If you get a reputation as a “reader,” it won’t be long before folks you know start asking you about books. “Read any good books lately?” “What are you reading now?” “I need a good book recommendation – what do you suggest?”
You’ll hear that even more often if you happen to be a librarian or work in a library. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that, I’d have more money than you.
People like all sorts of books. As discussed earlier, the most popular books in libraries usually fall into the genre fiction areas. (Mysteries, thrillers, romances, etc.) When asked the question about a good book to recommend, I could ask “What types of books do you usually enjoy?” If the questioner was someone like my friend Stephen, and I knew he liked history, I could say, “Have you read 1491?”
If it was someone like Chris, I might say, “Try Ghostman – it’s a quirky, well-written thriller.”
But I do have a “go-to” title, that so far has been remarkably well-received by almost everyone I’ve ever recommended it to. Like mysteries? Like romance? Like history? Like books that have a story within a story? Or for my library colleagues, “Do you like stories featuring libraries?”
There are some other things to like about this book. The first thing is that it was originally written in Spanish. Not too many people (besides Westley Roberts) have known many Spaniards, but Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one worth getting to know. Besides the author, the translator is also outstanding, and her work on translating this title to English is amazing. Her name is Lucia Graves, and she is the daughter of Robert Graves.
This book, written in 2001 and translated to English in 2004, is a worldwide international bestseller titled The shadow of the wind. At the heart of this story is the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. A young boy named Daniel Sempere, whose mother has died, is taken there by his bookshop owner father shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War, but pre-WWII. The Cemetery is a huge library of old and forgotten titles. A few secret librarians guard the library. Traditionally, anyone once admitted is allowed to choose one book, which can be taken from the Cemetery, but which must then become the responsibility of the initiate and guarded for their lifetime. Daniel chooses a book by Julian Carax called The Shadow of the Wind, and becomes its guardian.
Daniel becomes enraptured reading the book, and soon sets out to find other works by Carax. He tries to find out all he can about the author. In his investigations, he unleashes the dark forces that have tried to bury Julian and destroy his works, including every copy of The Shadow of the Wind.
This book is full of fascinating characters and a lot of history as well. The writing is exceptional, and the descriptions make the story come alive in your mind. The story captures the sweetness of youth and adventure, as well as the darkness humanity is capable of. Some characters are models of loyalty and integrity, while others are monstrous and implacable.
So with some trepidation but also some confidence, I recommend The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Let me know what you think!
P.S. – if you like the book, the author has written two others in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle.