Two great reads to move from one year to the next

December 28- January 4

A Gentleman in Moscow. This book captured me completely, much to my surprise. I picked it up because I had seen it on lots of lists, and thought I would see what the fuss what about. The concept was moderately interesting: a man in the prime of his life is confined to a hotel to live by the political issues of the time. It combined elements of Eloise, I thought, with whimsy and appreciation for the fine hotel life, a narrative of historical developments in Moscow, along with a deep examination of huge life questions, including the meaning of the passing of time and the meaning of life, friends, and family. I promptly bought it as a gift for someone else, and I’m recommending to everyone I know who appreciates a good, literary read that is a little out of the ordinary.

I knew I had bought The Name of the Wind some time last year, and I was starting to see it in reviews. Due to my entirely illogical book filing system, in which I move them around the house depending on where I might be reading next, my mood, and where I need a stack of books (or where I have stuffed them randomly into shelves because people are coming for Christmas celebrations and book stacks are viewed as a ‘mess’ by some), I couldn’t find it for a week. A perfect size for hot tub reading (pretty much a daily thing for me, unless it’s raining), it was the first thing I grabbed up after putting down A Gentleman in Moscow, on my way outside. It proved to be a strange transition from one book to the other. The opening sentence reminded me of a Lord of the Rings scene, and I was anticipating total immersion, but it took me a few chapters to be sure this would be my next read. 80 pages in I was hooked, and enjoyed a quiet New Year’s Day reading by the fire. I interrupted that only for a brief visit to Barnes and Noble to get a gift for a friend (my second trip in two days). Although I normally enjoy that kind of outing immensely, I felt the books had been picked over, and I couldn’t find anything I really wanted to share (!). I had forgotten Jenny Lawson, who I remembered on my way home.

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