It’s impossible to deny that I’m a total nerd when it comes to books. My whole family adores reading (save one sister who hates it, and who we regard as an anomaly – just kidding, love you sis!) so this love has been instilled in me since I was young. My dad used to take me to the library every week, telling me it was library policy that I could only take out ten books at a time. I would spend the better part of an hour hemming and hawing, stalking the shelves, sitting cross-legged on the floor, sometimes trying to decide between one book or another. I know right? I would go back in time and tell myself: “Lighten up, kid. You’ll be back next week.”
Wanna hear the kicker? So the summer after first year (of UNIVERSITY, that is), I accidentally tried to take out 11 books/magazines. And…nothing happened. I sort of recounted and looked at the lady, before asking whether I had to put something back. And guess what? The policy has always been 50 items at a time. The first time my dad heard how angry I was to be duped my whole life, I’m pretty sure he laughed so hard he cried. I think it’s pretty funny too…now.
The point is, I love books, I love to read. Please note: I never ever once finished all ten in the 1-2 weeks I had them out. I just loved seeing a big stack and being able to choose one from many. Maybe I’m a little greedy when it comes to books. Scratch that, I’m totally greedy. My dad was just trying to keep that greed in check, and who can blame him, really?
So that’s probably why I worked at a bookstore in high school: the discounts made it easier for my book greed to thrive. Another perk – I was surrounded by people with amazing taste in books. Some of the best books I’ve ever read were recommended to me by coworkers, including the series I’m telling you about today.
When Shadow of the Wind hit our little Chapters, I think it had accumulated four different Staff Picks stickers by the end of the month. And I did not work with people who like mediocre books, they have impeccable taste. Remember the book preview that I stumbled onto? She introduced The Night Circus by saying “this is the best book I’ve read since Shadow of the Wind” which made all us book-o-philes gasp and sprint for the nearest display.
The books are written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and translated from Spanish. There is a preface in the third book which informs the reader that although some characters and locations are woven into all three books, they needn’t be read in order. This was a wash of relief for me when I began The Prisoner of Heaven, because it had been so long since I’d read books 1 or 2. I’m now planning on starting the series again from the beginning!
You can tell while you’re reading them that they’re books created for people who are passionate about books. They’re almost like nods to the folks who love whiling away hours in bookstores, libraries and armchairs, reading reading reading. There is not only a prominent (magical, wonderful, amazing) library in each book, but also a beautiful, quaint bookstore, characters who love to read, and characters who love to write. It’s almost like the author is extending a warm hug to any kindred spirits of his.
The books are all different, but they all revolve around books and writing, they all have some dark (“gothic” as the book flaps tend to say) themes, and they’re all quite excellent. They come highly recommended by me and (going out on a limb here) the entire fiction department at my old store. And the Random House book representative. And if that’s not enough recommendation for you, then I’m sorry, I tried.
I hope you give them a try and truly enjoy! I’ve collected my copies one by one over the years, all gifts from my Dad. What can I say? He owes me.