Booking Through Thursday: 30 August 07

There was a widely bruited-about statistic reported last week, stating that 1 in 4 Americans did not read a single book last year. Clearly, we don’t fall into that category, but . . . how many of our friends do? Do you have friends/family who read as much as you do? Or are you the only person you know who has a serious reading habit?

I am fortunate in that I come from a family of readers, and married into a family of readers as well. Some of us have overlapping tastes, some of us don’t, but no matter where we are, there’s something interesting to read, and probably a cozy corner in which to do so.

I’m also pretty selective about my friends – most of them are readers as well. It’s hard for me to comprehend a life without reading for pleasure.

It’s A Wednesday Thing: Of Song and Water

Sometimes, even if a book is good, you have to put it aside for a while, because it just doesn’t fit the right mood. I’m in the middle of reading Of Song and Water, and it’s a beautiful book, with vivid descriptions and haunting characters. Sort of a blues riff in textual form, all about jazz and shipping, prohibition and personality conflicts. It’s lovely to look at, I like the texture of the paper, and the words are well chosen.

But it’s also sad, and as much as I appreciate the quality of the book and am interested to know what happens to the characters, I need to put it aside for a while.

Of Song and Water was written by Joseph Coulson

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

by Christopher Moore

I borrowed this book, Island of the Sequined Love Nun, from one of my ComedySportz troupemates, without quite knowing what I was getting into. What I found was an hilarious trip that had plane crashes, hard luck stories, and off-kilter romance. If Clive Cussler wrote chick lit, this would be it.

The main character, Tuck, is a pilot for a company that is clearly supposed to be Mary Kay cosmetics, right down to pervasive use of the color pink. He crashes the plane, gets sent to a tropical island that is loosely affiliated with the Federated States of Micronesia, meets a male drag queen prostitute and a talking bat, and ends up involved with a doctor and his wife, who has taken on the role of the Sky Priestess for a tribe of natives who have become a cargo cult.

At times poignant, sad, funny, exciting, action-packed, horrifying, and romantic, sometimes all at once this book is a must read for anyone who has ever thought that chick-lit needs more gunfights.

Persian Pictorials – Rostam: Tales of the Shahnameh

There are comic books that exist merely to entertain, and there are graphic novels which are a bit more artistic. Either way the medium is one that has gained newfound respect in recent years, with ever widening subject matter. Television shows are given virtual seasons beyond their last air date, popular heroes are given new adventures, and mythological figures come to life via paper and ink.

An interesting example of the latter is the Rostam Comic Book. Rostam: Tales of the Shahnameh is an interpretation of Persian (Iranian) legend in modern comic book format. (The Shahnameh, by the way, is the Epic of Kings, a collection of mythological stories from before Iran was under Islamic influence.)

The website: does not offer the actual graphic novels (you have to buy them) but it does have downloads of the featured characters, a history of the project, and news about upcoming works.

The site is worth checking out, and the comics themselves are a beautiful blending of history, folk lore, and modern media.

Five for Friday: Beach Reading

Welcome to a new weekly post here at Bibliotica: a list of five books on a theme, each Friday. This week, to usher in August, I’m sharing five of my favorite beach books.

While some people think of beach reading as anything light that one might read at the beach, for me, beach reading involves books that are set at or near the shore. Here are five of my favorites, alphabetically by author:

Beaches, by Iris R. Dart
We all know the movie, but the novel it was based on is richer, as novels tend to be.

The Mermaid Chair, by Sue Monk Kidd
Vivid imagery, and an excellent depiction of a coastal town.

Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, by James Patterson
A quiet, sweet, sentimental little novel. The movie (direct to DVD, I think) couldn’t approach it in tone or poignancy.

Three Sisters Island Trilogy, by Nora Roberts
These three novels, Dance Upon the Air, Heaven and Earth and Face the Fire all take place on a cute and charming fictional island, with each novel focusing on one woman, though their stories are interwoven. It has everything I love in novels – a cafe/bookstore, the beach, and romance.

Up Island, by Anne Rivers Siddons
Actually, Ms. Siddons has written many beach books – Colony, Low Country, and Outer Banks are three others – she’s amazing at capturing the Carolinas, and the Gullah culture, as well as just general beachiness.

Your Turn: What does “beach reading” mean to you? What are some of your favorite beach books?