Books on Trains

I recently had the opportunity to take a train to Oregon, a 40 hour journey. Most might balk at the thought of trundling along at 70 mph, making stops every hour or two along the way, and occasionally getting delayed by freight trains stuck in tunnels, but I’ve come to enjoy train travel, limited though it is for those of us not living in the Northeast. I read 4 books on my trip – all dutifully loaded onto my Nook via Overdrive beforehand – and I’d like to review two of them here.

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers

I read this book, published in 1983 (making it nearly as old as I am, being, as it were, published in 1982) because it was suppose to be ‘steampunk‘. It was most definitely not steampunk, but no matter – The Anubis Gates was absolutely thrilling, difficult to put down, and very likely the best novel I’ve read this year. Even 30 years on, Tim Powers’ masterfully woven story of time travel, sorcerer-magicians, Lord Byron, Samuel Coleridge, demented clowns and long-dead gods, all perfectly blended with bits horror and humor, still makes for a grand adventure.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

This is the fifth of Eco’s novels I’ve read and each time I pick one up, I get the same overwhelming sense – like drowning by book. But I should really should have more faith in Eco by now because undoubtedly 50 pages in, I’m totally hooked. Such was the case with The Prague Cemetery. Eco is a gifted storyteller, bringing alive history, philosophy, theology and more, in stories that, while complex, reward careful reading. The protagonist – Simone Simonini, a raging anti-Semite – is thoroughly repulsive but captivating nonetheless.

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