No sooner have you carved out a comfort zone for yourself than you are urged to step outside of it.
The library itself is no haven from this trend. The Five Book Challenge is in full swing and I am starting to feel like a bad, bad person for failing to give it a bash. But last week, while on desk at Upper Riccarton, I looked up and felt the cogs of the Universe lock into place. In front of me was a table groaning under the weight of several beautifully packaged Mystery Book parcels and as luck would have it, there were five books per pack.
I took two packs: “Girls Night In” and “Take a Trip”. For starters “Girls Night In” was a complete disaster – I have to face the harsh reality that I am no longer “a girl”. The pack contained two Chick Lit novels, two style books and a book called Tea Time – 30 irresistible and delicious afternoon treats. I don’t know anyone who bakes biscuits on her girls night in. If you do, can I be your friend?
My “Take a Trip” pack was a better choice and I could probably read all of them. It contained:
- “Samira and Samir: the heartrending story of love and oppression in Afghanistan” by Siba Shakib. This is a gender discrimination novel set in Afghanistan. My heart sank from the very first quotation: “If you have a secret, take it, carry it to the Hindu Kush and lay it beneath a stone”. Maybe I am just all Afghanistaned out.
- This was balanced by two Di Morrissey Ozzie sagas. I found myself distracted by Ms Morissey’s publicity photos, she does not look like an outback kind of a gal – not unless there are a lot more beauty salons under lone blue gums than I have been lead to believe. The problem here is all mine I suspect, for I am an Australian Literature Snob, think Bruce Chatwin and The Songlines, think Patrick White and The Tree of Man and almost anything by Tim Winton.
- The novel Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee strikes me as being more about migration than taking a trip – trust me, they are not the same thing.
- But the last book in my pack is a little gem. Written by Jennifer Barclay, it has a catchy title: Meeting Mr Kim: or how I went to Korea and learned to love Kimchi and it comes highly recommended by Simon Winchester. I am delighted to welcome this book to my zone.
I’ve seen Mystery Book parcels at several libraries round the network, Upper Riccarton, Shirley and Hornby to name a few. They have, without exception, been put together with a lot of love, care, time and effort. I wonder what customer feedback has been like.
In so far as my combined Five Book Mystery Parcel Challenge went, the “sunny side up” me had fun, but the “jam side down” Roberta just kept asking: “Why? Why? Why?”