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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bookworm's Corner

I tried to think of something really clever to call my posts about books, but I decided simplicity was best. I was often accused of being a "bookworm" in my youth, since I spent very much of my time reading even when I was young and that has not changed. I am a voracious reader and will devour any book in short order. I say "accused", because I often had the impression that those who labeled me as such, did so as if it were something bad. I shake my head in consternation now. Foolish, foolish people to think that a child who reads, and reads willingly and loves it, should be scolded!

I mostly get my reading fix nowadays from visiting the local library. It's only a block from my house and the books are free. If there's a book I want to read and it's been checked out, I simply put it on hold via the library's computer and they email me when it comes back in. I can wait for the book. Patience is a virtue.

Recently, I checked out these 3 books. My love for classic literature had left me astonished that I had never read Henry James' Turn of the Screw, which has long been regarded one of his best works, and a thrilling ghost story to boot. I had heard of it often referred to in other works, but had not read it. I am about halfway through it; it is not a long story. So far, it has struck me as eerie and the famous ambiguity of the story has already taken hold of me. The other book, Washington Square, I had read before, but it was quite a while ago. A delightful book, thought-provoking and a bit tragic, the characters and the wit therein I had always occasion to enjoy. Henry James has been a favorite author of mine since I was in my twenties and I have read some of his other books, including Portrait of a Lady and The Wings of the Dove. I find Henry James' old fashioned, elegant prose delightful and exactly to my taste.

The third book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen, I had read about in Newsweek some time ago. This book was rather difficult to get at the library. I had to put it on hold after two months of never finding a single copy checked in. I had heard things over the years since that tragedy, that almost everything the media had reported at the time it happened was false, crude assumptions and speculation. I remember all the contradictory stories that came out later, even years later. I had always been curious about the true story and the facts about the case that had been so muddled by media and gossip. Newsweek had promised that this book was told in a clear-eyed, unflinching and completely accurate fashion and represented years of exhaustive research. I enjoyed the book very much and came away with, for the first time, an understanding of what had happened there and the twisted, angry and erratic pair that were the cause of it. I highly recoomend this book. I could hardly put it down!

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