Currently Reading: Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
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A few times a year the Mechanicsburg public library hosts a used book sale, selling the books that the community has donated. I look forward to this event almost as much as I look forward to Christmas. It takes place a few blocks from the library in a cold warehouse crammed with old wooden bookshelves and narrow aisles.
A few months ago at the library sale I was browsing in the fiction section when a woman handed me a used copy of Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian. “It’s a great book, you’ll love it,” she said. I took the book and examined it as I would any book – read the synopsis on the back, read the first paragraph, leafed through to the middle and read a few sentences. It looked ok, but I had a stack of books already in my arms. As soon as the woman was out of sight, I placed the book back on the shelf.
I kept browsing, and a few minutes later I turned the corner around a bookshelf and I ran into that woman again. “Where’s Midwives?” she asked. “You should really get it. It’s a great book,” she said again. Feeling a little sheepish for getting caught without it in my stack, I said, “Oh yeah, it’s over here.” She watched as I went back to the shelf and picked it up. She nodded with approval.
It was odd that this woman who knew nothing about me would presume that I would like some random book. I guess it’s not that random – the cover does proclaim it’s a national bestseller – but still… I think book selections are personal. But if the woman was that adamant about it, I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was only $2.
So now I’ve started it – and I'm still only lukewarm about it. It’s not poorly written, and I'm vaguely interested in finding out what happens at the midwife’s trial. I would probably enjoy it much more if books like My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk and Sunnyside by Glen David Gold weren’t waiting on the shelf in my living room calling my name.
I’ve never read Chris Bohjalian before. Does anyone have any comments/insights about this author?