Friday, May 02, 2008

Why I Read

I was complaining in an earlier post that I have been on a run of mediocre books.  Some have been okay but nothing has really knocked my socks off.  Sometimes when I get into a reading rut, I just give it a break and go to magazines and the like.

However, once in a while, you get a book that reminds you why novels are so fantastic. The classics, Marquez, have all been those testaments for me as to the sheer joy of reading. I have come across another one; I recently read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Where do I start? It is incredibly rich, layered, wonderfully constructed. I was involved and getting pleasure from this book from the very first chapter. What is wonderfully appropriate is that the whole story revolves around a boy’s passion for a novel by a little known writer. In the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a father and son bonded by books and literature, embark on the father's version of a rite of passage. His father tells his son to go and explore this mysterious and exciting place where one does not choose a book but rather, the book chooses the person, becoming a part of him. From here, The Shadow of the Wind unfolds and twists and turns through parallel story lines that are easily intertwined and completely captivating. It also doesn’t hurt that the story takes place in Barcelona, one of my favourite cities in the world.

There is a lot going on this book: romance, mystery, intrigue, comedy, tragedy. It is complex and unpredictable but surprisingly easy to follow and engaging. This is actually a translation and judging how beautifully written it is in English, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to read it in its original Spanish. I’m not going to attempt to describe the plot in more detail because I could never do it justice. I think I will echo the endorsement that Stephen King gave The Shadow of the Wind: “One gorgeous read”.

The Shadow of the Wind
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Knopf Publishing Group/Penguin