Join me on a tour of my book closet … erm … library. Every week – or other week, or whenever I remember to write one of these posts – we’ll take a look at another whack of books I may (or may not) have read.

To recap, this is where we are:


Last time, I went over the left half of the shelf, so today it’s time to look at the right:

Right half ...
Right half …

Finally! A book I have read: Absurdistan. And it is a really funny one, too. Here is the book description from Amazon (because I’m lazy and also the opposite of concise):

Meet Misha Vainberg, aka Snack Daddy, a 325-pound disaster of a human being, son of the 1,238th-richest man in Russia, proud holder of a degree in multicultural studies from Accidental College, USA (don’t even ask), and patriot of no country save the great City of New York. Poor Misha just wants to live in the South Bronx with his hot Latina girlfriend, but after his gangster father murders an Oklahoma businessman in Russia, all hopes of a U.S. visa are lost.
Salvation lies in the tiny, oil-rich nation of Absurdistan, where a crooked consular officer will sell Misha a Belgian passport. But after a civil war breaks out between two competing ethnic groups and a local warlord installs hapless Misha as minister of multicultural affairs, our hero soon finds himself covered in oil, fighting for his life, falling in love, and trying to figure out if a normal life is still possible in the twenty-first century.

More books I have read: Topics About Which I Know Nothing (not my personal memoir) and Making the Cat Laugh. Both excellent, funny reads. I recommend them, but I literally cannot remember anything about them … other than that they’re funny. Oh, and they’re both collections of short stories/articles, so you know that I’m not lying when I say they’re good because I have actually read them (and I don’t really do short stories).

Speaking of funny darkly satirical, next in line is American Psycho. I like it as a commentary on the vacuous 80s yuppie culture (currently reincarnated as this generation’s hipsters), but I think it goes off the rails towards the end. I haven’t seen the movie version, because I have a forever crush on Christian Bale, which is predicated on him being forever Laurie, and well … I like to keep it that way. Psycho Christian Bale does not exist in my universe.

Europe Central is a novel about the totalitarian regimes in Germany and the USSR in the 20th century; until recently, I was convinced it was non-fiction and had shelved it accordingly. When I went to read it, I realized it wasn’t, re-shelved it, and promptly forgot about it. I also forgot about What Was She Thinking (Notes on a Scandal), but I know I read it at some point. It’s about the unraveling of a woman’s life after she has an affair with one of her students. It was a so-so book for me; the movie version stars Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett, so you can always go that route instead, and save a bit of time.

Sometimes, I get a little ambitious with my book selections, and I end up with a book intended for someone far more cerebral than me. The Savage Detectives is one example of that. Ten years ago, when I had a lot more time on my hands, and fancied myself a deep thinker, this book would have been right up my alley. Sadly, that time is gone and the book remains unread. Here’s to hoping that I have a renaissance of sorts in my golden years.

I bought The Black Book because the description on the cover made it sound to be somewhat in the vein of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind. It might be, and it might not. I have no idea, because I still haven’t read it. Amazon describes it as a “brilliantly unconventional mystery” and a “cherished cult novel” (for Turkish literary readers), so by rights it should be on my reading list; but, like I said, my current reading habits are far more low-brow than they used to be, and a potentially good book deserves more than my woeful, gnat-like attention span. (I blame my intellectual decline on the kids, in case you were wondering. Because I can.)

I Capture the Castle is what I would call “classic chick lit (that I would actually read)” – and, keep in mind, I abhor chick lit. It is a classic, and a beautifully-written one at that. Bonus fun fact #1: the same author also wrote 101 Dalmatians. Bonus fun fact #2: the movie version of ICtC is pretty good and, importantly, stars a young Henry Cavill (post-The Count of Monte Cristo but pre-The Tudors). I am 95% certain that there is a shirtless scene. I will say no more. You need to watch it.

Speaking of chick lit that’s not awful, I really enjoyed Le Divorce (the book and the movie). For some reason, I own L’Affaire instead. Which is “meh”. A half-hearted “meh” at that. Same deal with Nightingale Wood; Stella Gibbons wrote Cold Comfort Farm, which is a wonderfully witty book, and was made into an equally wonderful movie (I will never not swoon for Cousin Seth, aka Rufus Sewell), and was the book I should have bought. I thought Nightingale Wood would be in the same vein, and it kind of is, but it’s not as good. Sigh.

And that, my friends, is it for this shelf.

Le fin.

(But only until next time.)

2 Comments on The Reading Shelf

  1. WHY OH WHY are these books not in the Toronto Public Library ebook system!!?!?!?!?! *sigh*

    Also, Le Divorce was a great movie. I drooled when she was eating that birdcage veil dessert thingy made out of sugar…