A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving

I participated in a book club in college and one of the books chosen seemed like it would be boring. I remember not wanting to read it but was committed to the book club so I bought it and read it anyways. The book was called The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

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The book really surprised me. It was very historical and set in a kind or Merchant of Venice age.

Here is a synopsis: Barcelona, 1945 – just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

The book was actually very exciting. Daniel had a curiosity that could not be satisfied and needed to find out everything about Julian Carax. It starts out a little slow but eventually becomes a murder mystery and Daniel’s intrigue for more pushes him past boundaries and into places he would never have dreamt of before reading the work of Julian. Th author does like to go very in depth into his descriptions but the book is worth the read in my eyes.

Let me know what book surprised you in the comments! Talk to you soon book worms 🙂

5 Comments

  1. Summer Gone by David MacFarlane.

    It also ranks up there with the book I won’t reread because the first time effected me so emotionally and strongly that I don’t want to alter that first experience. This was a book given to me by one of my former profs, and wasn’t the type of book I’d normally read. The story is gradually revealed in a series of segues. It is like the writer can’t stay on track with a single train of thought and his story wanders everywhere from past to present, to second-hand stories he’d heard to his own perspective. You have to wait for subsequent chapters where he’ll wander back into a continuation of the previous story arc.|t is difficult to write this way, but it is skillfully done.

    In the end it all comes together in one powerful whole. About a month later I suddenly realized why the story wanders all over; it was because it was told by the main character’s son who has difficulty in school with relating stories in a coherent whole. When that (finally) clicked in I was even more impressed with the author’s subtle writing.

    The book comes across as slow, methodical, but you get drawn in so easily as you want to see how the little vignette ties in with the other vignettes and you’re wondering what happened next in the story. Or what happened in the past and how that action in the past relates to the current action underway (which is still in the past) and how that relates to the present day telling, which you forget is happening as you’re drawn so strongly into the past.

    I just checked the official Amazon reviews and they’re what I remember of the book too. E.g. is a tragedy but one so exquisitely rendered, with an ending so startling, that, like a dive into icy water, it leaves the reader breathless. –Mark Frutkin

    Definitely not the type of book I’d even borrow from a library to read, but am glad I did read it. Such skillful writing.

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  2. It’s not so much he switches characters it is he relates the story the same way the young man with the dyslexia would. I’ve not seen this technique used before. Really recommend reading it to get a flavour of the ebb and flow. One reviewer talks about a powerful current–which is apt given the story features canoeing and a current that changes everything–that pulls you along for the ride.

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  3. For me this would be The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I heard a lot about this book, a lot of good things, so I finally decided to read it this past summer. I struggled to finish it, but I’m glad I did. The main character, Don, for me was really hard to like and enjoy. It’s difficult for me to explain Don’s character, he is “an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor”. Don comes off as very rude and judgmental. He has his ways and accepts nothing else. I really could not stand this book because of Don, until I met Rosie. And then everything was better. By the end, Don was still irritating to me but more tolerable. The book overall is very good, it has some romance but not too much where it was nauseating, and there was also a bit of mystery as Rosie is determined to find her birth father. I do want to read the sequel, The Rosie Effect, because I want to see how the characters build off of each other.

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