Wednesday, July 20, 2005

book smart

I just got myself a new book. I bought it, which is bad. As a future librarian, I should support my local public library. As a current graduate student, I should try to retain the little cash that I actually earn in my student job for that glorious day when all this school shit is over. However, the book is one that everyone is buzzing about, so its waitlisted at the library-- a 32 day wait, goddamnit, and the hardcover copy was 40% off at the store, bringing it down to the price for a trade paperback.*

But most importantly, this book looks REALLY GOOD and therefore I want to read it NOW. Didn't Jesus sacrifice himself for my benefit? And shouldn't I make the most of this precious life? By reading? Really, in the end, its the christian thing to do.

Its been awhile since I have read a really good book. I'm a ferocious reader, I simply devour books. I've always been like this, since my parents bought me the Chronicles of Narnia gift set for Xmas when I was eight. Let's just say when I go to the library now, I always check out at least 5 books for the 2 week period. I'm at the point where I search out really long books, 500, 800, 1000 pages, because I can kill 150 pages in less than two hours and I need more.

So here I am, with Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian in my greedy little hands. Oh, its 642 pages! Oh, it took ten years to write and is exquistely researched! Oh, Oh, Oh, the characters are professors! -- Oh, a mystery that spans hundreds of years! The Ottoman Empire! The Holy Roman Church! --oh and archives! and librarians! --oh, suspense and thrills! --oh, librarians!

When I picked it up at the store, I actually hugged it to my chest as I walked over to the counter to buy it. I think I was more excited about this book than even the new Harry Potter.**

However, this book is also about something else. In fact, its about Dracula. And now all of you are like, "Oh a vampire novel. Right." But I'm telling you, don't hate playas, cuz this book is the shit. Imagine, if you will, one night, stumbling across a letter in your father's library (cuz I know my dad has a library, doesn't yours?) that is made out "To My Dear and Unfortunate Successor". When you ask your dad about this letter, he begins, haltingly, to tell you a story about a book. A book, old and completely blank, except for a drawing of a large dragon holding a banner, in the very middle. The banner reads, "Dracula". And how, when he casually mentions this to his thesis advisor, you find out that some years ago, this same professor, too, was given a copy of this book. And then the professor hands your father the self-same letters, spinning a terrible story about a journey across Europe, to Istanbul and back. About Vlad the Impaler, a real man, who killed thousands of his own people, staking babies to their mothers breasts, burying men in the sand to their necks, and more. About Bram Stoker and his inaccuracies. About Mehmet, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and his drive to kill the Order of the Dragon. About Dracula. And how that very same night, the professor disappeared, leaving only a splash of blood on his desk and across the ceiling. So your father decides to find him, to save him, only half believing any of this could actually be true, and re-traces the journey to Istanbul. And then, halfway through your father's story, your own father disappears. And now its up to you.


This book is so good, I lugged all 642 pages with me on the metro, more than once. I forced myself to slow down, and if I caught myself speed-reading, actually made myself go back and read the parts again. I have picked up other books and read them in the meantime, not because this book is bad, but because it is so good I just did not want to finish it.

So, go read it. Anyone who spent ten years writing a novel deserves to make a shitload of money. Plus, the better reception this book gets, the more likely she will write another novel for me to enjoy. So stop being such selfish bastards and get me a good book already.

*You all know hardcover, right? Trade paperback is the soft cover kind that is almost the same size as the hardcover book. The smallest, and cheapest, is the mass market paperback. Use these terms at your next cocktail party.

**Having to wait two years has been difficult. And now, I've read about half of it, and all I can say is.. eh. Don't get me wrong, its good, but I really only started to engage with the plot after the first 200 pages. I know that someone dies at the end and I'm starting to get a little nervous. Is it Ron? C'mon, Ron? Really? No, don't tell me. Is it Hermoine? Ginny? Please not the Weasley twins. ACK! DON'T TELL ME! But really, who?