Monday, February 05, 2007

Book Thoughts

I find it interesting how what's going on in my life affects my reading choices. For the last several months, my life has been in great transition, and so, when I actually even wanted to read, I found myself reaching for comforting books. Here are two I recently completed.

The Right Attitude to Rain

The Isabel Dalhousie novels by Alexander McCall Smith make me want to drink tea. And in my opinion, that makes them really good books.

I read the first novel (The Sunday Philosophy Club) a while ago (maybe a year?). Then when I wanted a cozy novel to take with me on the honeymoon, I thought of Alexander McCall Smith and picked up the second one, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate. And I now I've just finished reading The Right Attitude to Rain, the third novel in this "mystery" series. The term "mystery novel" applies only very loosely to these books. While they are shelved with other mystery novels in the library, they do not fit the classic "who-done-it" model. In fact, there was nary a dead, nor even a close-to-dead, body to be found in this third novel.

But what Alexander McCall Smith excels at is the portrayal of "small things" (a phrase that pops up in this novel and in his other works). And what I've come to love about this particular set of novels is the repetition -- the small number of key characters and their rhythmic habits. The mystery is never the point of these stories. Instead, I find myself picking up the next one for the characters.

Talking with My Mouth Full

I picked up this book about two months ago but only began it about two weeks ago. Talking with My Mouth Full: Crabcakes, Bundt Cakes, and Other Kitchen Stories is a collection of essays by Bonny Wolf, the food critic for NPR's Weekend Edition. I very much like this sort of book at times -- the essay style allows for an easy "pick up, put down" kind of reading, which was just what I needed. And her subject matter revolves arounds the comforts of food and food traditions -- my favorite essays were on the topics of aprons and bundt pans. Occasionally I felt that Wolf's tone was cloyingly idealistic or simplistic. And I found myself losing interest by the end (my favorites were in the first of the three divisions of essays). But on the whole, I found this collection to be quite enjoyable.


Blogger Megan said...

I loved ~Friends, Lovers, Chocolate~ and can't wait to get the third book!! (I may wait until it comes out in paperback, though.) I think I'll get the first one, too, just to have the complete set... :-)

11:45 AM  

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