Well, what did you expect?

Ikea does it again!  Their cleverly designed tier of wire document trays sitting to my left has just yielded the answer to an unavoidable question.

Amid household receipts and insurance papers awaiting pre-income tax filing, I dredged up a snapshot of a popular book display from years ago.  This feature, titled “Promises, Promises”, consisted of dozens of too-good-to-be-true titles.  Among the ones I can decipher from the photo are Inventing Made Easy, The Instant Gourmet, Learn Windows 98 in a Weekend, How to Win at Gambling, and so forth. 

The display succeeded then (those books were practically irresistible and checked out like crazy), and today it finally suggests a simple response to “And what do you like to read?” 

Faced with that question, I usually hesitate before admitting to eclectic tastes including but not limited to debut novels, classics, literary fiction, short story collections, and “certain nonfiction books”.  Now, recalling the stash of books that likely delivered less than advertised, here’s a more articulate reply:  I prefer books that go beyond the expected.

This past weekend, the first three stories in Colm Toibin’s brand-new collection, The Empty Family, delighted me with their Jamesian themes.  One episode features Henry James himself as a character; the others remind us that James perceived early on how differences in American and European sensibilities represent competing claims on one’s loyalties.

Another winner I just finished is Penny Vincenzi’s Forbidden Places, chosen as light romantic fare.  Along with Vincenzi’s usual well-written plot convolutions, the World War II setting chronicles interesting details about Land Girls and the WRENS–and more than a bit of suspense.

And a bonus awaited me today at the joint Round Rock Reads!/Round Rock New Neighbors discussion at Barnes & Noble.  Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde prompted an enthusiastic sharing of insights.  However, even before the planned exchange commenced, the short list of March nominations (thanks, Jay!) was announced.  Looks like four more contenders for what I–and probably you–like to read:   

  • Nicholas, Denise:  Freshwater Road

  • Garcia, Cristina:  A Handbook to Luck

  • Cohn, Marthe:  Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

  • Smith, Patti.  Just Kids

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