My first two books of 2019 were:
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Both had been recommended by various bloggers, including Chris and Emily from The Book Cougars, in the case of the first, and Michelle from That’s What She Read, in the case of the second. However, I was reluctant to read them, because:
- with The Library Book, I thought it was all a true crime book and I really didn’t want to read a true crime book as I prefer my crime fictional.
- with The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle, I thought it had too many narrators.
But I learned that there was more to The Library Book than true crime (a lot more) and that The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle really has one narrator, who inhabits eight different bodies to solve a murder. And two patrons at the library where I work recommended each book, and while I don’t always listen to patrons’ recommendations, I did these two times and I wasn’t disappointed that I did.
The Library Book ostensibly is about a fire at the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library on April 29, 1986 that destroyed 400,000 volumes and damaged another 700,000 with water and smoke, but it is more than about just that. It is about the history of the L.A. Public Library System and a treatise on the importance of libraries in every age.
Likewise, The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle ostensibly is a classic whodunit in the style of Agatha Christie with a dash of Downton Abbey tossed in, but it is more than just that. It is also a mix of Quantum Leap (as the author himself describes in his Q & A at the end of the book) and Groundhog Day (as another author describes in a blurb on the back of the book), as the main character sees the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle through eight different characters, witnesses, and possible suspects over eight days.
I highly recommend both as Orlean, the author of several books, and Tarton, his first, are both brilliant writers. Their two books no doubt will be among my favorite books read this year, which on one hand is good, to start the reading year so fortuitously, but on the other hand is bad, because now all other books might seem a disappointment in contrast. Or it might be like any other year, a mixed bag.
Have you read either book? What did you think? If not, what was your first book of the year and was it a good one or a bad one?