Just for the smell of it…

An Olfactory-Invoked Recall:  According to scientists, a faint fragrance can bring back the memory of a long-forgotten time.

Maybe not so forgotten. I love the smell of books. Always have, always will. Lawrence Block gifted me with both a memory and a keepsake, a signed lettered edition complete with a postage stamp. I haven’t felt so content since those long ago days spent browsing through the stacks in the (haunted) Council Bluffs, Iowa Carnegie Library.

The Burglar Who Counted Spoons.

The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons.

I was one of the lucky ones– I got to proofread the book before its release.  Yeah, baby. Totally cool!  The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons is classic Lawrence Block. The book heralds the return of Bernie Rhodenbarr, a gentleman’s gentleman, Renaissance man, jack of all trades, burglar par excellence. The murder mystery unfolds like a crossword puzzle– every single letter must be positioned exactly right. And of course Mr. Block is a genius at puzzles. He’s so spot on and I’m so jealous. The Burglar Who Counted Spoons is worth reading for a taste of Juneau Lock alone.

I was a reading fool on this recent Christmas vacation. Here’s my list and all are recommends. Total recommends, well, except maybe the one book I haven’t yet begun.

Speaking of Lawrence Block… The second book I read, yes, promoting the second book first, was outstanding. Best book I’ve read since A Week As Andrea Benstock, by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Saunders. The author of this particular book, a man writing as a woman, has, in a sort of tongue-in-cheek way, categorized the book as chicklit. Well I say, ha! Ha! Ha! It’s lit fic through and through. And damn fine lit fic. Contemporary literary fiction tends to turn me off – too whiny, too nihilistic, too self-aware, and too narcissistic (which I suppose is the same as too self-aware but taken to an extreme). The Tennis Player from Bermuda, by Fiona Hodgkin, is none of those things.

the tennis playerThis book epitomizes everything the word novel connotes. Don’t ask, just read. I detest tennis yet I read the book from cover to cover in a single day. Here’s the link. It’s only $4.99 on Kindle.

Point of Impact

The first book was one I could not put down. It is such a deliciously twisted thriller I read and read and read and then I wanted to read it all over again. Point of Impact, A Bob Lee Swagger Novel, by Stephen Hunter. The thing is, there’s something about the movie The Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg, that fascinates me. I’m not sure what it is… Perhaps it’s the way the protagonist is manipulated. Perhaps it’s the way he exacts his measure of revenge, or rough justice, if you will. Perhaps it’s Leon Helm’s fantastic cameo. I have no idea. The Shooter is based on Point of Impact. Despite some differences, the movie manages to channel the heart and soul of the book. Both are winners in my world. I’ve already ordered the next two Bob Lee Swagger books. I’m reading these in paperback for a penny. Gotta love that penny. Link. (Not the edition I purchased but whatever…)

In the queue:

In the land of invisible womenIn the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey In the Saudi Kingdom, by Qanta Ahmed. Looking forward to reading about an experience from a perspective far removed from my own. Link.

Last but not least, written by a man I’ve come to admire, I’m currently reading–

Things that MatterThings That Matter, Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics, by Charles Krauthammer.

The book is not a political diatribe. It’s the heroic and beautiful story of his life, loves and pursuits told via articles, essays, opinion pieces. Loving it.

What freaks me out is this– and I’m only aware of this because my husband is also reading the book. He was so fascinated by some of the stories he did a little research.

Dr. Krauthammer, an intensely private man, is a quadriplegic. (He is remarkably nonplussed. I would be very plussed.)

What freaks me out even more is that back in the day Dr. Krauthammer bore an eerie resemblance to my husband, and without a doubt I would have fallen for him in a heartbeat. He was my kind of guy – Jewish, built, athletic, adventurous, intelligent, intuitive, optimistic. Possessed of a Jew-fro. I had a visceral reaction. The snapshot was a punch in the gut. This is what  my husband sent: Interview with Charles Krauthammer. Link to the book. Courage is the word that comes to mind.

So 2014, eh? Well, here’s hoping it’s about a million times better than 2013. Tomorrow my recipe for hibiscus syrup to pour into your glass of bubbly!










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6 Responses to Just for the smell of it…

  1. Jaye says:

    Intriguing list, Julia. I’m just now hitting the books I bought in December and November and (er) October, too. And now I see more I’d like to read. You are such a TBR enabler. :)

  2. anny cook says:

    It’s an excellent way to ring in the New Year!

  3. Jaye- you gotta read the tennis book. Not. Kidding. It is amazing.

  4. I agree, Anny! Hope 2014 is a better year for you and yours.

  5. Roberta says:

    If any one is listening would love to have this book for my birthday.

    I am always amazed at the depth and breath of his knowledge and understanding. Love to watch him on TV.

    Inspiration for not letting his accident make him angry.

  6. He’s amazing, Roberta. Such an inspiration.