Archive for the ‘book lovers’ Tag

Shouting Out to Book Lovers   Leave a comment

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel is subtitled “The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life.”  For anyone who’s ever been called a book worm, a book lover or a bibliophile, Bogel’s nonfiction narrative serves as affirmation of the joys and quandaries associated with reading. Yet her tone is a superior rather than embracing or endearing.

In several short chapters across less than 200 pages, the author addresses everything from being asked for book recommendations to organizing bookshelves and much more. It’s relatable to those who’d rather be in the throes of a good book than almost anything else.

Although I associate with many who feel the same way I do about reading, I’d like to think I’m not a snob when interacting with those who don’t. I don’t consider myself better than anyone who enjoys other activities, perhaps just more enriched. (This is not intended to sound disdainful.)

Bogel’s book affirms what we readers already know: we are drawn into well-written stories, whether fiction or nonfiction. Well-crafted sentences, vivid images and compelling tales are hard to beat.

Nonetheless, this book is for those interested in a quick read about all there is to love about reading — even if much is common knowledge. It also recognizes the occasional pitfalls that can come with preferring fictional characters to some living, breathing ones. (OK, so I can be a snob sometimes, too!)

I’d Rather Be Reading

Three Bookmarks

Baker Books, 2018

155 pages, including Works Referenced and Acknowledgements

A Book for Booklovers   1 comment

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is the literary equivalent of a triple chocolate dessert. It’s rich, nuanced and meant for those who love chocolate, or in this case, books.

A.J. is an ill-tempered man running a bookstore on an Atlantic coastal island. The store does a brisk summer tourist business. Otherwise it’s a slow, quiet livelihood for A.J., whose wife has been dead for almost two years. But, he’s not old. He’s not even middle-aged. He is, however, a snob, particularly when it comes to literature, and he’s set in his ways, such as they are, as a lonely and often rude man.

Parts of this novel are entirely predictable, but in all the right spots. A.J. meets someone, actually three someones, who change his life: Amy, a publisher’s sales rep; Lambiase, the local police chief; and Maya, the two-year-old child abandoned in his shop. Despite some unsurprising turns, Zevin writes with humor and poignancy. She also displays a knowledge of books.

The relationships also allow A.J. to accept the greater world around him, for better and worse. It helps that the three persons who share his life are book nerds. Lambiase, who is only ever referred to by his last name, is the last to jump on board as a reader. His evolution from a by-the-rules cop is fun and warm. It’s A.J.’s connections to Amy and Maya that resonate the loudest through their shared passion for pages that need to be turned by hand.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Four-and-a-half Bookmarks
Algonquin Books, 2014
260 pages

Unlocking Secrets   3 comments

thirteenth tale

When I mentioned to a friend that I was reading Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale, she was surprised it was new to me. It is, after all, a book for booklovers and a mystery, two aspects I find appealing. There is also a sense of the gothic, which typically doesn’t grab me. Yet, I had trouble putting the book down.

This story within a story is compelling on many levels. There’s Margaret Lea, a reclusive woman whose companions are the books in her father’s antiquarian bookshop. Although close to her father, her mother is distant, practically absent from family life. Margaret had a twin sister who died at birth, an event from which Mrs. Lea never recovered.

Margaret receives a letter from Vida Winter, considered one of Britain’s most prolific and beloved authors. Despite her popularity, Vida has creatively maintained her privacy. However, in poor health she summons Margaret to write her biography. In the process, dark secrets emerge.

Each character is transformed through the story telling. Margaret becomes softer as she learns about Vida’s mysterious and startling past. Vida, whose strength diminishes day by day also begins to demonstrate warmth and concern. The more Vida reveals about herself and her dysfunctional family (long before the term was coined), the more engrossing the tale becomes.

Vida tells about the twin sisters, Adeline and Emmaline, and just when the reader is certain to have determined who is who and what is what, Setterfield adds more ingredients into the tantalizing mix.

The Thirteenth Tale
Four Bookmarks
Washington Square Press, 2006
406 pages