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My vacation was too short.  I had so many plans, so many things to do and so many books to read.  All of which I didn’t do.

Choosing a books (or multiple books if you are me) for vacation is difficult to do well.  Though I normally eschew nonfiction for mind candy fiction (hence Mr. Hitchens was put on hold), my brain would just not cooperate this past week.  Nothing suited me.  The plain Jane book I was reading (The God of Animals) was dispensed with too quickly on Day One.  Day Two consisted of Jon Katz new book (Dog Days)  dependably pleasant as always but also too quickly gone.

So I was left to sullenly and contrarily perused my shelves, standing in amazement (again!) that I have read them all (seriously how does that happen?) and ultimately went to the store and bought The Yiddish Policemen’s Union: A Novel by Michael Chabon. But put it down; it was too Jewish for vacation (don’t ask me what that means, I don’t really know. I partially blame the aforementioned Mr. Hitchens however) and would likely to require some thought.   So I turned to Melissa Bank (The Wonder Spot), whose first book of stories left me cold, but her “new” novel was on sale for $5.  It too, turned out to be too Jewish.  What to do?

Fantasy – it was my only answer.  Read the rest of this entry »

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This blog would be remiss if one of us didn’t at least mention Harry Potter, so here’s a brief note. Harry and J.K. have weathered some harsh criticisms over the years (and it’s been a decade, can you believe it?  If you were eleven like Harry when you read book one, you can read Deathly Hallows at a bar!) but I for one am willing to forgive practically everything (I say practically because I don’t know what is in store for the finale. I hope and pray J.K. will not let us down).  I unabashedly adore Harry Potter and turn a conscious blind eye and ear to such criticisms.

I spent the majority of last night ignoring my dirty house, my pets and Tim so I could finish Harry Potter.  In preparation for the newest book I used to read the entire series, something that is near impossible nowadays with the number of books and their inordinate length (oh yeah and my lack of time).  So this time I settled for a Half Blood Prince re-read.   I’m glad I did.  I estimate that I’ve read about 200 books since this book came out two years ago (and yeah, I bought it the first day and read it the next day!).  It’s hard to keep stories straight when they’re so involved (although one of the criticisms that J.K. recieves is that she offers clues to past stories in each of her books. I say THANK YOU, since I’m an old lady with a failing memory lately – not a vibrant 10 year old with nothing else to worry about. I need the help). 

Now I’m ready. 

Or am I?  Despite my excitement, it’s still hard to believe that the next book is the last book. 

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What to read next? It’s probably one of the most exciting and frustrating questions a reader can ask.  It’s a tough question.  Tougher still if you are a discerning reader looking for something new and interesting. 

Though I like a good mind candy, beach read book as much as the next person, I’m a little more demanding when it comes to “good reads.” If it’s currently on the NYT bestseller list (Harry Potter being the exception), I don’t read it.  If I see more than two people on the subway reading, I skip it.  If it’s in the top 100 on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, I’ll pass.  A good website for fiction for the anti-masses is bas bleu though they have been known to be very wrong (the Hazards of Good Breeding and Lucy are two notable examples). 

The safest bet is to ask other reader friends.  Reading is an experience made more enjoyable by sharing.  The simple phrase “You gotta read this!” makes what is necessarily a solitary activity suddenly a social one.  It’s the one thing guaranteed to drag us – hard core readers that is – out of our shells.  We hold up our titles like recent travellers with a photo album.  We want others to read – to see what we saw and to live what we lived.

Read the rest of this entry »

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