Who wants to be thematic all the time? Not this blogger! I have recently read three books that have absolutely nothing to do with one another. AND they’re all so terrific that I can’t possibly keep them to myself. So let’s toss the themed blog post to the winds and go in three directions at once!
We’ll start with the most monumental of the three, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. My advice to anyone who’s going to take on more than eight hundred pages of chasing down the white whale is to take your time. In my case, Heights Libraries has a three week loan period with five renewals, and it took me all of those renewals to finish Moby Dick. And it was so, so worth it. Moby Dick is chock full of unexpected beauty and drama and humor. I plan to read it again, in a few years, because now I’ve already read it! Hear me roar! and I am certain that this is a book I want to know well.
Jumping forward into the twentieth century, I have been reveling in Constant Reader, a volume of book reviews written by the incomparable Dorothy Parker between 1927 and 1933. Nobody but Mrs. Parker could write such witty, engaging reviews and keep me hooked, reading about books I never even heard of that were published eighty years ago. Judging by some of her reviews, it’s probably good that I never heard of some of them. I am sorely tempted to begin quoting from her reviews; but I know that once begun, I would not be able to stop. Final note: Constant Reader is a featured title on one of the Matchmakers’ Centennial bookmarks. Stop by the library and get one today!
One final leap forward in time to a debut novel published in 2015. It’s called Two Across, and was written by Jeff Bartsch, who I have to imagine must be quite a wordsmith. The book includes spelling bees, faked college applications, and most of all, crossword puzzles. I would never have thought that crossword puzzles could work so effectively as plot devices; in fact, it would never have occurred to me to even wonder about crosswords as plot devices. Yet here they are, integrated into the plot in such a fashion as to make them essential to the story, which is original and very clever. You can tell I liked this book because I’m putting Mr. Bartsch into the same blog post as Mr. Melville and Mrs. Parker, and I contend that he belongs there.
There you are! Three books that I think are marvelous. I hope you will too.
Just to round things out with a few more unrelated dazzlers:
The Book of Salt by Monique Truong
Miller’s Valley by Anna Quindlen