The Shadow of the Wind | Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Do not ask me how I came across this book; all I remember is reading the description and thinking how intriguing it sounded. Which, once you read the book (or this little write-up), the mysterious origins of its way into my life seems entirely fitting.

The 2001 novel by Spanish author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is exquisitely translated by Lucia Graves. The prose is fluid and elegant without being flashy, and I was sucked into the story right away.

The novel moves around in time and space but is mostly rooted in Barcelona over the first half of the Twentieth Century. A young boy, Daniel, is taken by his father to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

[T]his place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.

Daniel is allowed to choose one book of his own. He finds The Shadow of the Wind written by Julián Carax. When he inquires about the author himself, Daniel soon becomes dragged into a mystery that finds its origins thirty years earlier in the 1910s. Also, while he is poking around in Barcelona’s community to find more answers, the dastardly Laín Coubert, “the man without a face,” is desperately after Daniel’s copy which he has full intention of destroying which he has done to all of Carax’s previous copies.

Like a good cover blurb, this book is filled with death, murder, mystery, corruption, yada yada. Because Zafón was masterfull at wrapping a good story together, I couldn’t help but think back to my own book that I have been working on FOREVER. The Shadow of the Wind winds itself around different characters, different decades, and at times, different perspectives. In an expertly manner, the author divulges information or holds it close to his chest to not reveal too much right away. I recommend this to everyone but especially people who are working on their own project that might becoming a massive, out-of-hand endeavor.

The characteristic that stuck out to me the most was the plotting. The prose was beautiful and Zafón’s plotting really made this book a delight. What really stood prominent was when to hold back information and when to release it. This led to a natural feeling of “detective” on the part of the reader. We have Daniel who is also looking for clues and is acting as our surrogate.

Finally! This is the first book for The [International] Reading List.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) by Mindy Kaling

When I’m not over-stressing about due dates and my continual cursing of the German language for being hard, I crave a “book of one’s own.” This past weekend, I had just that. In what was pretty much a 48-hour period, I read two funny and completely well-written books (the second, I will write about at a later date).

Mindy Kaling’s book was a page turner to say the least. Even in her prologue she says the book should only take two days and nothing more. Any free moment I had, I found myself totally engrossed in it. Just as a quick catch-up: Mindy Kaling is a writer for The Office as well as one of the actors on the show.

I’m hesitant to label this a collection of essays but more like Kaling and I have sat down to eat the tasty strawberry pastries at the cafe down the street and we’re just chit-chatting (mostly her talking and me trying not to spit out the pastry from too much laughing). I have a problem with what I have termed “power reading”¹ and wished I could have savored this book longer (but I suppose that was not her intention).

I love non-fiction books that fall under the David Sedaris Column (whatever that may be). Well-written, funny & hilarious without being just a cheap gag, and clearly not penned by a ghost writer.

Her publisher put up an excerpt online.

¹ For the past few years, I have been a sufferer of power reading. I’m having an incredibly difficult time curing this malady. When I have a chance, I will write a post about power reading–both the good and the bad.