I admit I’m a picky reader. I borrow lots of titles from my library, read a short bit, and if I’m not pulled in, back it goes. Sometimes that can lead to some lulls in my reading stash, and I’ll supplement with magazines or short story collections.
With fiction, I like a good story: strong characters, plot, and surprises. I want believable settings and solid writing. My non-fiction tastes are similar: no textbook sagas for me, but stories that happen to be true that read like great fiction. And I want to come away having learned something I didn’t know.
Two recent titles pulled me in and kept me rapt.
On a bookshelf at my parents’ house, I found a tattered copy of Simon Winchester’s The Professor & the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Fascinating story. How this reference tome came to be in the era before electronic typewriters, let alone Internet is mind-boggling. The characters are just that—hard to believe they’re real.
I listened to Dave Egger’s The Monk of Mokha on cd in my car. There were times I had to finish a chapter before exiting the parked vehicle. It’s an immigrant story, a business story; it’s about Yemen and coffee. Filled with humor and suspense.
Both these books could become amazing movies.
Recently I used Just the Right Book, justtherightbook.com, to give gifts. The recipient completes a questionnaire about what they like to read and JTRB sends books based on the person’s interests. With the demise of bookstores, this is actually linked to a real bookstore, RJ Julia’s in Madison, CT. If you’re looking for gifts, I recommend trying this service. If a title isn’t what a person wants, they can exchange it with free shipping.
Happy Spring Reading! Please give me some suggestions.