I’ve always been a bit of a book snoop, furtively looking over people’s shoulders to check out what they are reading and wondering why they made that choice, why that particular book appealed. It might even be considered rude, but somehow I just can’t resist the burning need to know what others are reading. Now I’ve discovered that there are a lot of book snoops like me out there! Some of them are even making a happy living doing this.
So in my recent travels around town, in airports and with friends and family, I have been busy scoping out what people are reading to share with you. (It was kind of surprising that only two people are reading ebooks. Several readers said they love print books and simply do not want to take that electronic leap.)
Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. No surprise here with the movie coming out this month! In this last book in the Twilight series, Bella finally chooses between Edward and Jacob. (Being read by a teen age girl in the airport — and not on a Kindle!)
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. The engrossing story of twin boys, abandoned at birth and raised in the medical profession. The complex characters and rich setting make this book eminently worthy of book club discussions.) (Being read by #1 daughter with her book club.)
Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. A brilliant Paris concierge tries to hide her astonishing intelligence while providing astute philosophical comments on the meaning of life. Her superior intellect is discovered by a precocious young girl who harbors a secret plan to commit suicide. They find support in each other’s company. (Being read by an English teacher.)
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson. Unconventional computer hacker, Lisbeth, must rely on the instincts and research of journalist Blomkvist in this action-packed final chapter of Larsson’s immensely popular crime series. (Being read by a middle-aged scholarly-looking gentleman on his Kindle on the airplane coming home from Munich.)
I See Rude People by Amy Alkon. Hysterically funny book which chastises those people in society who ruin our day with their rudeness. You know them: aggressive drivers, inappropriate cell phone users, people who have no business being in the express lane, parents who think their children can do no wrong, obnoxious Internet bloggers, people who try to see what book you are reading.... (Being read by a stylish 40-ish teacher getting a pedicure who couldn’t stop laughing.)
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. 1936 Berlin comes to life in this enthralling true story of U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his fun-loving daughter who are both caught up in Hitler’s relentless rise to absolute power. (Being read on the airplane from Munich to Washington by a 20-something man from Germany.)
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Born in Somalia and raised as a strict Muslim, Ali has come to view her religion as bigoted and dangerous and she is on a mission to alert the enemies of Islam. This is the true story of her journey from Somalia to Amsterdam to the United States and her personal struggles with her beliefs. Her courage in speaking out against radical Islam has actually put her life in danger. (Being read by a college professor in the doctor’s office.)
The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan. A disfigured recluse spends almost 60 years hidden away in a marble mansion in Mill River, Vt. Townspeople just leave her alone, but some newcomers are determined to know her story. (Being read on his Kindle by a male social studies teacher on the airplane going to Berlin. This book apparently is available only in Kindle form and for just 99 cents. Though it seems like a shameless ploy to get you to buy a Kindle, it is getting surprisingly good reviews.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This debut novel by a fellow Smithie — a Smith College grad, though much younger than me — has all the components of an enthralling magical read: A mysterious circus that appears only at night, conniving magicians with superpowers plus a doomed love interest. Some predict this will be the next Harry Potter. (Being read by a young mother in Goddard Park. Hope she saves it for her daughter to read when she is older.)
The Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. A wealthy but lonely widower orders a “plain and simple” mail-order bride. What he gets is a beautiful and devious woman with plans of her own to become a wealthy widow. (Being read by #2 daughter who says it was one of the most engaging books she’s read this year.)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I’m so glad students are still reading this timeless classic! This transformative novel with its unforgettable characters in small-town America had a huge impact on me when I read it as a teen. I am inspired to reread it. (Being read by a teenage girl for sophomore English class.)
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy. The well-known fairy tale retold as a Holocaust story set in Poland. Two Jewish children are abandoned by their parents and told to never say their Jewish names. They are to tell anyone who asks that they are Hansel and Gretel. (Being read by a retired pre-school teacher who found it fascinating.)
Room by Emma Donoghue. A 5-year-old boy and his mother live in a small room where they are held captive by a man who kidnapped and imprisoned the mother years ago. The boy was born in “Room” and “Room” is all he knows of life. (being read by me. Wow, more about this powerful novel next column. CPID! Can’t put it down!)
Have you read any of these? We'd love to know what you think.