Good books in a bad economy

OK, these aren’t books about what to do with your money. It’s just that books are really the cheapest form of entertainment right now, and these days, I’m all about the cheap and the good. So here’s what I’ve been reading.

“On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction” by Karl Iagnemma. This Physicist and novelist had his first publication at the age of 21 in Playboy magazine. I came across a story about him on NOVA and was intrigued. Being a Physicist and being a Novelist are both full-time careers and yet this guy seems to do both very well. In this book of short stories, all romantic situations are set in the academic world, all with¬†vivid and often painful detail. These aren’t your normal protagonists, but they are identifiable all the same. I wasn’t able to get through the last story though. My patience for delving into the psyche of academics had worn thin by the end. But you might be able to, and I definitely recommend giving it a try, especially if you’re a guy.

“The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I had already read and loved “Sister of My Heart” her 1999 novel, but this one has now taken it’s place as my favorite book of all time. That place was previously held by Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist” so it’s high praise. This is the kind of book I would have liked to write. It also doesn’t hurt that it appeals to my Indian half. It follows a woman from birth to re-birth and deals with all the loves and the many, many mistakes she makes in-between. It was hard to get into the book for the first several pages, but was definitely worth the effort. I would happily read this many times over.

“The Third Angel” by Alice Hoffman. I loved “Aquamarine” and in fact, the novel that I’m working on now is inspired in part, by “Aquamarine” and its sequel, “Indigo.” (By the way, I didn’t care for the movie version of “Aquamarine.”) And I didn’t realize that Hoffman also wrote “Practical Magic” which is one of my favorite movies (Oh, shut it. Like you don’t like sappy girl movies?). But right now I’m in the middle of “The Third Angel” and I’m already sorry it’s going to end at some point. I can’t give it a full review, but it’s expertly written and the characters are so real, I can almost pick them out of a crowd.

Now get thee to a library and pick up some good entertainment, because who can afford anything else these days?

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