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Monday, July 13, 2009

My Life As A Critic

Ever faced a bookshelf in a store or library and wondered, "Do I really want to check that out/buy that?"

I read a lot. Probably a book or two a week. (I have little interest in television besides the news and History Channel.) Fortunately, my employer has just started an in-office library which allows employees to check out books and DVDs. The employees have indicated their enthusiasm by also contributing books we've read and enjoyed, so everyone benefits.

But....what to do when you don't know if you really want that book?

West Bank Mama has introduced me to Goodreads which not only makes recommendations and allows friends to share recommendations, but now offers a reviewing service. I can now write a review of a book, and annoy all my friends by posting it on my blog and Facebook pages.

Here you go:

The Pillars of the Earth The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is simply one of the best books ever written. It recounts the struggle of medieval not-quite-English-yet folks during the Civil War of the 12th century (think "Cadfael"). The characters and events revolve around the building of a cathedral, through which the author sketches the socio-economic dynamics of life in this one shire. The characters and conflicts are exceptionally well drawn, and the period is fascinating. The social change wrought by war and famine is also riveting: if you ever thought the Middle Ages were stable and boring, you won't after reading this book.

I can't date when I read this book because I read it over again approximately once a year. I just finished this year's read. It's really that good.


Not very profound, huh? It certainly doesn't do credit to the book. Ken Follett is better known for contemporary thrillers, yet in his Forward to the most recent edition of The Pillars of the Earth, he expressed pleasure and surprise that of all the books he has written, this is the one that seems to have the most universal appeal and is consistently at the top of the publisher's "sell" lists. He confesses to a fascination with Gothic cathedrals......maybe that's why I enjoy the book so much. I share that fascination.


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