There is one thing that I do consistently, no matter whether times are good or bad, whether I’m feeling happy or sad. I read. I love stories — the beginnings, middles and ends. I like turning the page to find justice when my own life is feeling a little tattered and sore. And I especially take delight in devouring the banquet of carefully chosen words that authors prepare to bring their stories to life. I love witnessing the craft of a Descriptive Master.
Speaking of beautiful descriptive writing, go out right now and READ THIS BOOK:
The Book Thief was recommended to me by Ashley, who wrote, “I just LOVE how the book is narrated through Death’s point of view. Being able to view something as horrible as Nazi Germany through the eyes of something like Death is such a new concept…”
New, and well-done. Zusak himself said that it was difficult to select Death as the narrator, and the first time he tried to write from that point of view Death was “too mean.” Six months later Zusak was able to breathe life back into this story “— but this time, Death was to be exhausted from his eternal existence and his job. He was to be afraid of humans — because, after all, he was there to see the obliteration we’ve perpetrated on each other throughout the ages — and he would now be telling this story to prove to himself that humans are actually worth it.”
You will have to adapt to the voice, which uses a lot of short sentences and interjections, but this is easily done as you submerge yourself in the narrative. Liesel Meminger is a young girl in 1930s Germany, sent to live with foster parents. Liesel undergoes many trials and tribulations, but she endures thanks to her discovery of books and of words. At the age of 9, she steals her first book. It is the same day her little brother is buried. From that moment Death turns a rarely inquisitive eye toward the little girl — curiosity and interest win and throughout the rest of the years of her life, Death always takes notice when he’s brought in close proximity to the book thief. Liesel’s story becomes one of those that Death keeps close, proof that human existence is meaningful. And in The Book Thief, Death relates Liesel’s story to you, the reader, for consideration.
I considered it BRILLIANT. I loved reading this book — cover to cover it was excellent, and I had a hard time putting it down whenever it was close enough to pick up. One more chapter, just a couple more pages… I finished the book in about three days (550 pages). For the first time in a long time, I think I’ve found a non-fantasy fiction novel that I will re-read in the future.
Thank you, Ashley, for one superb recommendation! Got any others?!
The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places, it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked across the redness. (p.12)
Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile. (p.31)
She ran the back of her hand along the first shelf, listening to the shuffle of her fingernails gliding across the spinal cord of each book. It sounded like an instrument, or the notes of running feet. She used both hands. She raced them. One shelf against the other. And she laughed. (p.135)
At times, she would watch him. She decided that he could best be summed up as a picture of pale concentration. Beige-colored skin. A swamp in each eye. And he breathed like a fugitive. Desperate yet soundless. It was only his chest that gave him away for something alive. (p.248)
When finally she reached out and took possession of the letter, she noticed the sound of the clock in the library. Grimly, she realized that clocks don’t make a sound that even remotely resembles ticking, tocking. It was more the sound of a hammer, upside down, hacking methodically at the earth. It was the sound of a grave. (p.259)
As an aside, I’ve recently started a new page here at OneWandering called Paper Vacations. It is here that I intend to list all of the books I read, starting in 2010. I’m debating whether or not to try to “rate” the books here (on a scale of 1-5), or whether to just address any questions/comments left on this page as they trickle in. Thoughts?! Recommendations?!