Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An embarrassment of riches

My friend, Naomi, and I loooovvveee the library and we looooovvvveee to use the online hold list so that exactly what we want to read comes right to our local library, right to the front desk. We keep the list stacked because sometimes you're the 400th person in line, or sometimes you're first but it still takes 3 weeks for it to show up from Sherman Oaks. It's a thing, too, because they recently made a policy that although placing a hold is free, if you don't pick up your book within 10 days they charge you a dollar. Perfectly fair and appropriate, but some weeks it becomes a giddy race to get there in time. Not because we mind giving the library a dollar - I frankly wish they had a donation box at the door - but missing the book would be a disaster especially if you've been waiting for the Omnivore's Dilemma since April.
Last week SIX books on my list came in and two more are on the way. So I am reading A LOT. You never know how long you can renew an interlibrary loan book until you try it. I regret that I skimmed through a couple I probably would have savored.

Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison - brother of Augusten Burroughs. It is his story of having grown up with Asperger's syndrome at a time when no one even had a name for it. Most touching was when he told how adults thought that he preferred to play alone, but really he never wanted to be alone. It was that he was such a failure at making friends that he knew he couldn't really be around other children and it was the most bitter disappointment of his life.

The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan. This novel revolves around a soldier during WWII who is in the bomb squad and he is sent on detail to Alaska to look into the mysterious bombs arriving stateside by balloon from Japan. The balloons, by the way, really came here but were not successful in a big way. Perhaps because the press agreed to suppress reports of found balloons, the Japanese may have thought it wasn't working. One balloon did hit the mark in Klamath, Oregon and was responsible for the only WWII casualties on the US mainland due to enemy causes.
Anyway, that's not really all the novel is about. The main character falls in love with a half Russian, half Yup'ik Eskimo woman. I can't say how they are connected without ruining the story, but it was very interesting and sad, and not at all trite and predictable. I didn't really have to rush through this one - it was very fast and interesting reading and it came early in the deluge.

I did rush through House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielwski, as much as you can rush through a book that is more than 700 pages and has 3 - 4 narratives going on at a time. Maybe I'll try to get back to it someday and I haven't turned it in yet because I'm not sure I'm done with it. Actually, I'm not going to try to explain too much. Reading it is not so much reading as it is strategizing. The basic story revolves around a documentary made about a house where rooms and hallways appeared out of thin air. Before calling in any authorities or the press the owner hires some men to come in and take an expedition into the depths of the house. They are gone a loooonnnnngggg time. The owner, his brother, and a friend go on a rescue mission.

There's more but that's enough for now. Back to the books.

1 comment:

Aunt Susan said...

When I was a young girl, your grandma used to take me to the library every Saturday. We spent the entire day there and then walked home with our treasure trove of books. She gifted me with the love of reading. It's so wonderful that we all love to read.