Reading Matters

Five books I wish I had time to read

If I were on a slow train to the Canadian Rockies, I would pack the following books:

1. “A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW”, by Amor Towles, author of the bestselling novel, “Rules of Civility.” A friend just finished this one and says it’s wonderful. This novel submerges us in the story of Count Alexander Rostov who, at age 30, is sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel across from the Kremlin.

2. “PURE HEART: A SPIRITED TALE OF GRACE, GRIT AND WHISKEY,” by Troy Ball. When the real estate bubble burst in Asheville, transplanted Texan Troy Ball saved her family from financial ruin by becoming the most successful woman in the legal whiskey business.

3. “THE SCHOOLDAYS OF JESUS,” by J. M. Coetzee, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2003. And what a title! Here’s what the Washington Post said: “A book of profound and painful humanity, preoccupied with some of the most essential questions about what it means to be a parent and what hapens when noble principles are confronted with the grubby details of everyday life.”

4. “FALSTAFF: GIVE ME LIFE,” by Yale University critic Harold Bloom, who is now 86 and who has been in love with Shakespeare’s Falstaff since he was a 12-year-old boy. He calls him the greatest wit in Shakespeare. This is the first in a series of books by Bloom about Shakespeare’s characters. Falstaff due in April.

5. “THE DOOR THAT ALWAYS OPENS,” A full-length debut collection of poems by Julie Funderburk, who teaches writing at Queens University at Charlotte. Funderburk focuses on houses in these poems I look forward to reading more closely: “houses under construction or demolition, inhabited, abandoned and vandalized.”

Dannye: dpowell@charlotteobserver.com

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