The weather is turning, and as it gets colder and darker, books become more and more appropriate company. Here are 4 worth checking out.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder– This is a nice, short read, at a bit over 100 pages, but with far more to it than its short page-length might suggest. In this book Wilder builds up several rich character sketches that standalone as short stories, but then ties them together into a single arc, the moment when these characters’ tales come together at their tragic deaths. There are lots of lovely bits in this one, quotable passages and beautiful imagery and ideas, without the hundreds of pages of filler many classics bulk up with.
Scapegoat, by Daphne duMaurier– This is another of my favorite shorter books, a tale of a fellow who gets to start over in a new life. It is a bit empowering, actually, in that it makes me wonder quite seriously how someone else would make something better out of the starting materials of my life as it is now. We (most of us) often wish we could start over or trade our lives with other people without ever really recognizing what resources we already possess that we just never recognize.
The Engines of God, by Jack McDevitt– If sci-fi is more your ‘thing’, this book might be worth a read. It is very nerdy sci-fi, archaeologists versus engineers and political powers racing the clock to discover a new home for mankind away from Earth, and at the same time struggling to discover the meaning behind a disturbing pattern in the interstellar archaeological record. There is a heavy element of semi-realistic doomsday climate change and human overpopulation, and the sociopolitical side of the story is underdeveloped, but the premise is still cool. At over 400 pages, this one is longer, but it is still a light, fast read, and highly entertaining.
The Halloween Tree, by Ray Bradbury– Some of Bradbury’s books were clearly written with younger readers in mind, and this is one of them. The 11yr old boys that populate his books would love this story and relate easily to the main characters, but it alsohas a lot to offer for adult readers. This story traces some of the elements of world cultures that have been brought together over the decades to make up the current imagery of Halloween. This is another quite short book, at not quite 100 pages in my paperback.