Early in the week I finished reading Mary Doria Russel’s The Sparrow, which was totally and completely awesome. So totally and completely awesome, that I don’t even know what to say about it yet. The ending, which you sort of know is coming based on the structure of the story and the clues that are being dropped along the way, was a total surprise. Finishing the book also felt like an emotional punch to the stomach, which I know makes no sense but is the only thing I can think to describe what I felt when I put it down.
After I finished The Sparrow, I had one of those moments where I felt like that book had ruined all other books for me. I couldn’t imagine picking up another book… it would just pale in comparison. But I also wanted to READ ALL THE THINGS because The Sparrow reminded me how supremely great literature can be. It was a conundrum.
I decided to read a couple of books that were as far from being like The Sparrow that I could find — The Long Shot by Ellen Hartman (romance) and All the Money in the World by Laura Vanderkam (nonfiction on the economics of happiness).
I impulsively bought The Long Shot after it was chosen for this month’s Sizzling Book Club Pick at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. The description — a retired pro basketball player with family issues returns to his high school to help his sexy former guidance counselor coach the girls’ basketball team — was cheesy and fun and goofy, and I’m nothing if not an easily convinced ebook buyer. It turned out to be the perfect palate cleanser after The Sparrow – simple plot, engaging characters, some fun sexytimes for distraction. It was good enough and I had a good time reading it.
My other palate cleanser — All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending – is probably less of a surprise read for me. In the book, author Laura Vanderkam (who also wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think) looks at what science says about how money can make us happy and the ways our behaviors don’t mesh with those results. The book felt like a nice mix of effective research, personal anecdotes, and self-helpish worksheets. I’m planning a full review of this one at some point, so I’ll just say for now Vanderkam challenged a lot of assumptions I had about money (and what it’s good for) in a good way. I liked this one a lot.
The best part about both books is that I feel reinvigorated to get reading again. Which is good, because in addition to packing for Book Expo America (I leave home on Friday and fly to New York City on Saturday, eek!) I’m hoping to get a couple more books read and be caught up on reviews before I leave. We’ll see how that goes!
Do you ever need palate cleansing books? What are you genres or authors of choice when you need a palate cleanse?