Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#3: Origin (Dan Brown)

Where did we come from? What is our purpose? Where are we going? These questions have filled human thought for centuries and now become the inspiration for Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin. Robert Langdon returns as the hero of this fast-paced, intriguing page turner that you certainly do not want to miss.

A young scientist who is also a well-known Atheist claims to have discovered new information about the origin of life on Earth. As he prepares to make his announcement to the world, he is mysteriously assassinated in front of the luminaries gathered in the modernist museum as well as millions of people around the world. Was he killed by the Church in an effort to silence the news that would potentially shake the foundation of the world’s faith communities? Or was the murder ordered by the royal family of Spain? The story takes the reader through the beautiful, lush scenery of Spain while examining spectacular masterpieces from the visual arts and the world of science. With the addition of Winston, the scientist’s stunning AI assistant, Origin introduces a new type of character that is rarely encountered in popular literature — and results in a most satisfying reading experience. I found myself connecting with Winston’s computer-generated voice just as I did the human characters created by Brown. The novel really is one of the author’s best-crafted novels.

Don’t pick up a copy of Origin until you have some free time on your hands. You won’t be able to put it down until you reach the book’s final page!

1 Comment »

#2: Moscow Nights (Nigel Cliff)

I have been slothful in putting my thoughts about this wonderful book in writing although I finished it over a week ago. A finalist of the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, Moscow Nights: The Van Cliburn Story provides an insightful look at the man, the music, and the politics that surrounded the first Tchaikovsky Competition in 1958. Van Cliburn took the world by storm with his Romantic repertoire and Texas charm. He was an overnight sensation, causing an uproar among Russian youth similar to that of Elvis or the Beatles in our country. Moscow Nights follows Cliburn from his Texas roots to his studies at Juilliard and the monumental Tchaikovsky competition before exploring the aftermath of the pianist’s unexpected victory and the notoriety that followed.

Nigel Cliff does an exceptional job of blending biography with political history (of both the US and the USSR) and the music performed. Cliff’s descriptions of Van Cliburn’s performances are mesmerizing and allows the reader to feel as though he is hearing the music first hand. American-Soviet relations are presented in a clear, understandable manner as they influenced the events unfolding on the Russian Conservatory stage. 

Where many biographies tend to portray the individual as a hero, Cliff presents Van as an everyday man with exceptional talent, lots of self-doubt, and noticeable flaws. As I closed the book, I felt as though I knew more about Cliburn and the world in which he lived. In my opinion, that is one of the greatest compliments that can be paid any biography.

Leave a comment »