Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Vacation Reading

Inspired by an essay on The Millions called What I Read on My Summer Vacation, I decided to write what I read on my summer vacation - as it turns out, not that much. However, I can talk about the books that we talked about on my summer vacation:

1. A Prayer for Owen Meany. As this is our current club selection, I dutifully brought it with me to our trip to New Jersey. I'm halfway through, and it's proving to be slow, probably since much of the story takes place around Christmas, which makes for terrible summer vacation reading. But John Irving's a great writer, and Owen Meany is a great character. I'm pushing forward, with high hopes for the latter half.
2. A Widow For One Year. Another John Irving book, this time purchased at an awesome book store in Greenwich Village my wife and I stumbled upon called Three Lives & Company.
It is the quintessential corner bookshop, with low ceilings and dark-wood shelves. I bought the American edition of Widow to mark the event. I have read the book a few times already, so I probably won't actually read this edition, but it already looks great on the shelf.
3. Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. I've been thinking about Salinger a lot lately, for a few reasons. One, I recently reread Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, in which Salinger (or "Jerry") is a main character. Two, I recently rewatched Imagine: John Lennon and could not help but somehow implicate Salinger in Lennon's death, as Mark David Chapman was obsessed with Holden Caulfield and had a copy of Catcher in the Rye in his pocket when he shot Lennon to death. This feeling of tragedy was exacerbated by our visit to The Dakota and Strawberry Fields in Central Park:
Nine Stories is brilliant, however, so I forgave Salinger his involvement in the twisting of Chapman's mind.
4. Housekeeping vs. The Dirt. Nick Hornby's second collection of articles for The Believer are every bit as enjoyable as the other two. I can't really put into words what these books do for me, though "pure enjoyment" comes pretty close. And he talks about Miriam Toews in this one, which gets me even more excited, as I always feel a little bit of excitement whenever a Canadian is featured in an international-type program or book. The same is true for Owen Meany, as the protagonist eventually ends up in Toronto. Even though it's Toronto, I still think to myself, "cool, he's talking about Toronto!" I'm so Canadian.
5. Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Everybody's favourite book about a bookstore became my wife's beach book this summer. Since she liked it, a lot, I am inclined to read it sooner rather than later. In her words, "It's a strange, mysterious mystery. And strange."

6. Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson. Another American edition find. I shopped at Borders for this one, and was lucky enough to find an edition that is not available in Canada, making my biblioventure complete. My wife also recently finished this one, and liked it, a lot. It's a dark, dark mystery, set in Sweden and is part one of a trilogy. Part 2 is out now in hardcover, Girl Who Played With Fire, and the third one is set for release next summer. The author wrote the trilogy but died before its publication, and its subsequent translation from Swedish has been an interesting biblioventure in itself, as the entire trilogy, called the Millennium trilogy, has been fully translated into French, but not English. There's also a movie in the pipe, making this a burgeoning franchise opportunity. For all the hype, however, well-deserved, according to my wife.

That's my trip in books - look for less interesting posts in the days to come. Also, it's close to September reading time, so get your thinking caps on for a September book selection.


Bonnie said...

I believe I said The Shadow of the Wind is labyrinthine. And weird.

Also, you forgot bibliophile and bibliomaniac. And gotchies.

alan said...
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Jacks said...

Garry how is it possible that we have worked together for nearly 2 years and you haven't read Shadow of the Wind?! It's definitely a favourite of mine! (despite the Heather's Pick sticker - I read it first!) This is unforgiveable. Read it now. Seriously.