Too many books, not enough time …

I am not complaining; there’s really no such thing as too many books, unless you’re in college and had to take out a loan to pay for a semester’s worth of overpriced textbooks.

I started out 2006 with a stack of new books, all of which I was anxious to read. I say “was,” because I’ve finished two of them. For several years, I read very few novels. For the last couple of years, I have been restless without at least one good novel lying around that I can get buried in. I admit that I have, on occasion, resorted to re-reading books, especially those by James Blaylock and Dean Koontz. I’m re-reading Life Expectancy now, because it was handy. I’ll probably put it aside and pick it up again whenever I need to fill in some time.

When you’re a internationally known book reviewer like I am, people send you books, for free. It’s a very cool thing. I am, by the way, known by at least 2 people internationally, so my claim is accurate. And, I sometimes get e-mails from people who appreciate my reviews, so I guess I could say that I am an internationally respected book reviewer; but, I won’t go that far.

Before the holidays I received an advance copy (catch that? – advance copy) of Brian McLaren’s soon-to-be-published new bestseller, The Secret Message of Jesus. I’m just a couple of chapters into it, but I have to say that so far, I am not terribly impressed. But, if you’ve read my entries on John Eldredge (see the categories on the sidebar), you know that my first impressions are not always correct. It seems that McLaren has been reading NT Wright, but I’m not sure he’s drawing great conclusions. I’ll let you know after I’m done with it.

Speaking of NT Wright (how’s that for a great segue?), shortly before the holidays I received an e-mail from Barnes & Nobel inviting me to buy NT Wright’s just released The Last Word (when you’re an internationally known book reviewer, sometimes Barnes & Nobel will send you personalized e-mails about books you might like to buy). The Last Word is about how both conservative and liberal theologians misread the Bible, a topic near to my heart, so I am quite anxious to read that.

The other book I read this month was Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which is an extremely enjoyable book. It’s not one of those books that grips you and compels you to speed read it, it’s just one of those rare books – like Lord of the Rings, or something by Dickens – that you just enjoy, page by page.

So, books, books, and more books. Never too many, but certainly not enough time.

First Impressions

Koontz Cover

My all-time favorite author has to be James Blaylock. However, as he hasn’t written a new novel in years, I had to find someone to fill the void, and so stumbled upon Dean Koontz. Although his work is somewhat inconsistent, and I don’t think any of his books would be in the running for “Great American Novel,” there are a few of his novels that have to rank among my list of favorites.

Having just finished one of Koontz’ earlier novels on a flight home from Chicago, with a few days of well-earned vacation ahead of me, I needed to find something new to read. So, I stopped at a Barnes & Noble and grabbed By the Light of the Moon, which, although first published in 2002, I hadn’t yet read. I think I am going to enjoy this one, if the first line is any indication.

I really appreciate good first lines. I have come up with several of my own – the problem is developing the rest of the story to go with it. My favorite original line is, “For once there was no rain in the city.” (I don’t really care if you agree, so don’t bother writing with your comments.)

The first line of this book is probably one of the best I have read, right up there with “Call me Ishmael,” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…,” and “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

Without any further ado, here it is:

“Shortly before being knocked unconscious and bound to a chair, before being injected with an unknown substance against his will, and before discovering that the world was deeply mysterious in ways he’d never before imagined, Dylan O’Connor left his motel room and walked across the highway to a brightly lighted fast-food franchise to buy cheeseburgers, French fries, pocket pies with apple filing, and a vanilla milkshake.”

Okay, it doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily as “Call me Ishmael,” but personally, I love it. It’s all I needed to read to decide that this was the next novel to which I was willing to devote time.

So, why am I sitting here writing instead of reading? I have no clue….