Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On Reading Alphabetically

     A few weeks ago, Ida, a customer 92 years old and still going strong, asked me to recommend a book.  She had just finished The Sense of an Ending  by Julian Barnes and wanted some more “serious” reading.  After further discussion, I recommended Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. 

   “Let me see it first,” she demanded.  I brought her the 544 page book.  Without even opening it she shook her head and said, “No, that won’t do.”  When I asked why she rejected it off the bat, she told me it was just too long. "I want to be sure I’ll be around to finish it,” she explained.
   That interaction got me thinking about how people choose the books they read from the myriad titles available.  Clearly Ida knew what she wanted:  serious books under 200 pages.  But what criteria do other people use? 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Dinner by Herman Koch

Tweet:  Reading this book was like unwrapping a beautiful package only to be surprised by a ticking time bomb hidden inside.  A terrific, albeit disconcerting, read.

     Peering through the window of a posh Amsterdam restaurant, you see two well heeled couples enjoying an evening out together.  Slowly you begin to realize that there is much more to this dinner than merely a shared meal.  You develop a persistent, vague discomfort that something extremely nasty lays beneath this well mannered vignette, and before you know it the civility unravels completely to reveal a disturbingly fascinating story.  This is The Dinner by Herman Koch, and it is a wonderfully crafted novel.