five books

I was with my friend who works for a publishing company yesterday and we dropped by his office. On our way out, he said I could pick out titles I’d like to take home from the row of books on a table. He said the company just gives them away, so after skimming the back covers, I brought home these five:


The Ninth Life of Louis Drax, Liz Jensen

“Louis Drax is a boy like no other. He is brilliant and strange, and every year something violent seems to happen to him. On his ninth birthday, Louis goes on a picnic with his parents and falls off a cliff. The details are shrouded in mystery. Louis’s mother is shell-shocked; his father has vanished. And after some confusion Louis himself, miraculously alive but deep in a coma, arrives at Dr. Pascal Dannachet’s celebrated coma clinic.

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax is the story of a family falling apart, told in the vivid voices of its comatose son and Dr. Dannachet as he is drawn into the Draxes’ circle. Full of astonishing twists and turns, this is a masterful tale of the secrets the human mind can hide.”

Rules for Saying Goodbye, Katherine Taylor

“At twelve, Katherine was shipped from her provincial farm town to the glamorous chill of an East Coast prep school, where she was introduced to the cruelties of social distinctions, cocaine ‘so good it’s pink’, and an indispensable best friend.

Everyone has always said that Katherine shows ‘promise’, but as she navigates her twenties she begins to wonder whether she will amount to anything much at all. There are unsuitable men of enormous charm and unsuitable jobs of no charm at all; she drinks fourteen dollar cocktails but has no money for groceries; she travels for love and, when that doesn’t work out, she travels with her mother. As friends, flats and fiances fail to live up to her expectations she realizes that the one thing you can’t run away from is yourself.

Written with an unerring sense of the delights and malaises of a generation, this is a novel about breaking down and putting yourself back together again.”

The Da-da-dee-da-da Code, Robert Rankin

Most (if not all) of Mankind’s problems stem from Man’s natural inability to accurately predict future events.

And it is absolutely certain that in the case of Jonny Hooker, had he been granted the gift of precognition, he would not have taken the course of action that would lead inevitably to him floating headless and lifeless in the ornamental pond at Gunnersbury Park.

Jonny Hooker is a tormented man, but his former problems pale into insignificance when he receives a Very Special Letter telling him his name has been selected by a Competition Supercomputer to be a WiNNER WiNNER WiNNER!!!

But to claim his prize, he has to solve the Da-da-de-da-da Code.

Luckily, Jonny’s a musician, and he knows perfectly well that popular music always has Da-da-de-da-da somewhere in the beat – like ‘Waltzing Matilda’, or the National Anthem…

And it definitely has something to do with The Devil’s Chord… And with Robert Johnson… And with the last castrato… And it has also something to do with Elvis… And the Secret Parliament of Five…

And in solving the Da-da-de-da-da Code, he might also discover the truth behind why all the most famous rock musicians die aged twenty-seven. And the truth behind the raising of an ancient god and the destruction of the world.

For it’s all right there in the music, and all Jonny has to do is to crack that code. Before he dies on Monday.”

The Ministry of Special Cases, Nathan Englander

Kaddish Poznan chips the names off gravestones for a living, removing traces of disreputable ancestors for their more respectable kin. His wife Lillian works in insurance, earning money when people live longer than they fear. Set in a tumultuous Buenos Aires on the cusp of a military coup, the couple’s own tumultuous relationship is held together by their role as parents dedicated to a teenage son. As Argentina’s Dirty War unfolds around them, it threatens to overwhelm the infectious, mad energy of their lives. 

Their sometimes hilarious misadventures are soon replaced by something much darker. A visit to the dreaded Ministry of Special Cases is only the start of Englander’s stunning vision of a nation in the hold of corruption and torture, a place where absurdity, despair and hope are the end products of a bureaucracy run out of control.”

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Here is a small fact: You are going to die.

1939. Nazi Germany. The Country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier. Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with a foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall.

Some important information: This novel is narrated by Death.

It’s a small story about a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. 

Another thing you should know: Death will visit the book thief three times.


I found a common thread running through all the books I’ve chosen: Most of the characters are young. Death comes into play, in one way or another.


9 Responses to “five books”

  1. 1 danial ma March 15, 2008 at 12:59 am

    hej! mark…nice books. me too just bought some new books; the memory of keeper’s daughter, benazir bhutto: daughter of the east and mister pip…hope to finish it this summer…cheers!

  2. 2 RennyBA March 15, 2008 at 1:46 am

    I haven’t red any of them, but from your summery, I would say a good choice!

    Wishing you and Knut a great end to your week :-)

  3. 3 freshmess March 15, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Hey danial! I came upon The Memory Keeper’s Daughter sometime ago and wanted to get it. Thanks for reminding me about that chilling novel!

    Thanks, Renny! I wish you, Diane and the kids a nice weekend and an even better Easter celebration ahead! :)

  4. 4 Joshua March 17, 2008 at 12:53 am

    great choices!

    nathan englander is a wonderful author. try and hunt down his previously published collection of short stories, ‘For the Relief of Unbearable Urges’.

    happy reading, mark. :)

  5. 5 freshmess March 17, 2008 at 2:23 am

    thanks for the tip, joshua! hope all’s well with you. mwah!

  6. 6 Ryeness March 17, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    does your friend need one more friend to make his life more enjoyable? tell him i’m available. tsaka sagot ko na shipping ng books to hk!


  7. 7 freshmess March 17, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Hahaha! He’s good at giving food, too, Ryeness! He was just here and we pigged on bruschetta will lotsa good toppings, while watching Hairspray. :)

  8. 8 Ryeness March 21, 2008 at 1:03 pm


    how dare u make me salivate on my vacation! if i get back to work in 4 days 10 lbs heavier, i will lose my job!!!!!!!!!!

    [i just asked the resort receptionist where i could find an italian resto here in panglao. he said there’s none. then i asked whether they could prepare bruschetta for me if i gave them the recipe. no luck! :-( i’m getting quite frustrated and this is all your fault!!!]

    i’ll cyber-wink at you anyway! ;-)

  9. 9 freshmess March 21, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Hahaha, thanks for the cyber wink, Rye! You’re on holiday, so eat as you please! Just make sure to swim around much to burn calories. Tell them it’s as easy as 1-2-3, they can make it maybe on a pandesal instead? Just pick your own toppings, spinach, parma ham, mozzarella, basil maybe? :)

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