Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Laura's Book Club #2

Book Club met again this past Sunday and I figured I would again share my two recommendations, as well as the books recommended by my friends. Hope you enjoy! (Remember, many of these are adult titles!):

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book, written with precise detail and told in alternating perspectives, is about a circus, open only from sunset to sunrise, that arrives without warning and leaves without warning. It's called Le Cirque des Rêves, and from the outside, it is an exciting, magical, fanciful place comprised of numerous, smaller, black-and-white striped tents, as opposed to one gigantic one.

Behind the scenes, however, the circus is a different story. There's a fierce competition involving Celia and Marco, two illusionists who have been trained to compete since childhood, and who’s coaches, Hector Bowen and Chandresh Christophe Lefevre, in fact, have been battling in this kind of fashion for years.

The rules, goal, and game play of their competition is hazy at first. The two illusionists have no idea how to win or even make moves, but eventually they figure out what to do, and learn that the entirety circus was designed specifically as a stage for their battle. Then there's the other problem: the deep, passionate love that Celia and Marco have found in each other.

Even while in love, the game must go on, and pretty soon, everybody who's even visited this circus's fate is on the line.

The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim

This graphic novel tells three stories that perfectly border the line between fantasy and reality.

In the first story, "Duncan's Kingdom", set in a lush medieval Europe, Duncan, a brave prince, is embarking on a quest to win the hand of a fair lady... except there are peculiar and wrong-seeming details that seem to pop up in his dreams and around him, such as a modern Snappy Cola bottle. In a smooth transition between fantasy and reality, suddenly Duncan's world is confusing and may or may not be what he thought it always was.

The second story, "Gran'pa Greenbax and the Eternal Smile", seems like a witty, anthropomorphic, statement about capitalism and religion. In Frogsville, USA Gran'pa Greenbax, a rich and greedy frog has a dream: to be able to dive into a pool of money and not hit his head. Unfortunately, this is not so easy. After a lot of trying, his lackey, Filbert, discovers a giant smile in the sky. This lets Gran'pa Greenbax start a new religion and make more money, getting him a step closer to his pool dream. But, as things are with evil people, the situation is just not straightforward.

In the last story, "Urgent Request", a very regular (if not somewhat frumpy) lady starts receiving the notorious Nigerian Prince emails. With a combination of kindness, hope, and naiveness (I know that's not a word but I don't know the correct noun form of "naive"), she answers the emails and even sends money to the prince. Is he real, maybe? Or not? This, again, considers what reality and fantasy really mean.

Each story in this book is quick, yet touching and beautiful. And, even though the stories are short, the characters are deep, complicated, and easy to connect with. The whole book can be read in an hour and will leave you thinking for days. I think this would be good first graphic novel for non-graphic novel readers who are secretly afraid of them.

Additionally, here is the list of the books recommended by my friends:

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Summer of the Bear by Bella Pollen
How Did You Get This Number by Sloane Crosley
Girlchild by Hassman Tupelo
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
What is the What? by Dave Eggers
Bodega Dreams by Ernesto Quiñonez
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

If you're interested in reading or recommending any books from/for my book club (and you're an adult!), leave me a comment. We can book-chat online!

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