There never seems to be enough time to read but when I do get around to it, I'm generally drawn to somewhat dark and sad novels which contain elements of human tragedy. The best thing a book can do for me is move me to tears. If words read, not spoken, can elevate me to such a physiological and emotional level that my eyes well up, then I have been touched profoundly and forever; to me, that's what reading is all about. Over the years, the following books have changed me and my perception of life and the human spirit by a few degrees and they have all made me cry:
Another Country and Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
The Reader by Berhard Schlink
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
The Professor and the Madman by by Simon Winchester
However, on a recent trip to China to visit some of the printers we work with, I decided to bring along the ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of Feiwel and Friends' The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins. It was the first "teen novel" I'd read since I was teen myself. I was hooked immediately and read it for a good portion of the sixteen-hour plane ride. It's a brilliantly told story of a boy who leaves his home in an effort to escape a truly brutal past. Along his journey he meets a quirky cast of characters who like himself, have a lot of secrets. I wish I could say more about it but I don't want to give away the whole story. Thoroughly jet-lagged, I finished the book that night at the hotel in Hong Kong. Having been up for well over 24 hours by the time I read the last few words, I don't recall exactly what happened, but I believe I may have shed a tear or two for Ludlow Fitch. Oh, and the final book is going to look awesome - great case design with lots of spot gloss and embossing, and the edges of the pages will be stained black.