Lunchtime in the Park

July 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Men in vests; showing off their sunburnt shoulders, girls wearing hotpants that ride up their thighs a little too high, children with tails attached to their caps, big sunglasses, cute dresses, street bars buzzing with conversation and laughter  – English summer is here. And I love it!

I went to my favourite second hand bookshop yesterday… crammed full of books climbing upon one another, filling the walls and tables and floor space – so many that I have to force myself to look briefly and move on (that is, if the day is to be saved). I wanted to find a light read; something I could dip into on my lunch-break and fall back out of again easily. Of course, there is a line between ‘easy read’ and ‘trash’ – the latter inviting anything but easiness; rather an awkward feeling of pain. The man behind the counter understood my search, telling me with a smile that he serves some customers thinking he should advise brown paper to cover the title page, so embarrassingly poor is their purchase. Together, we agreed that Anita Shreve was a good choice. Light, but decent enough writing. I got two books of hers for a pound – ‘Fortune’s Rocks’ and another, the name of which escapes me.

Settling down in the park, the sun warming my legs and the breeze playing with my bare arms, I began to read. And I have to say, Shreve provided just what I was looking for. The story began on the beaches of New England on the last year of the century before last, and is about a year girl called Olympia on the cusp of turning 16. I am not very far in and so far there are only hints of a love affair to come, but I feel slightly uneasy about it already – and, not knowing Shreve well, am hoping that I have in fact chosen a good book – not one that will leave me feeling somehow robbed of those hours I gave to it. We’ll see.

What makes a book ‘good’ for you? (A ridiculous question I know, but interesting to think about nonetheless!) What is it that defines the best books you’ve read?

 

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