Book 47 of 80 and Book 47 Completed
Full disclosure — I don’t know how it happened. I’ve READ books faster than I could blog about them. The whole Embroideries thing happened three days ago and then I started reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini later that same night. And I finished it yesterday. And started on book 48 last night. (I was trying to space out my blog entries — just do a blog entry a day. But when you finish three books the same day you blog about starting them…and by the time you’re blogging a review, you’re already on to the next book…and this happens a few times, well, you get ahead of yourself!)
Is this reading starting to seem obsessive? Hey — yesterday, I also cleaned my garage for an hour, watched two episodes of Mad Men, did three loads of laundry, took a nap, went to the gym, and got some take-out Chinese food for dinner. Oh, yeah, there’s a child to watch in there too.
No. I’m not on crack. I’ve mentioned this before: I’m watching less TV. And going to bed around ten and reading until midnight every night. That helps!
It has also helped that Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran were naturally fast reads — short, fast-paced, easily devoured.
AND then it helped that I got REALLY into Hosseini’s book. I thought it would slow down my pace; I thought I’d think it was okay, but I’d plug along. No. No. After twenty pages, I was hooked. I fell in love with naive Mariam and I cried for her, yelled at my walls at her injustices. I thought Afghanistan was beautifully portrayed and Hosseini does a great job at weaving into the narrative information about the political climate of the country. Unlike some books, it never felt weighty — over-the-top or preachy.
A Thousand Splendid Suns made me care about these Afghan women. It gave me a true villain — someone to loathe — and the setting was written in such a clear and vivid manner that I often forgot I was on my couch, watching my nearly 20 month-old-child crawl into his toy box and stack blocks on his head.
It was so well done that my mind created its own version of Kabul. I saw the neighborhoods: I could trace a finger from Laila’s house to Mariam’s house — the secret place where Tariq and Laila first kissed. I was there — in that war-torn country.
The entire book has a very cinematic feel to it. Not that it felt like it was written to be a movie, but that Hosseini was writing to a specific audience: The average buyers of popular fiction. I guess what I mean is, Hosseini found monumental success with The Kite Runner, and for a sophomore attempt, it makes sense not to bite the hand that pays you. It was so much like a movie plot that it bordered on cliche. If you boiled down the basic plot, it’s not really very original per se (I’d list out the cliches, but some of them are spoiler-y). What surprised me is that the cliches didn’t end up taking away from how much I enjoyed this book. I was willing to forgive the lack of originality because Hosseini gave me a great setting and well-drawn characters. And besides, if what they say is true, that nothing is really that original these days.
Anyway, I liked A Thousand Splendid Suns. I never finished The Kite Runner…I liked the writing a lot and was intrigued by the story…but I got busy and didn’t find the time to finish it fully. Maybe I’ll have to come back and correct this once I’ve finished The Kite Runner, but my guess is that I’ll end up liking this book better. It’s not a small book and I finished it in a day; I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t expecting to love it and I did — what a fantastic July surprise!