Book #18 was another one by Anita Shreve, A Wedding in December. There's too much going on in this book, which is about a wedding (yes, in December) of high school sweethearts who have married other people in between and are now getting together twenty-seven years after graduation. The wedding guests are mostly friends from their high school class, so that the wedding is also a reunion. It is December 2001, so there is much discussion of 9/11. Bridget, the bride, has advanced cancer. Right before graduation there was a tragedy and Stephen, the roommate of Harrison, was killed; there's unfinished business there. Nora, who was Stephen's girlfriend, married a famous poet, and he recently died. Agnes, who has never married, has a secret she's been keeping, and she's also researching a disaster that took place in Halifax, Canada, in 1917. The point is that tragedy can change everything, and that's not necessarily something of which I need reminding. However, it is endlessly fascinating to think about those choices you didn't make, the "non-stories," as one character calls them. How would life have been different if you hadn't met that person, or gone to that party, or had that conversation? All the characters face these questions in the course of the novel, and since they are compelling characters, you care about the answers. If they could change things, would they? And would the reward be worth the pain they would cause?
Book #19 was a read-aloud to my son. I usually don't count the books I read to my children in my yearly total, but I decided to count this one because, well, it's my blog. The book was How To Train Your Dragon: Book 1, by Cressida Cowell. My son (aged 7) and I both thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is completely different from the movie, which we also enjoyed. In the book, there is no dragon-killing; every Viking trains a dragon for use as a hunting animal. A book of instructions for doing this exists, though few people can read (it's really a shame to admit that you can), but it contains very little useful information. Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is the son of the chief, Stoick the Vast, and is expected to be a Viking Hero, but he isn't doing very well at it. This story tells how he gets his dragon and how they begin their adventures together. It is highly entertaining and suspenseful and includes plenty of the type of gross-out humor popular with boys my son's age. And there are six books in the series! Hooray!
This post is linked to the May 15th Saturday Review of Books.
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