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Spending time with a few hundred close friends, my books

By From page B1 | January 11, 2013

I spent the past five months at home waiting for shoulder surgery and then recovering from it.

Do you know how many books you can read in that time? Quite a few, as it turns out.

With no interruptions, pain didn’t allow me to do much other than be a couch potato. My choices were daytime television or reading. For a couple of days, the daytime television watching was . . . well . . . interesting, to say the least. I learned that there is a TV doctor for everything that ails you – mentally or physically. I also learned, after watching foul-mouthed guests toss furniture around on “The Jerry Springer Show,” that my life just wasn’t so bad after all – broken body parts included.

But, alas, that daytime novelty wore off, so I turned back to my trusted friends: My 9,000 unread books (only a slight exaggeration) scattered throughout my house. Many of them compliments of a popular book-swapping website.

I’ve been a member of Paperbackswap.com since 2007 – and I can’t recommend it enough. My book conversations invariably come around to this website that has copiously enabled my book addiction. My daughter and I joined because, not only did it sound like fun, it seemed like another great place to get rid of books that were already read and taking up space in my small house. I already donate regularly to Friends of the Library and Goodwill. I had enough book credits at local used bookstores to ensure I never had to pay full price for a book.

Time to branch out. But there is a hook – for those of us with no willpower concerning books. I ended up ordering more books than I was sending out. For each book I send out, I earn a credit, which I can use to order a book from another member of the website. Many members offer book deals – three books for one credit, for example – so it is possible to end up bringing in more books than sending out.

I proudly stand, waving my hand. I’m in that category. So, you know, with nothing to do in the last five months but read those nine million books ordered from Paperbackswap.com, I think, finally, I’ve put a dent in my stash.

I read everything, from mystery to paranormal to romance and even the occasional, ahem, erotic romance. I’ll admit, I don’t understand the appeal, but as a book lover, I’m very free in my thinking, so I’ll try anything once. Never got to “Fifty Shades of Grey,” though it is sitting on my shelf. All three in the series are – I found them for $1 each at a Friends of the Library bookstore in Sacramento.

A few that I read I think are worth mentioning.

The Lost Wife,” by Alyson Richman. ($15, Berkeley Trade) It embodies the pull of first-time love in war-torn Europe. A young Jewish couple from Prague marry, only to be immediately separated by a war and a continent. They each think the other is dead and move on to other lives, only to run into each decades later in New York.

The Litigators,” by John Grisham. ($9.99, Dell) Two bumbling, bickering lawyers – rather, ambulance chasers – and a stressed-out newbie attorney get tossed into the world of court litigation. They’re totally out of their league with a class-action drug case. It’s a departure from the norm for Grisham in that the book is still lawyer-based but the characters are infused with humor. The book started out slow and I nearly put it down around page 100, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

Gone Girl,” by Gillian Flynn ($25, Crown) An incredible page-turner. This psychological thriller kept me guessing as to whether the wife was dead and whether the husband did it. I also couldn’t help but wonder about their sick, co-dependent relationship. The story is told through diary entries left by the missing wife and the current life of the husband as he goes through media, police and public scrutiny as the search mounts for his wife. I was disappointed in the ending. It seemed like Flynn wrapped it up too quickly, but it works.

Hounded,” by Kevin Hearne. ($7.99, Del Rey). This is the first in the series about a 2,000-year-old Druid who lives in modern-day Tempe, Ariz. Atticus O’Sullivan is a rare book salesman and herb peddler. And, of course, being fantasy-paranormal, he fights the bad guys. There is probably nothing really cute about anything 2,000 years old, but this story is cute and a lot of fun. Atticus has an Irish wolfhound named Oberon who steals the show.

All the books I mentioned will appeal to both men and women. “The Lost Wife,” probably more to women but it has aspects that will appeal to both genders.

Happy reading.

Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.

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