Hey, is that a real book?

I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic for real books lately. You know, the nonelectric kind. Don’t get me wrong, I looove my Kindle that I got for xmas some years ago: it’s easier for my arthritic hands to hold, I can read easily while laying down sideways, I can get instant gratification without having to search for parking. But it’s soulless. I do miss the smell of a book, being able to hold something real.

So I traipsed down to the library and picked up The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Hard to believe it’s Stedman’s first novel because it read so easily and I immediately got sucked in. It’s the story of a young couple after WWI who move to a remote island off of the southwest coast of Australia to care for a lighthouse. One day a small dinghy washes up along the shore of their little island (they are its sole inhabitants) with a dead man and a little two-month-old baby. That’s all I’m going to tell you.

This is the kind of book you get sad finishing–partly because you didn’t want it to end, but also because the end left me weeping slightly (no, not the ugly cry Oprah once told us about) in a bittersweet kind of way. Go get it. Read it. You won’t be sorry.

I returned that book last night and picked up another: The Lower River by Paul Theroux.  I’m only about 50 pages into it but so far very captivating. It’s the story of a man in his sixties who is about to be divorced and longs for the time where he was truly happy–in his tiny village in Malawi that no one has ever heard of. He was a Peace Corps volunteer there at the time of independence, like Theroux, and goes back to see what has happened to his village.

I met Paul Theroux several years ago when I went to a book reading somewhere in the middle of nowhere in North Carolina (the book store’s directions for getting there ended with ‘Turn right when you see the cows that look like Oreo’s.’). He read from his then-new book, Dark Star Safari, which is his overland travel exploits from Cairo to Cape Town. I got him to sign my copy and we shared some memories about Kenya, where he has also lived. If you’ve ever had the desire to see part of Africa then this is a must read.

What are you reading?

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