Sometimes you just want to try something completely different from what you usually read. Of course the problem then is finding something you’ll enjoy. One thing I often remind myself is that books are no longer an assignment! I can take home a variety of titles to try, and if they don’t have my interest after a certain number of chapters, then back they go. It was hard to do this at first, I’ll admit. Not finishing a book seems “wrong” somehow, and there are some books that are difficult to read, but ultimately gratifying in the end so I am glad I kept going. But on the other hand, if I’m not enjoying a book, why spend the time forcing myself to finish it? It’s a tough call and only the reader can decide which books to set aside. With all that said, below are some titles I tried over the years and found to be worth reading “cover to cover”!
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
This poignant story follows nine year old Oskar Schell and his extended family as they cope with the loss of father/husband/son in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Along the way, Oskar meets many interesting characters as he tries to find the lock that goes to a key left behind by his father. An engaging, sometimes humorous, and thought- provoking study of human nature creatively presented through words and pictures.
Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
I’m not a huge nonfiction reader, but I “devoured” this fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the life of a food critic for the New York Times. What I found most compelling is the author’s reflections on creating disguises (to maintain her anonymity) and what she learns from the different personas she adopts. It is especially interesting to see the different ways she is treated based on her appearance and demeanor. Written prior to 9/11, it is bittersweet to hear her experiences dining in New York City, particularly the Windows on the World Trade Center Restaurant. I listened to the book and found the audio version captivating! (Nonfiction – B Reichl)
Passage by Willis, Connie
It is unfortunate that the Science Fiction label will keep many people from picking up this well-written, thoughtful book. It is more accurately “speculative” fiction – posing the question about what it must be like in the seconds after a person dies, making the passage from life to death. An interesting question, with a most original theory (and a twist at the end that might drive you nuts). I can’t say I “loved” this book, but it is definitely different!
Any Human Heart by William Boyd
This lengthy novel reads as if it were truly the personal diaries of a real person. Logan Mountstuart is a typical well-born Englishman, but his globetrotting ways lead him to a variety of experiences including fighting in the Spanish Civil War, spying for the British in WWII, and meeting all sorts of twentieth-century notables, from Picasso to Ian Fleming. He is a flawed character, and yet is universally recognizable – and someone you’ll miss when the story ends.
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