Wednesday, February 23, 2011

[Good Reads]

Simply put, I adore a good book.
I own: countless classics like The Catcher in the Rye, I had an unbelievable crush on Holden Caulfield when I read this in high school; random paperbacks like Dark Passage---my family and I found this copy in one of our favorite haunts where we’d vacation; series I acquired when I was younger, like Harry Potter, (I remember seeing a tiny picture of it in our Scholastic Reader magazine, before Potter-mania struck); and then there is the stack on my nightstand.

Four books. 

On top is Sophie’s World.
Sophie was “deep in the rabbit’s fur, snuggled comfortably” until two mysterious letters arrive at her English home.
“Who are you?” & “Where does the world come from?”
These two letters change the course of Sophie’s life, as she embarks on a captivating course in philosophy with a strange older gentleman.  At the same time, she begins receiving mail from another stranger, addressed to a Hilde.  With new “acquaintances” and a new outlook on life, Sophie approaches her 15th birthday.  Will her birthday be the day when these mysterious events finally make sense?  
In essence, it is the history of philosophy---weaved into Sophie’s story.  This is not for the faint of heart---the chapters based solely on philosophers read much like a textbook.  The themes are enlightening, however, and very much worth it.

Underneath is A.S. Byatt’s Possession.  Although I am only thirty pages in, I can already tell I will enjoy this one.  Initially, I sought this novel because it features one of my favorite passages:

“No. This is where I have always been coming to.  Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run.  But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere.”

 I am ever so eager to read it.

Next is House of Leaves. A colleague of mine referred me to this novel, and I must admit I’m a little frightened to finish it.  This book is a complex and intricate tale about a house that is larger on the inside than it appears to be on the outside.  As the family that lives there struggles with their new reality, the father/husband begins an exploration of the cavernous new additions that house seems to be growing.  How is that scary?  Characters are haunted by visions, nightmares, and a monstrous beast that lurks within---I make sure not read this one at night.  The text is somewhat confusing, using a web of footnotes that is impossible to actually make sense of, but the unconventional and creative formatting keeps me winding through this maze-like masterpiece.

Last and certainly not least, is The Time Traveler’s Wife.  I am so thankful that my sister chose this novel during book club.  Instead of giving an overview, which sounds entirely too vague, I am going to share two of this novel’s little details that I hold so dear. 
Clare:  She is an artist.  Her creativity is written fluidly, and as I read, I want to close my eyes to envision her elbows deep in dye, or pushing back her stray hair with the back of her hands.  Clare’s passion is to create tangible works of art, but the man she loves is elusive.  She is defined by the times she is without him, more than the times when they are together.
Henry:  In many ways, he is a wild thing.  In his youth he has to be primal, scavenging his way through the places he’s traveled to.  His hair is the symbol of his solitude, his youthful locks all a tangle.  As he grows in love with Clare his instincts morph.  And so does his hair.  The day he cuts his hair, he becomes hers.

The passage above from Possession is featured in The Time Traveler’s Wife.  It really is telling about Henry and Clare’s beautiful life together.  And for a novel that revolves around the urgencies of time, Audrey Niffenegger wrote a love story that transcends it.  This remarkable novel truly is my favorite.

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