All I need to be entertained are cats within ear-scratching distance and a good book . . .OK, maybe that's not ALL I need, but it's a good start.

I love to read. And I love to get recommendations for books to read.

I started Cats and a Book to share the books I read with others. Some I love, some I don't, but you may love the ones I don't, so you're welcome to post your own comments and suggestions.

To make it easier to purchase books you may read about on the blog, I've linked to through The Cats and a Book Bookstore, which is located on the bottom of this page. Your purchases are fulfilled and handled through Amazon. To assure your privacy, Cats and a Book doesn't handle any of your payment or contact information.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Noah's Compass, by Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler is honest. Sometimes painfully so, but more often than not, with gentleness and humor. Her stories don't always have happy endings, but they're real endings, the kind real people have. Her characters face life the way we do. They take chances, they make mistakes, they live with the consequences of their choices. Some events are tragic, some are funny, some are happenstance, some are by choice--but they are experiences we all have.

In Tyler's most recent novel, Noah's Compass, Liam Pennywell has moved down the academic career ladder with each job change, the latest being downsized out of his position as a teacher at a private elementary school. With this last change, he also downsized to a smaller living space. And this is where the book begins: Pennywell is attacked on his first evening there. The resulting loss of memory from a concussion obsesses him. This leads him to an unlikely relationship with a professional "rememberer" and greater interaction with his three daughters and an ex-wife, with their varying degrees of concern for Pennywell's health and happiness, and demands for his attention. But Pennywell has plenty of memories which he shares throughout the book, though his inability to remember the attack is like a puzzle he can't solve.

The reader shouldn't expect any great resolution at the conclusion of the book, although I felt Pennywell had managed to keep himself afloat, which seemed to be his goal. I won't spoil the concept of Noah's compass, except to say that the book is aptly named.

Noah's Compass is easy to read and hard to put down. This is Anne Tyler's 18th novel, and she won a Pulitzer Prize for her novel Breathing Lessons. I'd recommend Breathing Lessons and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant if you enjoyed Noah's Compass, two of my Anne Tyler favorites.

Noah's Compass was published in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf. Her website can be found here.

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