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Your twitter feed and Facebook news feed are individual to you, I know, but if they're anything like mine you're often asked for book recommendations. "What's your favourite classic?" "What's your favourite book written this century?" That kind of thing.
People who know me, know that for most of my life, almost any book was the best gift you could get me. That's still true today. I love pretty much all books. But if I'm asked for an all time favourite, after a few seconds of hemming and hawing, the answer will almost always be, The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
First off, in spite of the fact that it is the best selling Spanish novel after Cervantes' Don Quixote, most English readers don't seem to have heard of it, so I get to introduce it to them (You're welcome). And secondly, it's just a remarkable novel that creates the character of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. You'll have to read the book to understand why this place is actually a character in this novel, and why it's such a compelling idea.
I'm going to be careful and not tell you anything about this book beyond that. Well, that and the fact that Zafon died a bit less than two years ago, and in spite of that, whenever I go into any book store, I walk to the "Z" section in fiction to see if they've got anything by him. I've bought at least ten copies of Shadow in used book stores, against the time someone visits and asks me to recommend a book. I have three right now on my shelves.
Today I went to Chapters Lakeshore, to drop off copies of my book to them, and instead of walking to the shelves, I went to one of their computer stations and typed in Zafon's name. Of course, Shadow was there, along with several other books, all of which I've read, but imagine my surprise when I saw The City of Mist. A book I'd never even heard of and the computer said there was a copy in that very store!
As I write this, I know no more about this book than this: It's a collection of short stories, it's by Zafon, and it was published after his death.
For the last week or so, I've been telling my Facebook friends and twitter followers that if they felt they needed a good book to read over the March Break, they could pick up Dave Garlick's The Principal Chronicles. And that is still true. But I've read that one. And I've read it more than twenty or thirty times over the last year or so. If you haven't read it, it's a good little book, a worthy 'in the cottage by the fireplace' read. Or 'by the beach' read. March Break was always a time for me to catch up on fun reading, no matter if I went away or stayed home. I think The Principal Chronicles, or TPC as my wife's taken to calling it, is excellent for that.
But this March Break, even though I no longer have to, or get to take a break from school, I get to curl up with The City of Mist.
I'll make you a deal. If you tell me, after this March Break, what you thought of TPC, I'll tell you what I thought of The City of Mist.
Have a nice March Break everyone!