None of these are bad reviews, even though I love to do those. These are all books I like very much and thoroughly recommend. If you decide to order one from Amazon, I would deeply appreciate it if you would link through my site.
If you live in Merida and package deliveries are iffy, Louis Navaer from Casa Catherwood will transport them down here for you. Here is the link for that service.
Another option for reading books is to buy yourself a Kindle or other reading machine. For expats, a Kindle is a good alternative to ordering physical books. Once you have it, you don’t have to depend on the mail any more for book delivery. Books fly onto your your Kindle via “Whispernet,” Amazon’s proprietary and blazing fast electronic transfer route. You can also access Barnes and Noble with their machine, the Nook, and the new Mac IPad is working out book downloading arrangements with major publishers.
The Kindle is a wonderful little reading machine, actually easier to handle than a physical book, and books cost less when order the Kindle edition. The download process takes less than a minute and your basic Kindle machine can hold about 1,000 novels.
I love mine. I put it in my purse and take it anywhere, in case I have to wait somewhere.
Kindles are on sale!!! Check them out and buy one here:
Most of the Kindle edition books come with voice. You can listen instead of read.
They type is adjustable – bigger or smaller.
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen
An unsympathetic look at ageing and at how the elderly are treated by cooing institutional workers. Our protagonist, in his 90s, has lived much of his life in the circus, which of course no one knows or cares about at this stage of his decrepitude. Amazing memories tumble from his mind onto the pages of this book, and his acquaintances and service providers at the nursing home look right through him, as if he is nothing.
An unexpurgated inside experience in the daily life of a travelling circus with all of its cruelties and joys. Surprise! There is a triumpant ending. This is one of those books where you just KNOW that the author is herself from this environment; her knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes at a circus is so extensive. But no, she is someone who studied the environment for years and gained a deep understanding of this turbulent, cruel, intense world. We feel for the people, we feel for the animals.
The bonds between people and animals are as profound as the sociopathic disregard, depending on the character.I can’t get this book out of my head. Since I’ve read it, I have a heightened regard for the dignity and intelligence of elephants. It’s unfair that they are so massive and difficult to maintain in nasty little shows, that they are tortured and starved.
We also see human beings at their most depraved, which I always appreciate. Circus hoboes shoving each other out of traveling box cars if someone becomes inconvenient, or happens to die en route.
But the wonderful old man at the center of the story is the glue. He is clever and resourceful and saves his own psychic life.
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davison
Something truly different. The protagonist is a sardonic, drug addicted, not very nice character who worked as a porn actor before becoming severely burned in an auto accident. Accustomed to being admired and sought after, he now goes through the rest of his life as a “monster.”
In the hospital he meets a crazy lady named Marianne Engel, housed in the psychiatric unit, who spins wild tales of having known him in previous lives in other times and places. He gets absorbed in her fantasies and is eventually released from the hospital to live with her in her huge old stone house. She is a sculptor and this most odd story impies that she will be at the end of her life after completing a certain number of statues. She’s working very hard at it, and the un-named protagonist plans to commit suicide when Marianne’s life is over.
Parts of this are difficult to read, as the burn victim struggles through the stages of facing the world and being met with disgust and rejection. He continues his drug abuse throughout his life, as he is truly in constant pain. He and Marianne lead a bizarre life together.
This isn’t as depressing as you might think. it’s a stark illustration of how two deeply flawed human beings, when united, become something far more than the sum of their parts. Even if their life together is temporal, it is intense and connected. An existential, transient love.
Perhaps it will make you look at your relationship(s) and at the mentally ill in a new way. It certainly got me thinking.
Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A haunting book about a book. Set in Barcelona in the 1950’s, the central character is Daniel, a boy whose father owns an antiquarian book store. He spends years looking for a book called Shadow of the Wind by a mysterious one-book author named Julian Carax. He finds that every copy of the book has been systematically destroyed. Daniel sets out to solve the convoluted mystery. The most delightful character, Fermin, is the assistant in the book store and some of his lines and thoughts are laugh-out-loud funny. The story, however, is spooky and anything but funny.
This may be my favorite book of all time, or perhaps it’s tied with Perfume, by Patrick Suskind