Last week I mentioned how happy it made me to dig back into an old favorite. This week I experienced the equally thrilling prospect of reading a book which I didn't know much about at all. Tuesday evening I started to read the Dogs of Babel. I bought this book at my favorite little overstocks store for $3.00. I bought it because it seemed familiar. I am not even sure that I read the back of the book. I might have, but since I bought it at least six months ago, I didn't even remember that. I love to jump into a book knowing very little about it. That's one reason that I don't like to give detailed reviews about a book--because I don't like to read detailed reviews myself. Paul is a professor whose wife Lexy dies unexpectedly and somewhat mysteriously one day, with only their dog Lorelei as a witness. That tells you enough--that perhaps you might not want to read about such a topic, or that you you do. I was so captivated by this book that I read it all in two sittings. I read for at least three hours Tuesday night and another hour and half or so the next day. The writing is beautiful, the emotion is real (although I didn't find it overwhelmingly sad), and the human drama is suspenseful as Paul takes a trip down memory lane as he recalls their marriage and courtship as a means of processing the end of her life. I've heard several people say that if you read the Memory Keeper's Daughter, you should try to avoid knowing anything about it. That book is on my to-be-read list, and the amazon listing says, "Customers who bought this book also bought" the Memory Keeper's Daughter, along with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I've also been hearing about a lot lately. So that is yet another incentive to check out those books. If you've read either of those, it is likely that you would like this one as well.
In my effort to revive our dinners, I just bought a new cookbook, and I actually tried a recipe last night--Oh Baby! Pasta with Shrimp, Grape Tomatoes, and Baby Arugula. It tasted fresh and original and I think that we all enjoyed it. Rachel Ray's latest cookbook is a bit different, because in addition to her signature 30-Minute Meals, it also contains 15-Minute Meals and 60-Minute Meals. I think it will be a keeper.
Melissa at Breath of Life asked me what Amanda was reading these days. She's actually enjoyed some of the review copies that have come my way, including third in the Ivy and Bean series from Chronicle books (she had already discovered the first two on her own) and two books in the Jack Russell Dog Detective series from Kane/Miller. Both of these books are probably more suited to earlier readers, but when a shorter chapter book delivers compelling stories and characters, they extend their readability, and are a great option for more reluctant older readers, or those like Amanda who will take advantage of any bound paper containing words and a story as long as it holds her interest.
She also really enjoyed Will it Blow: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens. It has great photographs as well as sidebars and cartoon drawings explaining the ins and outs of volcanic eruptions.