Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Double Shot of Books for Grown-ups

It is so unusual for me to have time to read two books that I won't ever recommend to my students--let alone two in a row. And yet, that is what I've just done!

Friday morning, I finished Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger. If it hadn't been the first week of school, I would have been done sooner--but I kept falling asleep as I tried to read! (This had nothing to do with the book, by the way, and everything to do with my level of sheer exhaustion as I readjusted away from my summer schedule.) It was such a compelling book--quite well-written, and it raised as many questions as it answered. Ridley Jones saves a young boy's life, and the fall-out of this heroic act is not what anyone could have predicted. A few weeks later, she receives an envelope that contains an old photo of a young family with the terrible question, "Are you my daughter?" Her adventure--at times harrowing, at times heart-breaking--begins.  I am not often one for the crime/thriller genre, but this was a wonderful departure

The hardest thing to do upon finishing a really, really good book is to find another book that doesn't disappoint. But last night I picked up Rebecca Barry's brilliant Later, at the Bar and didn't put it down--well, except to sleep--until I was done. This "novel in stories" allowed me to enjoy years with old friends while here in the comfort of my living room. Set in upstate New York (an hour or so from here, I'd guess), this collection of short stories allows the reader to see the world through the eyes of various patrons of Lucy's Tavern. We laugh, we love, and we live with them in the pages of this book, which was perhaps the best book I have read this year. It was, quite simply, real. There is no judgment in its pages, just the true story of a group of regulars. When I reread this book (which I will), I will be sure to have a glass of whisky, neat, in my other hand.

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