Monday, September 26, 2011

Hours of Fun for A Dollar Apiece

Considering that I own shelves of novels I have not yet had time to read, I exhibited great restraint Saturday at our town's library book sale. I bought only four hardbacks, but they are all books that I very much want to read.

THE PASSION OF ARTEMISIA by Susan Vreeland. This book, about a seventeenth-century female painter, has long been on my virtual to-be-read pile, but after hearing Ms. Vreeland speak at this June's Historical Novel Society Conference, it moved to the top. I was so impressed by her impassioned arguments on the role fiction plays in fostering compassion and human connection that I am very eager to read her work and experience her creative vision for myself.

BAUDOLINO by Umberto Eco. My college-age son had to read THE NAME OF THE ROSE for class this past summer, reminding me how much I enjoyed that novel when I read it years ago. Although I once attempted (and failed) to make it through FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM, I thought I'd try Eco again with this novel.

MY NAME IS RED by Orhan Pamuk (winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature). This curious novel is set in sixteenth-century Istanbul and deals with the murder of a court miniaturist selected by the Sultan to illustrate a great book in the European style--a dangerous proposition, given that figurative art can be deemed an affront to Islam. Mixing romance with mystery, fantasy and philosophical discussion and narrated from multiple viewpoints ranging from that of a corpse to the color black, this novel promises to be a challenging and satisfying read.

HUNGER'S BRIDES by Paul Anderson. I was tempted to check this book out from the library once, but its size daunted me--at 1358 pages, it weighs 4 1/2 pounds and is 2 1/2 inches thick! It explores the life of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a seventeenth-century Mexican nun who wrote plays, poetry and theological arguments before signing a vow of silence in her own blood at the age of forty. Anderson frames the historical portions of the book within a contemporary academic mystery plot. I'm curious to see whether this book, which breaks every taboo for a first novel, lives up to the hype.

I think I did pretty well for a grand sum of $4! Now if I could only purchase the hours to read them... Readers? Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think?


gio said...

Wow, what a great deal you got! They all sound like fascinating reads.

Pat Bracewell said...

I very much enjoyed "The Passion of Artemisia", which was recommended to me by an artist friend.

Julianne Douglas said...

Glad to hear it! I've read non-fiction accounts of Artemesia's life and am eager to see how Ms. Vreeland dramatizes the events.

Alexander said...

Interesting list you made here! Thanks for all the information!

Julianne Douglas said...

You're welcome! I hope you get a chance to read some of them for yourself.