Relishing that used-book smell

It rained on Tuesday, but I hopped off the bus two stops early because I’d decided that morning that I wanted to drop by the used book store on the way home.

From the small English nook in the basement Mollie’s Used Books shop, I picked up Alice in Wonderland and House of Sand and Fog. I reasoned it would be worth expanding my knowledge of Carroll’s work beyond what Disney did to it, and I’d remembered hearing about House of Sand and Fog. Oprah’s Book Club seal was on it, and when has Oprah ever led anyone astray.

The last book from her club that I read was acquired in a similar fashion: on a whim inside a thrift shop in Santa Barbara. A Million Little Pieces had been the center of some scandal that I hadn’t followed, but I figured it must been a good book to garner the attention.

It came to Taiwan and I finished it during the trip to Beijing. I found it engaging, but all the while was less moved because I knew parts had been exaggerated. Doing a bit of research last night, it seems like everything that would be verifiable by documents couldn’t be proven—the author had expunged old criminal records and wouldn’t release documents from the clinic he’d gone to. It would have been an awful journey if it was true. I guess that’s a hollow sort of happy ending.

I swapped with Megan and am now reading her copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It’s by Muriel Barbery, French, but of course translated. Pascal asked if they’ve been discussing the same idea over and over—I’m three-quarters of the way through it and they have been. The language and the ideas are beautiful though, and it’s quite an enjoyable read.

In the meantime, on MRT and bus rides, I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on my iPod. Unfortunately, Colin only has book one through six as audiobooks, so I’ll have to manage to find the seventh another way.


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