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Before vs After Reading a Book

Sometimes we go into a book with preconceived ideas about what it’s going to be like. It can be because we’re familiar with that author, read the reviews or had a friend recommend it. So I thought I’d do a little post on my ideas on what I though the book would be before I opened it up to the first page compared to once I'd finished it.

Crossing the Lines by Sulari Gentill

I saw Sulari Gentill's name and since I have loved everything else she's written I figured I'd give it a go. It was completely different from anything else she had written previously and I was enthralled from the very first pages. It's a difficult concept to explain without giving anything away but suffice to say, I was surprised with how well I could keep track of what should have been a convoluted storyline. A blend of serious literature with crime drama, I kept asking myself how on earth she could end this satisfactorily. I'm not sure she did – I think I'm going to have to read it again.

Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

I came into this book not sure what to expect. I loved The Historian, but wasn't enthralled by The Swan Thieves. Picking it up purely on the idea that I would be asked about it, I decided to read it. An American tourist in Bulgaria on a mission was something a bit different, but it had a similar blend to The Historian in the modern mystery with historical importance. Not quite as thriller-esque as previous books, it took a while to immerse yourself in the world but once you were there the pay off was worth it.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

Every man, woman and their dog have been telling me to read this book since I took over at Dog Eared Books. Most copies I have sold were gifts to give to people from people who described it as a 'life-changing book'. Even people who didn't like reading raved about Coehlo's central work. But for me, even at the tender age of 33, I felt I was about 15 years too old to truly appreciate this book. I will however be giving copies as gifts to any 16 – 18 year old I know as I do think if you read it at the right age and time in your life, it will change your perception on the world and your own inner world as well.

Inspector Singh Investigates – A Deadly Cambodian Crime Spree by Shamini Flint

Too many regulars have read a book in this series and come in asking for everything else for me to put off reading one of these any longer. So having read a lot of crime authors recently I was interested to see if Flint could do anything new in the genre.... and she really did! It was at times humourous, stunning in its historically accurate brutality with an engaging main character tying you to everything throughout. I will also be searching out the others in this series to read.

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I once had someone so inspired by this book that they bought all three different editions I had, just to compare what had changed over the updated editions. A discussion of how people relate and recognize love, it talks about the five main 'languages' people use to show their love for other people and how if you don't show someone in a way they can understand, relationships can founder and break up. It was very interesting and certain points resonated with me. But the innane sexism throughout the book kept putting me off, as all women were housewives and all men good salary men who came home at 6pm every day. If you can sift through the blinkered look at modern life, there are certainly ideas to make you think and possibly even change your life.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

This has been requested many times at Dog Eared Books but I had never seen a copy. So when I managed to get my hands on one unexpectedly, I wanted to read it first before putting it into stock to see what it was all about. I was anticipating a story of a young autistic boy told through the eyes of all those who love and cherish him. What I didn't expect was to hear through his own words what it is to be autistic in a modern world. Beautifully translated from the original Japanese by one of my favourite authors, David Mitchell, you can hear Naoki's voice clearly as he answers all those questions you always wanted to ask about what it is to be autistic.

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