As part of the reading we squeezed in “after the relatives left,” (or in one of our cases – as we were travelling to visit them), we were mesmerized by a few books that truly transported us to other times and places.
So at this time of year, in the bleak of winter, when you might be craving an out-of-body experience, picking up one of these titles will do the job. Right from page one.
Some highlights include:
Rules of Civility (2011) by Amos Towles. Each time I picked up this book it was as if a ’38 Bentley had siddled up to my door to take me for a literary ride. This fabulous novel transports. It’s set in Depression-era Manhattan and is gloriously atmospheric in the New York it portrays (think flapper dresses, smoky jazz clubs and Great Gatsby-esque Hampton estates with flowing champagne). It is also rich in strong characters and probing in the questions it asks its readers about choices, careers paths and the assumptions we make in life. Towles writing is polished, gorgeous even (hard to believe it’s a first novel), and takes us to 1938 to tell the story of that year in the life of Katey Kontent, a smart, ambitious, working class girl who finds herself rubbing shoulders with the 1%. Besides being a great read, it is a love letter to New York City. Book Group Worthy. ~Lisa Cadow
The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo (2007). Does watching the Blockbuster movie adaptation of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo have you looking for your next Scandinavian thriller? Look no further than this first book in Nesbo’s Norwegian series. What is better praise than the fact it might satisfy that craving for a good thriller? Well, for me the most satisfying aspect of this thriller is that it transports you to modern-day (OK 1999) Norway. As the plot switches times, you learn about Norwegian politics during Bill Clinton’s presidency, during WWII, and, ultimately, how Norway’s landscape and history shape the people living in Oslo, Bergen and other small Norwegian towns today. The book’s main hero, Harry Hole, is flawed and thus interesting. The people he encounters are truly characters in their own right. And, the plot keeps you reading page after page. No, this is not high literature – it is a thriller. But, an even better aspect of this book? If you like it, there are many more in this “Harry Hole” series. ~ Lisa Christie
11/22/1963: A Novel by Stephen King (2011) – I have not yet finished this tome, but the pacing is superb, the concept fantastic (in the truest sense of that word) and the plot truly does allow you to time travel back to the 1960s. If this book ends poorly, I will amend this recommendation in the next post. Enjoy. ~ Lisa Christie
The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffinegger (2004). This “oldie but goodie” is eight years old but is still fresh in the story it tells and in the writing style it offers readers. Right away you know you’re in for quite a trip and will have to get your bearings, just as do main characters Henry DeTamble, a time traveling librarian, and his artist wife Clare. This is a unique tale that explores fate and love within a non-linear time sequence. So if you’ve been putting off reading it, January 2012 might just be the perfect “time”. ~Lisa Cadow