Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sometimes It Just Feels Right

Have you ever run across a book, one that you had not known even existed, but knew from the instant you picked it up that you had to read it, and read it soon? I don't know quite how to explain that feeling, but I am willing to bet that many of you know exactly what I'm trying to describe. Sometimes it just feels right.

It happened to me at the library this evening as I was walking toward the scanner to make my selections legal. There is always a shelf or two of "New Fiction" within a few feet of the scanners and I usually make a pass through the books to see what is available. This time I spotted a debut novel by Zoe Ferraris called Finding Nouf and I had to pick it up because the "Nouf" part of its title rang some kind of bell, a memory of all the years I spent working in the Sahara Desert among mostly Arab Muslims of similar-sounding names, I suppose.

A quick look at the premise of the book (young Saudi girl drowns in the desert and only a friend of the family seems skeptical about the cornoner's official verdict that her death was accidental) and I was hooked. I've read the first four chapters now and, so far, it is everything I hoped it would be. It is an inside look into a culture few Westerners ever get close to, written by a woman who married into it and lived in it before divorce brought her back to the United States.

My only fear at this point, and it has happened to me several times, is that the book will start to lose its magic appeal somewhere around the halfway point (an authoritative one-star review on the Amazon.com site has me particularly concerned), leaving me disappointed that it turned out to be less than it could have been. But that's part of the great Book Chase we are on, isn't it? This is the kind of experience that keeps me enthusiastically turning pages.

8 comments:

  1. I hope the book continues to be good. But, yes, I've had books like that. Deerskin by Robin McKinley jumped off the library cart at me when I was in high school, and it's perhaps my favorite book. When I was in college working at the campus bookstore, Iona Moon by Melanie Rae Thon, a book I was surprised to enjoy, beckoned to me from its place on the shelf until I finally relented and bought it. I love how it can work like that. (But I've had my bad experiences with that feeling, too. We won't go into those rants here.)

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  2. It sounds intriguing. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say once you've finished...

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  3. Snap! I've just blogged about this book, here in the UK it has a different title
    'The Night of the Mi'raj'.
    I look forward to hearing what you thought of the book.

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  4. Oh wow, I didn't realize that the book has 2 titles. Finding Nouf made me think of Finding Nemo; isn't that terrible?

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  5. Jena, it sounds as if that "feeling" has been more accurate than not for you...same with me. I've had the reverse feeling, too, with some books just repulsing me with negative vibes to the point that I feel a compulsion to turn them face down on the display...strange, I know.

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  6. Jen, so far, so good. The book received at least two extremely critical reviews on Amazon and I was a little worried after reading them. The reviews question the book's accuracy in representing the culture and the country, but I see nothing serious enough to take away from my enjoyment of the book so far.

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  7. Herschelian, I'll take a look at that review, thanks. I may wait until finishing it up myself because I kind of regret the two reviews of the book that I've already read...put some negative ideas in my head that I can't completely shake when I pick up the book.

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  8. I wonder which title will be on the shelves of your favorite Korean bookstore, bybee? Your reaction to the American title was the same as mine...grandkids will do that to you.

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