Monday, July 13, 2009

Read Any Good Books Lately?

"The Historian", by Elizabeth Kostova

book website:

[ 6/3/2010 ... I never went back and re-read this after its initial post ... It was written late at night during an insomnia kick (usually a 3-5 day stretch with little ...maybe 2 hrs. of non-deep sleep per night ... or no sleep).  I read this book review again now...  for the first time ... and just cringe ... talk about COMMA OVERLOAD?!!? ... Hah ... I think each comma overused represents an actual brain stall on my part at the time.  ; )   Oh well, think I have corrected the annoying overuse.  Please re-read and forgive ... ]

I have to admit, that since embarking upon a journey to write a book, I have not read as much as I normally do -- I usually have at least six books, of different genres ( e.g., history, science, fiction, religion, politics) going at any given time.  The latter being said, I did manage to finish a rather lengthy, but nonetheless engaging, contemporary novel:  "The Historian", by Elizabeth Kostova.  "The Historian" was a challenging but also an incredibly interesting read, especially if you happen to love history --as I do.  This novel is probably one of the hardest books that I've read (for fun) since my college days, but it was well worth the effort. I really liked the ending of this book as well. [Note: Have since read Dante's "Divine Comedy" ... the latter makes "The Historian" look like a cake walk. ; ) ]

"The Historian" is a bit slow moving at first, but it picks up after the first 100, or so pages.  This book is 909 pages total. "The Historian" is a slightly different take on traditional vampire lore, with an old world feel. Kostova uses beautiful imagery to describe places in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. You almost feel as if you've actually been to these places yourself after you've read Kostova's brilliant depictions of these fabulous places.

The characters in "The Historian" are well developed and likeable. I would, however, liked to have seen a bit more of Dracula in the writing ... appearances ... inner thoughts, etc. of the book.  Most of the book consists of chasing the shadows of Dracula.  That is to say, sorting through the myth, legend and history in order to find your way toward a 'living' Dracula, near the end. Although, when Dracula finally does make an appearance in this tale it is a memorable one.

Kostova also gives a lot of historical references in "The Historian", some authentic and some fictional.  These references are often in form of documents and letters, that can be a bit hard to read through. I won't lie to you: there are ALOT of these document references included in the text. And large portions of the book are written in the form of letters that you have to read through in order to keep up with what's happening in the story proper. Good news is that you can skim through most of the historical documents just to get the basic gist if you like.  Skimming is a bit harder to do with the letters, but the latter are often shorter in length than the documents.

This novel has an underlying romantic element, but it isn't overstated and the love scenes aren't over the top. I give Kostova credit for writing them herself -- I may have to have mine ghost written ... hard to put yourself totally out there with respect to romantic encounters, to be seen and judged by others. 
Bottom line:  if you're into vampires and the like, but demand a bit more in your reading than the current "Twilight" series of books -- which my grade school daughter who reads at a high school level and above (so I'm honestly not saying that "Twilight" is a series for nitwits, or anything) ... absolutely loves (My daughter has read the complete "Twilight" series three times already!) -- then "The Historian" might just be for you.

Side Note: I saw that Sony Pictures has plans to make this book into a movie, so others seem to have liked the story as well. Check it out:

6/3/2010 ... Nothing new has since materialized on the movie making front, so perhaps Sony decided to pull the plug on the movie version of this book?

Right now: I'm revisiting Michael Crichton's books. Great author! Somehow, I missed "State of Fear", so I'm starting with that one. I tried reading "Galileo's Daughter", by Dava Sobel, but I have too much going on in my life right now to be able to really dive into that book at the present time. Maybe this winter? In addition to the reading of novels, I am also scanning through some science articles on applications of fractals in science, physics/astronomy news and updates, and of course always I'm always reading something new on world religions in an effort to gain some different perspectives and insights for the journey we are all on in this life.

Happy Reading! Let me know if you've read any good books lately. I'm always looking for things to add to my TBR list.

P.S. Saw a Blogger with a blog out there where the author reviews books and wine -- interesting combination? Maybe, wine enhances the reading experience? Have to try that. -- Anyway, it got me thinking ... wondering ... has anyone out there ever had a good Cabernet Sauvingon? I haven't?! I love most red wines, particularly Pinot Noir. Maybe, I just haven't had a good Cab yet? Preferably a bottle under $40.00?

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Thanks for taking a moment to share your thoughts. I'll read them and post them soon! God Bless! M