I have just finished the second of two books I read this week. They have some common points, but yet they are so far from each other.
People of the Book and Dewey are both about people who love books, they both have a central narrator along with several other characters surrounding that narrator, and they both have a thread that moves forward while at the same time moving back in time to tell other stories. The authors of both books are skilled and passionate about their stories.
People of the Book is a fictional account of the making and preserving of the Sarajevo Haggadah. The narrator, a conservator of ancient manuscripts, is called to work on this precious prayer book commonly used at the Jewish Seder. As she searches for clues about the book's past, the author recounts stories of each stage of the haggadah's journey from its beginnings in Spain in the 1400's to its current display case in the museum in war-torn Bosnia.
Dewey is about a library cat in Spencer, IA, and the librarians who rescued him from the book drop on a very wintry morning in January in 1988. This tiny golden kitten readily adopts his new surroundings and wins the hearts of everyone who meets him.
Are both books redemption stories? Dewey Readmore Books (his official name) certainly gives his life day-by-day to redeem Spencer at a time when it was facing economic collapse. People of the Book is a chronicle of God's chosen people, which is always a story of redemption, but that is an underlying theme of this particular story. Neither book is a "history" book, but a telling of the stories of the people in those times and places.
Both books are great reads, but really at opposite ends of the spectrum of "types" of books. People of the Book is a very serious work--rather dark and intense, but yet intriguing and powerful. The author, Geraldine Brooks, is a masterful storyteller, already proven by her Pulitzer Prize for her book March. Dewey is a light-hearted account of a darling cat growing up in a library in small-town America. The author, Vicki Myron, is a librarian surrounded daily by books, but she's never written a book before and I doubt she'll write another. People is for mature readers (rated somewhere between PG-13 and R), but Dewey is for anyone who loves cats or libraries or the Midwest (totally G-rated). One book wrenches the heart; the other warms it.
It's good to read a variety of books--that's what I was about this week. It's doubly good when a book-lover is blessed with books about books!
Have a good day!