September 22, 2004
Yesterday we returned from a ten day Texas vacation, where i was able to put a significant dent in my 52 Books/52 Weeks project. Leisurely reading is a luxury I look forward to on holiday, and I finished four books during our much-needed break.
When I picked up Waiting for Snow in Havana, I expected a thrilling true account of Cuba's revolution through the eyes of a child. The book not only rewards the reader with the memoir, but does so with beautiful use of language that captivates as well as narrates.
Before we left on our trip, I found a tattered copy of Flannery O'Conner's Wise Blood at a used bookstore. Having lost my own copy while in college, I picked up the book and decided that it would be the first book I've reread all year. I found the book heartbreaking, bleak, and funny, as it celebrated the southern grotesque as only Flannery O'Conner could.
Once we arrived in Texas, I asked my brother for an interesting book or two (a tradition we carry on every time we meet). The first book he handed me was On Love by Alain de Botton. de Botton examines a love affair in great detail, from beginning to end, and through that affair love in general. The result is insightful and classically-tinged without being dry. This book drew me into the lives of the protagonists with humor and discerning observation, and made me anxious to read more of de Botton.
The second book I borrowed from my brother was The Advent of the Algorithm: The 300-Year Journey from an Idea to the Computer, by David Berlinski. The book was fascinating for its ideas, but these were often hidden under the dense prose of Berlinski. His style is probably an acquired taste: a mix of essays, fiction and history. I would have a hard time recommending this to anyone who didn't enjoy at least one of Berlinski's previous books.