Friday, October 2, 2009

Of hedgehogs and puzzles

Just a couple of quick book recommendations!

  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.

    I picked this up at the library after reading a really interesting article by Kim Allen-Niesen about the sad lack of European books being translated into English, which pointed out the French-to-English translated Hedgehog as a particularly wonderful sample of the possibilities we're missing out on.

    I was so enchanted by this book that I broke my cardinal rule of Good Librarianship, and I took a library book on vacation with me. Camping. In the woods of Acadia. Of course, this makes for a bittersweet ending -- the one night I left the book out on the picnic table, it rained. (It gets dark quickly, and if you assume that you've put away all perishables earlier in the evening, well, let's just say there's no last look around by the light of the living room lamp to ensure you're right...)

    The characters are eminently human, the humor is tart, the elegance is natural enough to bowl you over. Try it. You just might like it -- I did.

  • The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History with Jigsaws, by Margaret Drabble

    This one drew me in with its simple but tantalizing cover, I admit it. What made me take it home, however, was its premise. Drabble takes us through an intriguing account of English games and their history. This information is peppered throughout her own recollections of games and family interactions and what it all means.

    I'm still in the process of reading this one, but I'm definitely enjoying it. It's interesting to get to know the author in this oblique way, with all her foibles and fascinations examined piece by piece and then gradually reassembled in a whole pattern ... not unlike a jigsaw puzzle. A very pleasant way to pass the time.
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