Libraries and I usually don’t get along.
I know; a biblio-nerd like me is not supposed to say that. But I have reasons! Many and varied reasons (fines) (deadlines), but the most relevant reason right now is that I’m a devoted re-reader, and so reading a library book and really loving it is SO HARD for me. I don’t want to give it back! I want to own it! And sometimes I want to own the glorious hardback edition I checked out of the library, not the shoddily bound paperback I will be able to find (or afford). I know this is exactly why many people like libraries, because you get to test-drive the book before dropping your cash on the counter, but the pain of letting go of a book I’ve truly enjoyed and know I will want to revisit again and again? So painful. The books below are the books that have made me feel this way most recently, both library books:
The Post-Birthday World: A Novel : If you read Shriver’s genius and dark bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin, you’ll be surprised, I think, at how much you’ll enjoy this book even though it’s radically different. Shriver once again builds a convincing and charismatic female narrator who is at once distinctive and relatable, and the novel is based on a “Sliding Doors” style plot; the plot moves along until the narrator must decide whether or not to kiss the handsome snooker player (not her husband), and then the chapters alternate from there with two different futures, based on whether or not the kiss happened. It’s amazing to me because the book is so clearly and ccleverly plotted in a very deliberate way, but it never seems to creak under the weight of the ambitious structure, and I found myself totally immersed in this world, with these people. There’s a lot to think about here in terms of marriage (do we ever really know our spouses?) and destiny (are we ever really satisfied with our own choices, or is the grass always greener?), but I also just thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. So good.
Horns: A Novel: Even before the NYT magazine cover story, I’d made a quiet resolution to read all the King family books still in print–I didn’t know Owen King was married to a novelist, so I’ve added that to my list, but I think I’ve got the vast majority of the elder King’s work done already, and I’ve made a good dent in Joe Hill’s work now that I’ve finished Horns. This is a dark and intricate book that has a murder mystery at the heart of it, but there’s also the titular horns, which the protagonist wakes up with one day and which allow him to read the thoughts of people around him. Unfortunately, he realizes that most of his family and friends believe that he killed his ex-girlfriend the year before and are desperate to get him out of their lives. This was a good read, and I’m looking forward to finding and reading Hill’s collection of short stories so I can say I’ve read all of his work, but I’m also glad to have found an interesting new novelist.
I also really enjoyed this most recent trip to the library for sentimental reasons; we visited the downtown branch of our city system, where I used to take the girls for story circles and then to visit the indoor fish pond. I watched my girls dash from shelf to shelf and stack their choices high, and I was so glad to see that they have found something valuable and precious between the pages of books, just like I always have.
- Inside Stephen King’s Writing-Obsessed Family (newser.com)
- Stephen King’s Family Business – A New York Times Magazine Cover Story (firewireblog.com)
- Stephen King (acomanda.wordpress.com)