Several months ago I reviewed a couple books that I loved so much I couldn’t wait until the end of the year to talk about them. You can read what I have to say about The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin in the reviews I wrote earlier this year. I read them back in February and they brought new perspective when remembering the role my Uncle Lonney played in my own family history. These two books continue to be among my favorite reads of 2016.
I always hesitate to write reviews. When I find books that I love, I feel like I can never say enough to really encompass the many things that make them great. Writing is complex and incredibly difficult and even with the books that I don’t enjoy all that much, I usually put the book down thinking that, even if not my favorite, the author still did better than I could have done myself.
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I read Kindle books almost exclusively these days. It’s not that I prefer e-books. Actually, I would much rather have a paper book in my hand—feel the breadth of pages thin on the right as I spend more time pouring over the words. I’d rather read with a pencil in my hand to underline and write in the margins. (Yes, as sacrilegious as some might think it, I underline and write notes in my paper books.) But since most of the reading I do these days is on the go or in the dark (laying down with my kids while they fall asleep), reading Kindle books is the means by which I can continue reading at this busy stage in my life.
Most of the books I read, even those I enjoy, I finish and then forgot as I become engrossed in the another book. The next story immerses me in a different world, and the characters of the previous one become a blur, the plot points jumbled until the scenes no longer fit into a neat storyline. As much as I enjoy a book the first time around, I don’t usually feel a need to pick it up again. Reading most stories a second time wouldn’t mimic the same initial joy; it’s not worthwhile to bother with it again.
Every so often, though, there is book that hits me. It haunts me. And I can’t get it out of my head. Every once in a while, I find a book that is special enough that I need to also get the paper copy because I know I will read it again and again until the pages are frayed and the text is a mess of underlining and pencil notes in the white spaces. Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried is one of those.