Local lifestyle columnists

Rediscovering those dust-covered books bought years ago

By From page B1 | January 31, 2014

I have a tendency to swap books or pick up books at bookstores (used or new, online or brick-and-mortar) that are newly published. I am a total book snob in that way – only the newest, hot from the publisher’s little hands.

Then one of two things happens: I read them fairly quickly or, if I’ve bought/swapped too many books lately, they sit on my bookshelf and become those “old” books that sit and sit.

Recently, I’ve been involved in a reading challenge that gives points not only for the number of books read but how old the book is. So I started scouring my bookshelves and was amazed that I have books that I bought new going back to 2000. Yes, you read that right. Books bought brand new 14 years ago are still sitting on my shelf. They went through my move back to California from Utah eight years ago and my more recent move to another city.

To put it more into perspective, I bought some of those books when my daughter was 13 and she’s 27 now. I began to have sympathy for my children and understand what they were complaining about when they carried yet another box of “must-keep” books into or out of the house.

I’m also going to admit that there were more than one, two or three of these books that became perpetual shelf-sitters. Maybe one, two or three boxes of these books would be more accurate – at least that’s probably what they would equate to if I pulled them off my shelves and packed them away.

I’m pleased to say just through that book tour, I am no longer a must-have-the-new-book person. I’ve been quite content actually reading what’s on my shelf. I have been carrying around the same gift cards to book places for a couple of months now – saving for a rainy day. Normally, those gift cards would have been gone in a puff of smoke – and the new “must-have” book possibly devoured but more than likely set on my shelf so it would turn into an “old” book.

I’ve vowed not to buy or obtain from swaps any 2013 or 2014 books. Now, to be fair, I haven’t decided if e-books count or not. I haven’t bought any, but I’m leaving the door open for this decision. I’m cheating, I know.

So in this process I discovered both a “new” cozy mystery series and went back and learned some things about my old friend, Alex Cross – a James Patterson nemesis – by reading some older books in the Cross series. Normally, I’m a stickler for reading things in order, but for some reason I’ve read the Cross books haphazardly so that I’ve never really known what happened to Alex Cross’s wife. For the Patterson uninitiated, Alex Cross is a psychologist who was also a Washington, D.C., police officer and he’s worked with the FBI.

From my bookshelves I picked up “Cross,” which Patterson wrote in 2006. That’s OK, only eight years ago. Based on the more current books in the Cross series, I knew he lost his wife but never knew how. This books details her death in some flashback chapters as Cross and his partner hunt for a serial rapist and killer. Cross also makes some life changes in this book. The story gives the reader the usual twisted character – this time in the form of “The Butcher” – but it also delves into a more personal Alex Cross.

I also didn’t know that “Cross” was the basis of another Alex Cross movie – titled just that: “Alex Cross.” Tyler Perry stars as Cross. I never thought of Perry as the serious cop type. So now I have an “old” movie to go watch as well – another something I rarely did. I watched “Kiss the Girls” and “Along Came a Spider” years ago, with Morgan Freeman in the Alex Cross role. Excellent movies, but then Freeman is a genius actor. I just might have to go back and rewatch those movies as well.

Like all of Patterson’s books, they can be read as freestanders. You miss the behind-the-scene plot order, but if you’ve never read an Alex Cross book, or poo-poo Patterson as a method writer, I recommend this particular book.

As for the cozy series, Amanda Lee has a series out dubbed “Embroidery Mysteries.” I just read the first one, “The Quick and the Thread,” last weekend. Surprisingly good, and not really all that old – just 2010.

I’d never read this author, but she offers a no-stall mystery that has a solid story line from beginning to end. No annoying, whiny or unbelievable characters either, which is always a plus in a cozy. The main character is a San Francisco accountant who moves to a small Oregon town to open an embroidery business. I’m an avid cross stitcher, which is why I picked up the series to begin with. Because I’m that avid cross stitcher, I also bought the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth in the series. But yes, I’m just picking up the first book now.

Did I mention the main character, Marcy, has an Irish wolfhound named Angus? Can’t beat cross stitch and an Irish wolfhound.

“Old” is not bad. Maybe I’ll have to start rereading some classics next?

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


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