Friday, December 16, 2011

Reading High: Queen's Play

Someone may have noticed the quiet around here.  That's because I'm frantically pawing through books trying to figure out a path to finishing all my challenges before the end of the year.  I really want to finish the Cybils finalist list, but the super-depressing YA offerings really slowed me down.  I'm now on the last one, so I'm comfortable reading about 50 pages a day through the weekend, and then I'll write up a final post of all the last-minute books plus the ones I skipped reviewing somehow.

Meanwhile I've loaded my NOOK with books to finish off the Alphabet challenge, which means I can flail about to see if I can find things for the geography puzzles.  Of course, just because I'm in list crisis mode doesn't mean I stop Reading My Library or poking at my TBR list.  Oh, and a bunch of library books are coming due as well.  And I hear some holiday or other is coming up, or so the kids tell me.  I think I'm supposed to be doing something, rhymes with hopping.  Stopping?  Flopping? It'll come to me.

Anyway, I managed to finish a book!  And here's a review!

Queens' PlayWhen I volunteer in the elementary school library, I hear a lot about choosing books at the correct level. The idea is to pick books that you can comfortably read, not too easy and not too hard.  Although I'm certainly willing to help kids find books in this magic range, I don't actually subscribe to the philosophy.  I think that interest and enjoyment are the main reasons to pick a book -- I certainly don't turn down a book just because it is "too easy" for me.  Hey, I still like picture books and I've really enjoyed some of the Easy Reader choices from the Cybils challenge and my kids and I rarely drop a series just because they've grown past it -- when is Cynthia Rylant going to write another Mr Putter book anyway? (I just checked -- I'm missing the latest one.  Humph.)

Of course, with all my sophistication and wit, not to mention my lazy habits, I rarely find myself reading a book that would count as "too hard."  But Dorothy Dunnett can really put me in my place.  I just finished the second book in her Lymond series, Queen's Play, and it took me several tries to get into it and I found myself trying the dictionary on my NOOK (uselessly; we seem to share the same vocabulary) or typing phrases into babelfish to try to understand the French or Latin quotes the characters toss about.  Actually, this book had more in-line translations than the first, and less German and Spanish.  But after only eighty pages or so I was having far to much fun to stop, even when I had to pause to try to figure out what the text was hinting at.  It's not just the language that's tough -- the author also expects the reader to stay on her toes and notice connections and intrigue and subtext and whatnot.  A really delicious journey, but not for the lazy-minded.  I'm very glad that my need for a "Q" title nudged me into trying this book a second time.  Although choosing 500 pages books for the frantic end-time does raise questions about that wit I claimed at the top of this paragraph.

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