Friday, November 6, 2009

Getting my fix

Jennifer's post inspired me, and made me realize that we haven't talked about books in awhile. I had an experience almost identical to Jen's at the library last week. As I've said before, libraries are like crack for me, and after a particularly trying week at work, I needed a hit. (Do you call it a "hit" when you're talking about crack?  I'm so not street.) So despite the pile of probably 10 books on my nightstand, and that other pile of 8 books on the bookcase, and then those two bags of books from my mother in law that I haven't get the point...I went to the library to rest my stressed out head.

At one point I was carrying around 6 large hardcover books, which eventually led to a rather loud debacle in a very quiet library. So I took my red face and found a cozy chair in a corner to read the first few pages of each, imposing a 4 book limit on myself.  I narrowed it down to the following:

First up, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I had heard a lot of hype about this book, and typically I'm not a big fan of hype.  Hype makes me skeptical. Call me a cynic if you will, but I've always subscribed to the theory that I'd rather have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised, than have high expectations and be bitterly disappointed. But that applies more to life than books. Moving on...

Water for Elephants did not disappoint. It is told from the point of view of Jacob Jankowski, an old man in a nursing home looking back on his life. The book had a sad sweetness to it, and the storytelling by Ms. Gruen was enchanting. She brought you right into the narrator's world and you just didn't want to leave.  Once I started I hated to put it down. Sometimes I dread the ending of a book that I'm really enjoying, because tidy endings annoy me, and open ended ones usually bother me. (I'm serious about this reading business) But I think this ending leaves you exactly where you want to be after hearing Jacob's story, and not in the most expected way. I decided I liked the story even more a few days after reading it, because it's one that doesn't quite leave you, and I think that's the best kind.

So that's a tough act to follow for the remaining three books. I think Lost & Found is up next, though the mix of tragedy and the comforting presence of a dog is a subject that will probably have me all emotional and weepy. For my husband's sake, I hope it's as quick a read as the last!


  1. You'll have to follow up with a review of the two books in the middle. I've never heard of them, so I'm anxious to hear if you like them. I've been eyeing that Weiner book every time I go to the book store. I have loved her writing so far.

  2. Okay Mary, if you are going to read a book about a man in a nursing home there usually is only one ending, this is coming from someone who owned a nuring home for three years. but the outcome isn't all bad, if you know where you are headed.