During our wannabee vacation last week I finally read 2 books that I enjoyed. I say finally because I have been reading a lot of junk that hasn't been great. Stories that were contrived with shallow characters. Or books that were so cerebral I couldn't grab hold quick enough when all I wanted to do was lose myself in a book. Yes, I have been hankering for a good read. Lucky me I found 2 of them:
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
This is a tale of the circus, told through the voice of a 90+ year old man, a nursing home resident, who ran away to the circus when he was in his 20's. It is set in the depression era, the time of the traveling circus train. I lost myself in this book, the descriptions of circus performers, from the midget to the fat lady to the animals, I was drawn in to the John Irving-like book. The story is happy and sadly poignant at the same time. Sure, it's a little cliched and sure the ending is over the top (maybe that's the big top) but you are so in love with the characters it doesn't matter. A very quick read.
The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of self-absorbed 30 somethings. The book centers around 3 friends who attended Brown together and are now making a life in NY. They consider themselves to be culturally elite and entitled, above it all in their own minds. You perhaps know people like them. You love them, you hate them and (if you're getting older like me) you maybe even remember being a little like them at times(oh, you mean it's not all about me?). This is crisp sophisticated writing, often funny in a tongue in cheek kind of way, and always thought provoking.