Sometimes I worry that my enthusiasm for these books doesn’t come across enough in these posts. I mean, I love books. They are my life. I think you guys get that.

If, for some reason that was not clear, please see this post from forever ago, and this post from…last week?

In any case, that buffer probably works in your favor in this particular case. If you want the full effect of my enthusiasm for this book, imagine me jumping up and down saying “Guys! Guys! Guysguysguys! Guuuuuuys! Guys! This book is so good guys! Guys!”

Yes. This book is so good it makes me sound like an idiot. And I’m basically OK with that.

I was supposed to go for a run today. I was looking forward to it because I had to skip my other workouts this week to work on a project that was sucking out my soul. But instead of changing into my gear and heading to the gym, I plopped on my bed and picked up where I left off when the train reached my station.

I don’t even know where to begin explaining the awesome.

First of all — the title. Well, you had me there. A 24-hour bookstore? Sold!

The narrative voice in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is great. Even though I am not this person, I really identify with the narrator (as I think many bookish people will) and the story just pulls you in. It’s a cool scene and then it becomes interesting and then intriguing and then you can’t focus on anything else.

I’ve been smiling to myself in public all over the place while reading this book which I think is almost as awkward as crying in public because of a book, but I can only shudder to think of what would have occurred had I been in public while reading the final chapters of this book. I was giggling and yelling out theories and exclaiming all over the place. My cat was very confused. It was spectacular.

I’ve been meaning to write a separate post exploring this (and I possibly still will), but I think I will be buying my own copy of this book in the near future (I’m reading a library copy — it was just sitting there on the shelf. I didn’t have to place a hold or anything!). I wonder how I will feel about this upon re-reading it. I want to know how other people feel about this book, because I am feeling the love.

Incurable Bibliophilia

March 16, 2013

The other day I stopped by my local branch of the library to pick up two of my holds that had finally come in. When I went to check them out I asked the guy behind the desk if the others I had requested were still marked as “in transit.” He dutifully checked and — get this — involuntarily lifted an eyebrow.

At first I thought it might have been a judge-y reaction to one of the books I was checking out (a lá why is a grown woman reading YA?), but then I realized that the far more likely explanation was that he was reacting to the combined number of books I had checked out and on hold.

Basically the dude thinks I’m a book hoarder and I totally am. I will stand up and announce to the world

I am Poindextrix. I love books. I secret them away and have stacks of them next to my bed (and kind of all over my apartment). I am addicted. I do not plan on seeking help.

Also, let’s be real. NYPL’s loan times are pretty short, especially for books with long waiting lists, and when I have tons of books out, they’re always overdue. You need my late fees NYPL. I will pay them. Don’t raise your individual eyebrows at me (eyebrow? One institution, so one collective individual eyebrow?).

Does anyone else ever get strange looks from people re: large numbers of books from the library?

Back in Maryland I would routinely walk out of the public library with upwards of five books. I would go in to return one or two and walk out with four… or seven.

It’s a sickness. The best kind. And it’s totally incurable.

I finished Mo Yan’s Life and Death are Wearing Me Out quite a while ago, but didn’t have a chance to review it until now, so here’s a mini-review for you:

Life and Death are Wearing Me Out was, in a word, awesome. I love how the narrative thread continued throughout each of the incarnations. Sometimes it was a little difficult to figure out the relationships, especially in the alter stories when he would switch the point of view, but for the most part it was way easier than it probably should have been to follow something so complex.

Non-Fiction Reviews

March 14, 2013

I have this unfortunate habit of reading a bunch of books in rapid succession and then forgetting to post reviews. I should work on that.

Anyway, I recently went on a bit of a non-fiction binge in my reading (though admittedly there were still a few novels mixed in here and there). It’s not that I don’t like non-fiction; I really do, it’s just that I find novels so enticing!

Anywho, onwards!

I found The Druggist of Auschwitz interesting, but it felt really disjointed and confused to me. Though that could have been because I was reading it along with four or five other books. Even so, it never felt particularly clear exactly whose story he was trying to tell. Dr. Capesius, the druggist, figures prominently, obviously, but he certainly isn’t the protagonist. And yet none of the other (for lack of a better word) characters really fit the bill either. It was an interesting/horrifying glimpse at that aspect of the camps, but it didn’t feel like it told a cohesive story.

HHhH was fascinating and a very quick read for me. I can see how some people wouldn’t like that style, but it worked for me. And the short chapters made it particularly well-suited for subway reading as it was easy to get to a decent stopping point. What’s interesting to me is that the BookRiot piece is what turned me on to this book, and it focused so much on the author’s seemingly pathological need to make everything reflect reality. I certainly got the impression that he wanted things to be accurate, but I think I perceived this book quite differently than the two writers from BookRiot. Either way, I’m glad that I read the review that encouraged me to read it as it is a phenomenal book.

I’m not usually emotionally affected by non-fiction (which, now that I think about it, seems kind of contrary — why do I relate more to fictional characters?), but The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks definitely had me in an emotional stronghold. It was fabulous. I was all over the place and nearly cried in inappropriate (physical) places on multiple occasions. Basically, I was a mess, but it was totally worth it. Read it. Read it now. That’s all I have to say.

I’m actually still in the midst of the non-fiction binge I guess, since I’m reading two other books right now (though on less depressing subjects —why do two out of three of the books I just reviewed deal with WWII/the Holocaust and the other with medical ethics?) and waiting for a memoir to come in at the library.

A While ago I finished In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helprin.

Helprin’s writing is really sweeping and florid and it kind of took me a little while to get into it, but once I found a good rhythm I was hooked. This is only the third book of his I’ve read, but I really need to read more of his stuff because whenever I do I’m completely transported.

This book has received mixed reviews on Goodreads and I can see how some people could feel that these characters were cliched, and maybe they are, but I think that the writing elevates them and makes them spectacular.

I really should have seen the ending coming from a mile away, and even when it was clear that nothing else could possibly happen I was still in denial. I can’t decide if that is a good or bad thing.

So yeah, it’s been a while since I finished this book and I’m still thinking about it, which is usually a good sign. I would like to re-read it at some point, but there are so many other books that I need to read first! I’m reading Born to Run and Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking right now, though I think I’m going to need to find some fiction to throw into the mix as well.

Review — Gone Girl

March 5, 2013

I finally got my chance to read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

While reading Gone Girl I experienced what I have come to call the Salinger Effect — I can read and enjoy a book while still really disliking the characters.

But actually, my feelings about Gone Girl are more complex and/or convoluted than my typical feelings for Salinger books, because I’m not even sure I actually liked it. It was really good and I couldn’t put it down, but it was bizarre and the characters really bothered me.

Flynn created quite the page turner and I can honestly say that she kept me guessing throughout the whole thing.

But the characters… I just really didn’t like them. At all. Even when really terrible things were happening to them I didn’t feel as badly for them as I probably should have.

Is this ever an issue for you? Can you enjoy a book even when you dislike or just plain hate the characters?