If You Like Reading, You Need To Read This Book

“Excuse me if I enjoy myself rather obviously!” he said to Gregory, smiling. “I don’t often have the luck to have a dream like this. It is new to me for a nightmare to lead to a lobster. It is commonly the other way.”

A couple of weekends ago I had the absolute pleasure of reading a real button clicker (I was reading the book on my kindle). One of my closest friends who is an avid non fiction reader told me to check out a crime/suspense novel written by one of my favorite authors: G.K. Chesterton. (For a brief intro on Chesterton, the only thing that needs to be said is that C.S. Lewis considered him to be one of his greatest influences). Even though it was a book written over a hundred years ago, I ordered it (for free) on my kindle. I was taking a relaxing weekend away in Austin with my wife while sitting in a delightful, rustic coffee shop completely unaware of how much the book would blow me away.

‘The Man who was Thursday’ is a difficult book to write a review for, because it is packed with twists and turns from the get go, and to be perfectly honest I just don’t want to give anything away (this is assuming of course that those of you who have been reading my reviews are accepting every post as gold, and laboriously following through with my supreme recommendations). The book opens with a debate between two philosophers: Syme, and Gregory, who both have remarkable secrets that are revealed quickly. The rest of the novel is the unraveling of the secrets, and one man’s adventure to bring a secret society of anarchists to justice. It is a remarkable page turner that explores the motifs of loneliness, friendship, and individuality, but keep in mind that the novel is written by a DEEP Catholic thinker, and will inevitably turn towards a resolution that magnifies the Father that Chesterton devoutly worshiped. The tale of secret societies will have you shouting, nail biting, page turning, along with sleep-losing.

I am very hesitant to give books such a high praise, but this one was instantly a favorite. Chesterton’s enchanting writing will leave you spellbound, and with a goofy grin on your face, as he is no stranger to sarcasm, wit, and satire. The stunning conclusion will leave you in a state of raw contemplation, and perhaps even confusion (unless you are of the higher echelons of society with a powerful intellect… if you’re reading my reviews, don’t worry,  you most likely fall into such a category).  But great novels, in my opinion, always do this. If you’re looking for sheer entertainment, this book is for you. But if that is ALL you’re looking for, steer clear of this psychological thriller.

5 of 5… easily.

Get a Clue! The Westing Game

Ted Curry Westing GAmeThe sun sets in the west (just about everyone knows that), but Sunset towers faced east. Strange!

Did you ever see the movie ‘Clue’ with Tim Curry based off the old board game? If you haven’t, spoiler alert: it’s great- I mean what board game gone movie isn’t? And the film is strikingly similar to the book The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin despite its publication date in 1978. It’s a mystery book drenched in intriguing clues, sneaking suspicions, and mind blowing discoveries that manage to sneak in right under your nose.

Samuel W. Westing is a self-made millionaire who has mysteriously selected 16 of his cooky heirs to live in the Sunset Towers apartments on the shores of Lake Michigan. The heirs are brought together in Westing’s mansion to hear the will of Sam Westing who was recently found dead in his home – not to mention the fact that the heirs have no relation to each other, nor Westing for that matter. The evening becomes more enigmatic when Westing’s will takes the form of a puzzle. He divides the 16 into 8 different pairs, each with unique clues, and a challenge to find the person who took Sam Westing’s life. Each pair is given $10,000 dollars as incentive to play the puzzle called the ‘Westing Game.’ The winner who solves the mystery can rightfully claim to be the true heir of Samuel Westing and inherit his 200 million dollar fortune as well as his prestigious role in society.

The Westing Game was a Newberry award winner, and a fun read for young adults and adults alike, but I found myself struggling to understand the workings of the plot as I was reading though the book. Sixteen heirs and a few side characters in 185 page book make for a constantly moving plot with very little downtime. It was almost like back in grade school when you would try to fit 9 crayons in an 8 crayon box… it works, but it looks goofy. Each page is dense with events that lead to the ultimate conclusion of the book so PAY ATTENTION. You will often find yourself rifling through pages, backwards and forwards, thinking that you have pieced together some clues, or perhaps even come to the conclusion of who killed Westing.

What I loved most about the book, as said above, is the similar feel to the movie ‘Clue.’ It is certainly primarily a mystery, but the humor it uses to create awkward “who-done-it?” moments, enjoyable character development, and outrageous irony, made Raskin’s Westing Game a pleasurable read that satisfied the little kid in me who loved watching Scooby Doo and reading the Hardy Boys.

I’ll put this guy on shelf number 2 1/2 of 5. (It’s a really cool looking bookshelf)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

While I was reading Stieg Larsson’s ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,’ I found myself constantly in a position of setting the book down and saying to myself: “Eww.” This book is not for the faint of heart. There are repulsive graphic scenes the make you cover your eyes (but then you realize your reading a book and not watching a movie, and that the story doesn’t go on unless you keep looking). Larsson attempts to draw our attention towards the horrific occurrences of sexual abuse and violence towards women, and masterfully accomplishes his task by making you feel weak in the knees and warping your mind into thinking you need a bath regardless of your cleanliness.

That being said, Larsson weaves a story with painstaking detail to food, technology, cars and coffee, and cannot be read unless you have a family tree of the characters at your fingertips. But even though the protagonists are not the most likable people to support and cheer for, the addicting mystery will have you turning page after page, even if your stomach squirms with each graphic scene.

On a 5 level book shelf, 5 being the best/highest it goes on shelf number 2.