First Books

I know, you're all on the edge of your seat wondering what the first book I chose to read in 2012 was. I'm going to tell you, just so you don't fall out of your chair. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

I should start this by saying that I'm not overly into the idea of the circus. It doesn't call to me, I've never been to one, they don't do anything for me. This book absolutely captivated me. It's set in the late 1800's to early 1900's and there is magic in the air. The two main characters have been pitted against each other in some sort of game, and they don't understand what it is (neither do you) until the end. I listened to this book and highly recommend that approach (Jim Dale, the reader, is famous for his Harry Potter readings), but think that you could get just as much from it if you read it traditionally. Although I was skeptical of something that had so much pre-publication buzz, I enjoyed it very much. I think you might too.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.

This book was just turned into a movie with Katherine Heigl. I saw the movie. I read the book first. The movie was better than the book. I do not say that lightly. Perhaps it's because this book was published in the early to mid-nineties and things were a lot less sleek then. Perhaps it was the slightly raunchy and artless way that everything is described. I didn't find it funny, I found it crass. This is an example of a bestseller. Not only this book, but the entire series (now up to 18). I've said that I'm leery of bestsellers before. This book represents why. If you're curious, see the movie.

Book of Dreams by Davis Bunn.

This is a work of Christian magical realism that I found fast-paced, interesting and hard to put down. As with all plot-driven fiction, I would have wished for a bit more fleshing out of the characters, but I did get to know the main ones, have some emotional investment in them and hope that things work out well. The sequel comes out this summer. Be warned that you may be slightly cliff-hung.

Haiku for the Single Girl by Beth Griffenhagen. 

I include this book merely to show that there are actual book of haiku out there that people apparently buy. Who would have thought. Also, while many of these poems (which managed to sound unbelievably spoken) were a little on the offensive side, there were quite a few that I found relatable, funny and introspective.

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart.

You never know with memoir. This is the true story of a woman and her good friend who were in college in the 1940's and decided to go to New York City and get jobs for the summer. They ended up being some of the first women to work at Tiffany. This could have been boring or slow or overly detailed, but it wasn't. It was a delightful look at a world that I can never know or visit, except through wonderful, lyrical words like these. I would recommend this to anyone who has ever been nostalgic, young or dreamed about visiting Tiffany.

There is No Long Distance Now by Naomi Shihab Nye.

Dear Naomi, I love your poetry, especially 19 Varieties of Gazelle. I even love your book about traveling (creative non-fiction). However, I’m afraid that I don’t love your attempts at fiction or microfiction. I keep wanting to say: that is a great line. It should be in a poem.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.

I listened to this, the first Flavia De Luce mystery and fell in love with the impetuous 11-year old with a flair for poison, chemistry and excitement. She’s living in 1950’s England and her wit and charm and moxie are undeniable. I just love her. The book itself is extremely literate and well-written with wonderful little gems of words you don't often hear (especially out of the mouth of an 11-year-old). The reader did a great job with this and I'd recommend the audiobook, if you're into that sort of thing. I can't wait until the next adventure!

What are you reading?