Some Good Reads

July 24, 2003
San Diego and Points unknown
Aztec (Mass Market Paperback)

While underway on an US Submarine I picked this book up from the ship’s library and literally could not put it down until I was finished!! When I was called to my watch station I would get excited the closer being relieved so I could pick up where I had left off. After finishing the book, I passed it on to a co-worker(shipmate) who in-turn had the same experience I had. This followed suit ten time with ten different people. By the end of our «SPEC-OP» there was almost a cult following on the boat made up fans of this book. Upon my return to port, I gave the well worn paperback to my wife who fell in love with the book so much she even changed her screen name to reflect her enjoyment of this great read! [edited for spelling]

For the past week or so, I’ve been working my way through reviews of the books that interest me. The above quote is one of my favorites, and it made me wonder: when did I forget how to write about books?

People love books. People love books with a passion that I had almost forgotten about, until the Amazon reviews reminded me. «The best book I’ve ever read,» one review of Aztec, by Gary Jennings, begins. Another writes, «You know that feeling you get when you are nearing the end of a great book, and you start savoring every word, reading more slowly because you don’t want it to end? That’s what this book is. I loved it. And I will still love it when I read it the for the fiftieth time.» Yet another:

Had to stop after the first 600 pages…

… why? Because I really, really don’t want this book to end.

I know you’re not supposed to read the comments at the end of blog posts, or the reviews on websites like Amazon. But I am completely absorbed by the energy that these reviews express, the emotions, the drama.

I love, too, how these books become part of a personal narrative. I love how Thomas, in the quote above, read this book while on a submarine. On a submarine! How brilliant is that? I can’t get over the image of an entire crew reading a book together, totally absorbed in the narrative as they sail through the depths of the sea. I can’t get over the last line: my wife changed her screenname because of this book.

Or let’s talk about negative reviews for a minute. Try this one:

November 16, 2013
Klare MacTavish
One Hundred Years of Solitude (Paperback)

This book is filled with nasty stories of this town. And I’m reading it for school. I do not recommend this book because it’s basically about all the rumors and gross junk that floats around the town. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!

Could you describe with more passion and brevity the canonical Gabriel García Márquez novel? Would you dare?

I have an implicit sense of how we evaluate books here in the academy: is it canonical? Does it transcend genre conventions? Is the language remarkable, interesting, experimental? Is the narrative analytically interesting? Does it comment on individual, social, or political issues? Is it responsive to close reading?

But who can object to Chris’ review of «Not so ‘great» Expectations? «I know Dickens is considered one of the classic authors,» he writes, «but this is just way to passe.»

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


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