Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Sunday Salon: 42nd Street

Could there be a better start to a bibliophile's birthday than deciding which books to buy?  I think not. That's one of the ways I'm spending this morning (my 42nd birthday) - and the generous Kindle gift card that my mom gave me for my birthday today.

Is it just me, or do book choices seem to be more of a decision when you have a gift card?  I mean, I can be as impulsive as all get-out when buying books any other day, but put a gift card in my hands (oh, if you insist) and it becomes this weighty matter to consider for half the day.  I'm the same way with in-person gift cards, so it isn't just a Kindle thing here. 

A visit to the library yesterday had me glancing through Philadelphia Noir, a collection of stories set in the various neighborhoods that comprise my beloved and fine City of Brotherly Love and which is edited by Carlin Romano of The Philadelphia Inquirer. I hadn't heard of this collection before yesterday, but you know my passion for short stories ... and when you combine that with my city, then my resistence is shot to hell. Which is how I found myself downloading it to my Kindle right there in the library. An early birthday present. 

As for the other birthday books I'm considering?  Well, one is my current read, The Monsters of Templeton, a novel by Lauren Groff.  It was due back to the library last Tuesday, and I'm only on page 62 (of 364).  It has taken me a week to read a mere 62 pages, which is not due to any flaws in the book.  Quite the contrary: it's my lack of reading time that is the culprit. And at this point, the overdues will exceed the cost of the Kindle edition, so there's a good chance it will be downloaded shortly.

There was a meme (Top Ten Tuesday?) this week that asked for ten authors that deserve more recognition. Had I participated, I would have included Lauren Groff on my list.  I really liked her short story collection, Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories (see my review here) and The Monsters of Templeton could definitely be a contender for one of my favorite books of this year.  For those who enjoy character-rich stories, this one is excellent.  Groff skillfully weaves back and forth between present day and the not-so-distant past, while interspersing figures of Templeton's (a stand-in for Cooperstown, NY) past.  It's a love story, a bit of a mystery and magical realism sort of story, and it's all tied together and ... oh, you should just read it already. 

And still another potential Kindle download that is calling my name is Just Kids by Patti Smith. (Although, I am having a tough time with the fact that the Kindle edition is $9.99 and the paperback is $7.11. That kind of drives me batshit.) I'd been resisting this one because, quite frankly, I have such little familiarity with Smith and I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy this.  Beth Kephart's review convinced me otherwise. I downloaded the sample and was hooked from the first sentence in the Prologue ("I was asleep when he died.") and the last three ("At that moment, Tosca began the great aria "Vissi d'arte." I have lived for love, I have lived for Art. I closed my eyes and folded my hands. Providence determined how I would say goodbye.")

Providence, I think, sometimes has a role in the books (and the souls) that fall into our lives when they do.  This is a memoir that I think I need to read at this point for various reasons. 

Hope you also find a reason to indulge in a good book today.  (As if there needs to be a reason to do so, right?)

P.S. Happy Birthday wishes also go out to Adam of Roof Beam Reader! Love that I share my birthday with another book blogger ... and one of my favorites, at that.   

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


K A B L O O E Y said...

Happy Birthday! (You kid, you. I'm older, so I can say that.) Hope you enjoyed the gift card thoroughly. I love getting book gift certificates, but I find myself MORE impulsive when I use them than when spending my "own money." I just finished the hardbound copy of The Help that's been rattling around in my trunk for 2 years or so. I just never wanted to read it, but when I found myself book and Kindle-less on a recent day, I cracked it open, then read straight through, pretty much. I had my problems with it, but it really was a lot more enjoyable than I'd expected.

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Happy Birthday, and good luck on selecting the appropriate gifts. I always have difficulty with gift cards, too, but it's also TOO MUCH FUN!



Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

Happy birthday! And I know what you mean -- it seems like gift card books should be more serious, or something, so when the giver asks what you get you have good examples for them. Good luck picking!

Elizabeth said...

Happy birthday! I suggest buying Just Kids because half the fun is looking at all the fabulous photos, and the Kindle won't do justice to that. I loved that book -- it had a naive simplicity and beauty to it that is difficult to describe.

Thanks for the other recommendations, too -- I'm not familiar with Groff and I do love short stories.

IMOK said...

Happy Birthday! Looks like your 42nd is one for the books!

Best wishes xoxo

JoAnn said...

Happy Birthday, Melissa! I've been eyeing The Monsters of Templeton for years. It came up as a possible book club selection and didn't make the cut, but I've been curious about it ever since. Hope you had a great day!