which takes place from the 1940’s in Chicago to the 1970’s in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Meridian Wallace gives up her aspirations to be a scientist for love and moves to Los Alamos, where her husband is working on what would become the Atomic Bomb. She begins studying a group of crows (actually it would be a Murder of Crows), which I found fascinating. It also shows how the women’s movement really changed the world.
AND THEN THERE WERE NONE by Agatha Christie – This too was a book club selection and it was so much fun to read!!! I haven’t read Agatha Christie in years! There are ALOT of characters to keep up with – but I bookmarked the first chapter to go back to refresh my memory (and also the page that lists all the accusations). I think I’ll read more Agatha Christie – there is no shortage of her books at the library.
Right now I’m reading another classic – A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN – which some generous should left in my Little Free Library!
Do you have any suggestions for upcoming books?