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Hope's Reads

Book love abounds.

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Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Neil Gaiman

A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King - Dave Eggers I highly suggest reading this simple and profound short novel. Alan Clay, the novel's protagonist, is Prufrock and Marlow and every Beckett character, exploring and wondering and what-if-ing but ultimately doing nothing of consequence. His struggles with reality, with tangibility, with truth, reek of our new modernism-- what are we in the aftermath of all we've experienced? All we've taken part in?Things change.We can know nothing-- Godot, the King, or God himself may never show up, no matter how badly we need them to.We must simply hope hard and hold on.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic & Madness and the Fair that Changed America (Illinois)

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America - Tony Goldwyn, Erik Larson I feel like I would rather have read two short novels, one about Holmes and one about The World's Fair, than to have read this one oddly-intertwined novel. Both stories were fascinating in their own right, but with there already being the murder subplot in the fair story, why drag Holmes into it? He wasn't connected to the fair, except in his attempts to capitalize on it, and it was distracting for me to jump from one story to the next, even with Larson's (honestly, rather weak) "little did he know" style segues.

Post-Birthday World

The Post-Birthday World - Lionel Shriver My friend introduced me to Lionel Shriver by saying, "You need to read The Post-birthday World. Wait, read We Need to Talk about Kevin first. I'm not sure you'd appreciate Birthday without Kevin." I did as she asked, and I honestly can't recommend any novel by Lionel Shriver highly enough. Her writing is precise- you know exactly what she means and exactly how she means it. No details are wasted, no moment is superfluous. However, the real draw to Shriver's work (and particularly this novel) for me is this: Lionel Shriver doesn't care about your moralizations, the rightness or wrongness of the way you live your life. It's not that right isn't right, and she's not tritely trying to preach that even wrong can look right if you squint and tilt your head. It's none of that. It's that, to Shriver, "rightness" is blasted irrelevant. The most frustrating part of reading this novel is that you want Irina to be rewarded (or punished) for having made the right (or wrong) decision. You need for there to be some justification, some explanation of the higher order of things, but Shriver is unwilling to grant anything so simple as that. In her fictional universe (and, really, in our own reality), your "good" deeds and your "right" choices mean next-to-nothing to anyone but yourself. At the end of the novel, no one has benefited from Irina's faithfulness or faithlessness enough for it to have been justified either way. Life simply is, and the rain will come no matter how you behave yourself. Things will always turn out for the worse that should have gone for the better, and then the other way around, too. Shriver doesn't let you get off by thinking you know what the right choices are, and it's the quality about her that I most respect.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern Most of the criticisms that I've read for this novel have lamented the lack of action and have accused Morgenstern of providing detail at the expense of the plot. I didn't have that problem, but I'm also typically down for a slower story. This novel is packed with lush, vibrant description and it felt as though I was as much visiting Le Cirque des Reves as I was reading about it. Overall, it felt like a worthwhile way to spend a few hours and it has become one of my favorite books. Don't expect nonstop action or a suspense-filled plot, but if you're looking to lose yourself in a fantastical night circus, then this is the book for you.