Saturday, November 24, 2007

One Day: One Book

On Friday night, I began reading The Thirteenth Tale for my Moms-with-Kids-who-were-in- Kindergarten-together Book Club. We're meeting December 13th, in some kind of numerical coincidence.
In any case, I started the book around 8:30 on Friday night and read until just past midnight. I thought Middlebrow was still reading too, but unbeknownst to me he had fallen asleep. Then I got up today and, after dropping Son at a playdate, finished the book. It's a recent record for me, one book in less than 24 hours.
Reading this book was a relief, as lately I'd had a hard time getting into any book. I love the feeling of getting so wrapped up in a story that things like sleeping and eating seem less important. But then there's also that feeling when the book is over. A kind of elation, but also the let down. The world of that book is closed now, though in a way it's still alive inside you. If the book was really good, you go over parts of it again and again in your mind. The characters are vivid.
I liked many things about this book: the narrator's voice (distinctive and clear, but unobtrusive), the plot (a mystery, but really a family mystery about characters and relationships between them), the structure (divided into sections, "Beginnings," "Middles," and "Ends"), and many of the little details (the narrator is a biographer who has written an article on a certain set of twins, her father owns a rare book shop), the writing. The book has some beautiful sentences which are heavy on insight into the human character. But I didn't mind that.
And it has closure, and a somewhat happy ending. No loose threads to annoy the mind.
I was going over my list of books read this year, and I think this is definitely one of my favorites. My mom has a five star rating system, and she hardly ever gives anything five stars. She's a librarian, so she's read a lot and has many books to compare against one another.
But this was a five star book, definitely.
Next on my bedside table: The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I've heard great things about her writing. One friend (from the book group) said she couldn't put it down. She also said her mother called her and told her she had just finished it and, when she hung up from talking with her daughter, was going to read it again. I look forward to it.
Winter (especially vacation) is the time for reading, especially reading a book a day. Okay, maybe every three or four days. Or five, depending on how much movie watching is taking place.


Lisa B. said...

What an inspiring story. I find myself having a hard time getting into a book--so when you have the experience you describe, it feels like a blessed relief, in addition to all the wonders of getting taken up by a story. I aspire to do what you did, and soon.

ErinAlice said...

I saw that book the other day-I believe our oldest sister read it for book club and said she didn't care for it???? Anyway, I enjoy reading over winter break as well. No homework to get in the way. Happy Reading

susansinclair said...

I also enjoyed that book--which I read because I wanted to go to a book club meeting, which turned out to be when I was out of town--so much for that effort at expanding my social life! Anyway, I enjoyed it, but it seemed, well, a bit done? You know? And yet well worth reading--lots of metameta about narrative and stories and all.

Limon de Campo said...

I love Lionel Shriver, and The Post-Birthday World is one of my favorites. I've been looking forward to reading The Thirteenth Tale, so I shall bump it to the top of my list.

If you are in the mood for nonfiction, I recommend Susan Faludi's new book about 9/11. I read the whole thing this week. Superb!!