Sunday, January 7, 2007

Books

There are a lot of authors out there like these: what you'd call "pop" writers. They produce a lot of books, in some cases several per year, all of them following the same format. They've found a winning format and just repeat it again and again. Usually I tend to avoid authors like this: if they've written 8 books a year they can't all be good.
Still, if they're popular they must have been good once, right? So here they are: good books by very prolific writers.

The rating system is based on how challenging the book is to read, not how good it is. All books at Hansisgreat are highly recommended.

* <-----------> ** <-----------> *** <-----------> **** <----------> *****
Easy - - Pretty Easy - - Moderate - - Pretty Challenging - - Challenging

The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0804106304
** (pretty easy)
The story of Asian women living in the US, and about the relationship between mothers and daughters. This book will mostly appeal to women, but I enjoyed it. Half of it takes place when the daughters are little girls, the other half when they're grown-ups. Asians are notoriously strict with their daughters (I'm not being controversial in saying that, am I?). Some of them appreciated it: one of the girls becomes a world-class chess champion. Sensitive and touching, with a dark shadow cast over it and a delicious oriental flavor. This book was a bestseller for over a year, and would make a great choice for a women's reading group. Try sharing it with your mom!
The Testament, by John Grisham
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0440234743
** (pretty easy)
Grisham is famous for fast-paced legal dramas. Several have been made into major motion pictures.I usually find his work diverting and enjoyable. This one involves a fortune being left to a nun living in poverty in the jungles of South America. The lawyer who delivers the money to her is an alcoholic and a failure. His trip becomes urgent as the deceased's children try to overturn the will. A village in the Brazilian rain forest made a terrific setting for a court-room novel, giving it some adventure and excitement it might otherwise have lacked. The characters, especially the heiress-nun, were lovable and believable. Fans of Law & Order are especially encouraged to pick this one up.
Cry to Heaven, by Anne Rice
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0345396936
**** (pretty challenging)
Violence and intrigue rip through this historical novel set in Renaissance Italy. Anne Rice is famous for Interview With The Vampire and other Vampire novels. No one gets their blood sucked here: they get castrated. Many of the characters in this weird and enticing novel are castrati, boys whose testicles are cut off to preserve their singing voices. Some of them are understandably bitter, and spend the book plotting their brutal revenge. Most of us heard about this sort of thing in 8th grade health class. This one is a little long, but Rice is a vivid descriptive writer, so this is forgivable. The story is rich and elaborate, with an unforgettable setting.
Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
$7.99 at Bn.com ISBN: 0345370775
** (pretty easy)
Surely you're aware of the movie. Would you believe me if I told you that the book is even better? Without CGI dinosaurs? Crichton builds suspense beautifully. In case you don't know: the setting for this book is an amusement park where genetically cloned dinosaurs run amok. If you've seen the movie and haven't read for a while, why not give this a try? From the first page it's exciting, as the characters travel to the island not knowing what awaits them. Things gradually spin out of control as people get their guts ripped out by velociraptors. Getting chased around a high-tech complex by giant lizards is bound to be entertaining, right? I'm always amazed at what a consistently good writer Crichton is, and the familiar storyline should help keep you focused.

No comments: