What’s in the (book) bag?

I ran an errand to my bank yesterday. It was only suppose to be a quick errand, but I got done faster than I thought I would. It was a beautiful day and my bank is near so many neat shops. So I couldn’t resist; I shopped, and inevitably ended up at Blue Elephant Bookstore.

This is what I bought:

Have you heard of this book by Anna Napolitano? I started reading it last night and am totally into it. I was a little skeptical of a contemporary author laying claim to the great Flannery O’Connor, but I’m really impressed with Napolitano’s writing so far, which is confident without the flourishes. She pays homage to the Southern Gothic writer, recreating the eery setting of O’Connor’s stories, while still constructing the narrative in a way that is entirely her own. But even more breath-taking is how Napolitano has borrowed – with a twist – the dark and intense mood of O’Connor’s work. That hint of something sinister lying just below the surface that is always present O’Connor’s works as in other Southern Gothic literature, is there, too, in Napolitano’s.

As an added plus, it also makes a gorgeous coffee table book. Just look at that plumage! (Perhaps it would look more gorgeous on someone else’s, less abused coffee table.)

I also bought The Magicians by Lev Grossman. It’s sequel, The Magician King, has garnered so much praise in recent months (more importantly, I’ve heard it out of the mouths of my own trusted booksellers) that I thought it was finally time to give The Magician a go. I’ve learned from experience to wait a little while before buying a book that’s surrounded by buzz/hype. Whatever you want to call it – buzz, hype, praise – all are manufactured by the people with invested interests. No fault to them, they’re just doing their job. But all the same I prefer not to spend my money until it’s been around a while and people are still talking about it. Too often I’ve rushed to buy the new darling of the publishing world and have been disappointed by the quality.

Plus, I quite like the sound of The Magicians: A miserable high school math genius is admitted to an elite, secret college of magic. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s said to be a more adult Narnia and Harry Potter, with darker secrets and more danger. Luke and I have been eyeing this as a potential read-aloud book for quite a while now…. you know, as a change from the children’s books we normally read together (Watership Down, The Phantom Tollbooth, Asterix et Obelix).

I’d love to hear what’s on your nightstands these days. Have you read either of these books? What have you read recently that you’re an evangelist for? I’d love to hear!

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