As a bona fide English nerd, I have read lots and lots in my life. But when I started teaching 14 years ago, my teaching load prevented me from doing much reading for pleasure. At all.
But during my sabbatical, I managed to fit in a few novels, and I remembered how much better I feel when I read. I’ve even managed to find time while I teach to read on the side, and I think it helps me keep the world in perspective: not all writing is college freshman level, thank goodness. A few books have especially stood out in the last few semesters, and as I need a post for the letter B, I’m going to share them with you.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. As usual, I’m late to the party, but mercy this is a helluva book. If history had been more like this in high school, I probably would’ve majored in it. Larson combines two story lines that are both compelling, but when woven beside each other, they’re unforgettable. It’s the kind of novel that you can’t exactly say you love, in the same way that you can’t really say you love Deliverance. But it’s a story you’ll never forget.
Under the Dome by Stephen King: $haun has been a Stephen King fan since long before we met, and though I support his passions, I’ve been terrified to share in this one. I’ve watched the movies, even gone to see them in the theater. But until now, I’d never read a Stephen King book. I was assured by several sources that it was not horror, and I would not have nightmares. The first part was true, but it was a startling book with a compelling premise, memorable characters, and enough tension to keep me turning the pages. Which is all well and good, but the book is over 1,000 pages long, and, you know, I’ve got a full-time job and a family and a pet, none of whom understand when I can’t stop reading right now. It’s going to be on TV, apparently, in June, and though I’ve not always been impressed with adaptations of King’s work, I’m really looking forward to this one.
The Murder of Helen Jewett, by Patricia Cline Cohen: one of the first books I read when I went back to work, this one is a bit like Devil in the White City, in that it presents horrifying historical events in the context of an amazing city (this time in 1830s New York). Cline Cohen takes a little remembered murder and brings it all back to life, and it’s simply gorgeous. I mean, you know, still gruesome, but also gorgeous.
What have you been reading, dear readers? Should I go back to school for my history major?