Over the weekend, I walked over to the public library — yes, I finally realized my dream of living within walking distance of a library! — with a friend who was visiting for the day and pursued the used book sale. We arrived right as the sale opened, and there was already large crowd assembled picking through the boxes of books on the tables and the bookshelves lining the walls.
Despite missing out on a copy of Little Bee by Chris Cleave, I was able to pick up seven books I’ve wanted to read for awhile now at a dollar a piece thus expanding my personal library from a pitiful collection of one nonfiction book and two guidebooks to my new city. (Due to relocation costs, I left my entire book collection — read and unread — back at my parents’ home.) And, better yet, my friend was able to purchase two beautiful art books for her grandfather, whose birthday party she was headed to later that day, at a total of $15.
- Let the Great World Spin (Colum McCann) — It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the Twin Towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. Sounds interesting, no? I think I tried to read this book once before because the title sounds so familiar, but the plethora of reviews I’ve seen over the years for McCann’s novel might be why it sounds so familiar to me.
- Shantram (Gregory David Roberts) — Narrated by Lin, an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear, Roberts’ novel introduces readers to Bombay’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries. I picked up a copy because I remembered Erin of Erin Reads’ review. Looking over her review now, however, I see that her praise was for the audiobook not the print edition. Whoops.
- Memoirs of a Gesha (Arthur Golden) — Written as a fictional memoir, Golden’s tells the story of one woman’s life as a geisha over a twenty year period in the 1930s. I saw the movie adaptation of this film over two years ago and really enjoyed it.
- Snow Falling on the Cedars (David Guterson) – In 1954 a fisherman is found dead and a local Japanese-American man is charged with his murder. In the course of his trial, it becomes clear that more is at stake than one man’s guilt. For San Piedro is haunted by memories: of a past love affair between a white boy and a Japanese girl; of land desired, paid for and lost; and of what happened during World War II when its Japanese residents were sent into exile while their neighbors watched. This the one book that I picked up merely on a whim.
- In the Shadow of Gotham (Stefanie Pintoff) — Young Sarah Wingate has been brutally murdered in her own bedroom in the middle of an otherwise calm and quiet winter afternoon. After just one day of investigation, Detective Simon Ziele is contacted by Columbia University’s noted criminologist Alistair Sinclair, who offers a startling claim about one of his patients, Michael Fromley—that the facts of the murder bear an uncanny resemblance to Fromley’s deranged mutterings. Another book I’ve seen several reviews for in the past.
- The Invisible Bridge (Julie Orringer) — Andras Lévi, a Hungarian Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. This book was published right about the time I visited Hungary, and I have wanted to read it ever since. The photograph on the cover is of the bombed out bridges connecting Buda with Pest to form the city of Budapest.
- The Tiger’s Wife (Téa Obreht) — In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Again, another book I’ve seen several reviews for since its publication.
Also pictured is the book I picked up at my new book club’s recent meeting. I traded in my copy of Out Stealing Horses by Per Patterson as I have tried to read the book multiple times with little success for a copy of The Marriage Plot by Jeffery Eugenides since I loved his other novel Middlesex. I know The Marriage Plot has not been as widely loved as Middlesex but given the other choices, it was the only one that caught my attention. I hope I’ll have better luck with it than others have before me.