Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So Many Books, So Little Time ...

The reader's dilemma--how to squeeze in more time to read all those books stacked up on your nightstand! 2006 has been a good year for great new books, and 2007 promises to offer even more of our favorites. Every now and then, though, it's nice to revisit an old friend, a favorite from childhood, or perhaps take a stab at that old classic you never got around to reading. One of my "old friends" is John Irving, and every now and then it's nice to reacquaint myself with some of his many unique and fully drawn characters. Owen Meany is one of those fictional characters that seems to linger in my thoughts as if he were a real memory. A Prayer for Owen Meany is a gem of a book, and when you reach the last page you will feel as if you have said good-bye to a part of your family. Irving delves into serious social issues (the Vietnam War) and religious issues (Christian martyrdom), but he does so with great humor and sensitivity. Critical reviews have been mixed, but Owen Meany has stayed with me for years. I believe that's the sign of a great book.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Holiday Reading

The first of the holiday books are hitting the library shelves right about now. Anne Perry, Mary Higgins Clark, and many more of your favorite authors have special Christmas titles out. Elizabeth Berg has a short sweet Christmas offering entitled The Handmaid and the Carpenter. It's a fictionalized version (duh!) of Mary and Joseph's courtship, romance, and marriage. Berg portrays Mary as a sassy teenager who is devout, thoughtful, and nature-loving and loves to speak her own mind in a time when women were NOT encouraged to do so. Joseph is seen as a loving, hard-working, husband who is sometimes gruff and is a stubborn, rule-abiding man. Mary's pregnancy shakes him to the core but he remains supportive and takes good care of Mary and Jesus and the rest of their family. The book is a nice, easy read that you could tackle in an evening or a weekend. It allows you to see these familiar Biblical characters in a new light and more easily understand the hardships they faced. A great way to start the Christmas season!