Saturday, August 06, 2005

A completely biased selection of books

As well as an ecclectic selection. I have recently read and thoroughly enjoyed:

Summerland,by Michael Chabon--Ostensibly a young adult book, this fine novel mixes baseball, coming of age, and elements of mythic fantasy for an utterly engaging read for many ages. The author is a pulitzer prize winner. The writing is flawless--a book to read over and treasure.

The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger--a poignant allegory of staying in relationship with another told through the story of a man with a genetic defect that does not allow him to stay rooted in time. He is inadvertent time traveler within his own life. The story is beautifully told in first person through alternating viewpoints--the husband and the wife. A breathtakingly beautiful read.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides--a quirky story of an hermaphrodite, growing up as a young woman in a Greek family. At turns darkly funny and tragic, this wonderful novel chronicles the sweep of generations in the protagonist's family as well as the character's coming to terms with sexuality, identity, and maturity.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón--Taking place around the time of the Spanish Civil war, this quasi-gothic novel tells parallel stories. An author disappears and his written works are being systematically hunted down and destroyed. The son of a bookseller chances upon one of the last copies of the author's books and becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to the man. The writing is lush, the characters lively and fully realized. Despite a plot device (a huge chunk of backstory relayed by a letter given to the protagonist) that felt unsatifying, this is a beautiful read.

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K Le Guin. I have read this book multiple times and its strength does not diminish on successive reads. George Orr is an average young man whose dreams change reality for everyone around him. He is haunted by these 'effective' dreams and doesn't feel he has the right or the wisdom to play 'God'. Trapped in a cycle of dream suppressing drugs, he is placed in rehab with a dream specialist. Dr. Haber quickly realizes that George is not crank and tries to direct George's abilities in a concious attempt to change the world. A wonderful read concerning the nature of reality with 'zen' overtones set in a future Seattle.

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