I have a confession. Sometimes I am a binge reader. This used to mean that I would devour book after book with barely time to digest one before starting another. I didn’t think this was unusual until I married and discovered that two-novels-in-one-day is not quite normal. Now, book gluttony leaves me a little queasy and feeling kind of embarrassed that I consumed a year or two of someone’s labor of love in a couple of hours.
Instead, I go on book-theme binges. I take a big canvas bag with me when I go to the library and hunt up parallel books to take home. My nightstand is often covered with four or five good British mysteries, a handful of volumes of a new fantasy series, or a few spiritual memoirs. The lazy weekends where I could spend all day reading are gone, but I still sneak in an hour or two before bed. And then I read that theme until I’m fat with it and a little sick to my stomach. But I can honestly say I’ve never found myself reading more than one WWII story in a row…until this week. And I enjoyed them both immensely.
I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but if you’ve seen Janice Lee’s debut novel, The Piano Teacher, perched on the local bookstore’s shelf of newest arrivals, you would remember the striking jacket. And the story is not disappointing. I loved it. Loved the writing: beautiful and clean. Loved the completely foreign-to-me setting: the expatriate community of Hong Kong during WWII. Loved the aftertaste: haunting.
I also savored Hannah Coulter by: Wendell Berry. What a feast! Outstanding characterization. Direct and pointed prose. Insights sprinkled in good measure. How have I never read any of Berry’s writing before?
Both are definitely worth a read. Tuck in!