Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Golem and the Jinni

I’m a librarian – reading books is basically what I do for a living. Through my life there have been a handful of books that hit me – Colony of Unrequited Dreams, Anil’s Ghost and Fall on Your Knees are three that come to mind off the bat. The Golem and the Jinni is one of those books, and I’m not saying that lightly. I was pre-disposed to like it I think – I loved the idea of mysticism, my Mom immigrated to NYC post WW2 as a child so the idea of a book set among the kind of romance of immigration (admittedly 50 years earlier) was one I could get behind. I love Jewish Folklore – hell, I love any folklore. I love historical fiction. I’m also the first to admit that I love New York. I do. I grew up spending summers there and I remember the beauty, hope and life that to me that city means. So what I’m saying is my pre-disposition to like the book scared me. I really really wanted to love it and was worried I was setting the book up to not be able to meet expectations. In no way did this book not meet expectations.

One reviewer said the book humbled him – it humbled me too. Wecker’s debut (Guys, this is a debut novel. Seriously. When you read it you won’t believe it.) wove a story in the best possible tradition of storytelling. It’s magical realism at it’s absolute best. It’s heartbreaking, touching and quite possibly shows an almost staggeringly accurate ability to write characters that make you want to believe in fairy tales again. It’s about the struggle to fit in, to belong, to find place and meaning, to create a home, build a family, hope and future. Wecker’s ability to write meaningfully about feeling like you don’t know where your home is threw me – it wasn’t said but the longing felt by the characters of their memories was touching in its simple beauty.

On a more surface level I plowed through the book, but I wouldn’t cash in on it as an ‘easy fast’ read, I just couldn’t put it down. The pacing is on the slower side (this isn’t a complaint in the least, Wecker pulled it out beautifully) and to be honest I was sad to come to the end of the book. The mysticism of the book was beautifully real, not forced and the details were in the subtleties.

Basically I can’t wait to see what Wecker comes up with next.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

I loved this book. I loved this book so damn much. So full disclosure, I say in my reviews I’m a librarian. This is true. The more fun thing is my degree is actually a Masters of Information. Yes. I am a Master of Information. This is a thing. So I got this book because how could I not? So yes I geeked out a million percent while reading this book, and my review is 100% biased in that this is a topic I love.

So. Things about this book. The title is exactly what the book is about the history of information which is SO DAMN FASCINATING because honestly guys,  our ability to comprehend is staggering.  How we transmit, perceive and underestimate information is fascinating. Seriously, it is and I don’t think just to people who generally geek out over it. Think about it – what we’re doing, understanding and thinking about not long ago would have been considered actual miracles. We can find out anything, and not only can we, but we now expect it to be easy. We can change, transmit, edit and argue over what information is and how we understand it and those of us who know are scared equally of the struggle to contain and provide access to it.

To be honest again I actually picked up this book back when it was released in 2011 and I didn’t read it then because at the time I was just finishing up my Masters and honestly couldn’t emotionally handle the idea of reading anything else about it. But the thing is, I’m SO glad I found it and read it.  I don’t think it’s written in a particularly high style, it was an easy-ish read and I sincerely think it’s worth a grab for everyone. This is cool stuff guys.