Most of the bloggers I know read books—c’mon, I know you guys do—but you never seem to mention anything you’ve been reading. I’m not talking about a big fancy New York Times Review of Books-type review, but I never hear so much as a peep about a book you’ve recently enjoyed—or didn’t. (Exception: Kim Ayres read the final Harry Potter before everyone ruined the ending for him.)
I am a compulsive novel reader because I like stories. If I wanted non-fiction, I would read the newspaper and the electric bill. With a lot of time spent in the prone position conserving my lungs, I’ve been reading more than ever. I’ve polished off some favorite classics and several 1,200-page fantasy novels this summer, but here are a few worth mentioning.
Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. This is a horror novel from the git-go and it never lets up. Turns out Joe is Stephen King’s son, but he has a style all his own. Martha and I both really liked it. Joe has a book of short stories called 20th Century Ghosts coming out on 10/16.
Blaze by Richard Bachman. Yes, Stephen King’s old pen name and yes, a Bachman-style book: More of a thriller than horror. Blaze is a person (vs. a forest fire) and he’s the first psychopath I’ve ever felt pity and sorrow for. Maybe that’s the horror—the reader feels sorry for a psycho.
Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke. Burke, a native Louisiana Cajun, writes his 16th novel about cop Dave Robicheaux—and maybe his last. The book is mostly about Hurricane Katrina, up close and personal and horrifying with lots of facts not publicized. This book is a heart breaker too as Burke mourns not only the loss of life, but also the loss of New Orleans—the beautiful antebellum and Victorian homes and neighborhoods that can never be rebuilt or restored.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This is the man who wrote The Kite Runner, which I defy anyone to put down once they’ve started it. Splendid follows two generations of characters from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to post-Taliban rebuilding (although in reality, the Taliban is back). The main character, Mariam, is a harami—a bastard—and Hosseini will literally jerk the tears out of your eyes.
The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer. Switch to Iran after the Revolution and the installation of the Ayatollah. We follow the story of another family, Jewish, but Isaac the father is falsely imprisoned for being loyal to the Shah instead of his religion. Sofer’s writing is beautiful, and I cannot understand why she’s isn’t on the bestseller list with Hosseini.
Okay, on to my current book, North River by Pete Hamill. Here are some tag words: New York City, Little Italy, the Great Depression, WWI, a doctor whose wife disappears, the same doctor whose daughter leaves her three-year-old son at his doorstep and disappears . . . nobody today writes about historical New York and the immigrants like Hamill.
So it’s off to bed to rest and read because I just love stories . . .