Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On favorite Books & FAVORITE Books: A review of The Goldfinch in two parts

Part One

I have favorite books, and then I have FAVORITE books.  A lot of my favorite books represent different genres, and types of books.  Sometimes they're a series, where it's not simply one book, but the entire collection that has made them favorites (Harry Potter, Ramona, The Moomins).  A lot of times my favorite books are favorites because I think they're beautifully written, or unique and interesting, or I just really like them.  Some of my favorite books include Little WomenTinkers, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Moby Dick, and more recently, Amor and Psycho.  I have a lot of favorite books.

But FAVORITE books...they are a different thing entirely.  These are books that I finish and clutch to my chest, unwilling to let go.  Books that are always well written, but with something more about them that simply stirs me.  Books that I hesitate to recommend to friends because I worry I will think less of those friends should they not feel the same way I do.  These are the books that induce the severest cases of PPD (Post Potter Depression- the feeling one gets after finishing the latest Harry Potter book, knowing that the next Harry Potter book is years away from being released, and realizing that no other book will ever make one happy again).

And these FAVORITES are the books that make me believe, just a little bit, in magic.

FAVORITE books are perfect and painful.  And the list is much shorter, and doesn't seem to fluctuate much.  The Shipping News, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and Stoner.  Those are my FAVORITES.  Today, I'm adding The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt to the list.


Allow me an anecdote to convey the depths of my feelings for this book.

On Monday, heading home from work, I checked Facebook and saw that The Killers had surprise "leaked" their new song.  It's not something I could hear on my phone with any real clarity, so I decided to wait until I was home to listen.  If you are at all unaware of my rather ardent feelings for The Killers, please, just peruse the Killers tag on this blog.  It's a serious, sometimes debilitating obsession.  Actually, maybe don't peruse the Killers tag, it's a bit embarrassing.

But on Monday, heading home from work, I also had just 60 pages left of The Goldfinch (an 800 page book that I tore through in the better part of a week).  Funnily enough, I had started reading it on my recent trip to see The Killers in concert.

SO, when I got home, I curled up in bed and I read.  I finished The Goldfinch.  And I cried.  And then I read the summary and blurbs on the back of the book, and the letter from the editor inside (I was reading an advance copy).  I read the author bio, and the author thanks section.  I went back and read some of my favorite passages and then I read the end again.  And it was 2 hours later until I even remembered there was a new Killers song to listen to.

This book erased The Killers from my mind. This book has powers. This book frightens me.


A bit more on the actual book to come.