Bookpile: January 2011

The Sheen on the Silk – A rare stand-alone book from Anne Perry, one my favorite authors. This time, she’s taking us to Constantinople during the time of the Crusades. It’s a story in a world that is really foreign to us, full of misdirection, intrigue, politics and religion. We see the Crusades for what they really are – political machines to drive men’s ambitions – and the seamy underside of the Catholic church’s politics. But the machinations of the Byzantines are no cleaner, just more upfront at times. A fascinating journey through a period of time I haven’t explored much. Humongous book that took up a big chunk of the month.

The Art of Non-Conformity – Finally got around to finishing this one. Not because I’m slow (hardly) but because books like this are meant to encourage change in our lives and you’ll miss the impact if you just plow through it quickly. Been working on it for several months now, actually, reading sections here and there. And … hard to say whether there’s change afoot as a result. I already bought into most of this, but I definitely see where enacting it isn’t always the easiest thing. Matter of living by your principles. Which opens a whole ‘nuther can of worms when you have a family to consider. But a great read if you’re willing to go at it with an open mind and truly try to live by the concept. (Oh, and I’m in the book. Which is part of how I met Chris. Who is a really great guy.)

*A Christmas Carol – I was a little nervous about this one. I read David Copperfield back in high school (for fun) and loved it but couldn’t make it through upon re-reading. Archaic language makes you think too hard and sucks out the fun. Sometimes. But this one was a real delight. Nothing new to the story you already know, although Hollywood has certainly changed and adapted the details to suit its purposes over the years. But the reading – a delight, actually. Dickens had me laughing in the first few pages and I throughly enjoyed my trip through some familiar territory. (I read the Kindle version, which is free. Woot!)

*The Sleep Book – Isn’t this list supposed to be books you’d want to be if there were no books? And the two choices from Dr. Seuss are the ABCs and The Sleep Book. Seriously? Who picked those? This book is lovely (adore the end papers) and classic Dr. Seuss both lyrically and visually. But it’s not exactly a story with much weight to it. Nor would it make any sense at all if there weren’t any pictures to go with it. It’s fun to read out loud, but fun is about it. Better choices would have been The Lorax or The Butter Battle Book or The Sneetches and Other Stories or Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, for my money. (Disclosure: Kevin picked Green Eggs and Ham when I asked him. Obviously, YMMV on this one.)

Frenzy – Last book in the Dreamhouse Kings series and sadly a bit of a letdown to the whole thing. Shouldn’t have surprised me that since we’re traveling around in time that we’re going to run into Jesus at some point. But it irked me when we did. Which in turn irked me. It’s a fantasy series, but I had a hard time believing that Jesus touched David and the entire family was healed. Just what kind of God do I believe in, anyway? He’s not trapped by linear time, so of course he could do that. But it just felt contrived as part of the story. But I digress. The story just felt a little unfinished overall, but if you read the interview at the end (now that I’ve spoiled part of the book for you), you find out it’s not the end of the King family stories. And in fact, given the lack of overarching enemy and story going forward, the way he’s going to go about continuing their tale makes a lot of sense. Plus, it’s kind of cool from a marketing standpoint. Me likes.

* – Denotes a 451 Challenge book

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