Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sheer Entertainment

I try to keep my novel consumption at a dull roar, mostly because once I start a good book that actually has a story line (nonfiction, I'm looking at you), it's really hard for me to put it down. In my previous life, back before kids, this was not such an issue. The Man is extremely understanding about my lack of a need to come up for air while reading. The four hooligans I raise, however...not so much.

But every now and then, the library sends you an email, late on a Friday afternoon, letting you know that they have a whole stack of novels waiting just for you. So, you grab the twins (you have twins in this scenario--there should be twins in lots of imaginary scenarios because it automatically makes things more exciting) and leave the big boys jumping on the neighbor's trampoline and race to the library arriving a minute before you thought it was supposed to close (although, it turns out you killed yourself running while carrying 60 pounds of twins for no good reason because they don't actually close for another hour) and then saunter home with reading material that might last the whole weekend!

It did, but only because we had guests for dinner Sunday night.

Anyway, I feel like that was a really long rabbit trail that was only engaging for me. Also, in the interest of fairness, you should know that one of the books I picked up, I had already read (I don't know what happened...I'm so confused) and then I wasted a good hour or so trying to figure out when I had blogged about it, and lo and behold, I never had! For future reference: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner--it was a well written story about the friendship between two couples. It would make for a great discussion book as it hits hard on a lot of fascinatingly controversial topics.

And that was another rabbit trail. All I really wanted to tell you about is this: some days (weeks) you stumble across books that are sheer entertainment, start to finish. The three books on this list are just that.

I started with The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. All the book references and especially all the book snobbery made my heart so happy, but the character development and the mystery kept the whole book moving. I did make a spot on guess as to the whodunnit, but figuring it out ahead of time didn't take the fun out of it for me. If you are a book nerd and especially if you have a soft spot for bookstores or short stories, it's a must read. {Special shout out: one of my old college professors, Richard Bausch, had a short story referenced, which was extra fun for me. He used to lick his glasses while he lectured.}

Next up, I breezed through Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I am about as far from a video gamer as you can possibly get, but this futuristic world where everyone survives primarily in virtual reality was incredibly engaging. It was funny and quirky and, oh, all the eighties references. I died. I was so sucked into this book that I tried reading while putting together Easter dinner. No lie. It's a miracle I didn't lose a finger reading and chopping carrots simultaneously. And there was a satisfying ending, which is as it should be. Also, now I really need to know: does Angry Birds count as a video game? Because if so, I'm now totally more awesome than I thought I was.

Lastly, I finished The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton. If you are looking for a book that you can't out guess, this one is for you. Although after all the twists and turns are done (and it's way past your bed time because you just couldn't put it down), you will lie in bed kicking yourself for not figuring it out earlier because Morton dutifully gave you the hints you needed if you had just paid attention better.  Spanning from WWII through to the 21st century, I loved watching as each thread of the family mystery unraveled.

I refuse to give book summaries, that's what Amazon is for, but if you want a book to entertain your socks off, any of these three will do.

Now, with that said, I don't read books where I agree with all of the choices made by all of the characters. One of the great things about reading is being able to engage with characters who are completely different from us, thereby enabling us to learn empathy. These books are not squeaky clean. Know what you want to put in your mind and read accordingly. This is a much longer conversation than I'm going to engage in right now though, so...moving on...

One last plug and then I'm out for the night. If you're looking for a twenty minute inspirational read with lots of Harry Potter references (and I'm sure that something of that sort has been on your "Must Find To Read" list, just like all of us want a good book about ninja unicorns), Very Good Lives is the book form of J. K. Rowling's speech at Harvard's commencement in 2008. It was quick but encouraging, humbling, and funny all at the same time. And not just sheer entertainment, if that's not exactly your thing.

The rest of us, though, will pat ourselves on the back for having read some non-fiction for once, and then go on back to our very engaging novels and the resulting lack of sleep they bring.


  1. Hmmm make good choices! Sleep should sometimes come before books when you have twins! 😏 Glad you enjoyed your reading!

  2. Interesting. I'll have to check for these books--the "Free" online pdf versions. :)