Two Great Books, One Bad Reading Month

The Disappearing Spoon and Attachments

I managed to read two recreational books in October. Which is both tough to admit and deserving of some slack. Ask me how many pages I read for work in that same period! It was a lot.

In short, The Disappearing Spoon took me about three weeks to finish. Attachments took me one day. Welcome to my reading life.

The books couldn’t be more different.

I read Sam Kean’s excellent The Violinist’s Thumb a few years ago. Genetics is a pet interest of mine, and I found the book delightful and engaging. It took me a couple years to get to The Disappearing Spoon. I had a bad experience with chemistry in high school, which squelched any possible affinity for the subject. But The Disappearing Spoon made chemistry interesting. Kean has a great way of drawing out personalities and making them fit together into a coherent narrative. The book is full of surprising anecdotes, and he explains science in a way that makes it accessible to the layperson (i.e., me). I’m by no means an expert, but I feel like I’ve made up at least a little of my embarrassing lack of chemistry knowledge.

A couple weeks ago, I was hanging out in a coworker’s office on a Friday afternoon and spotted a copy of Attachments on her shelf. I asked if I could borrow it. I’ve read most of Rainbow Rowell’s books– Eleanor & Park, Fangirl, and Landline— but I hadn’t yet made it to her debut adult novel, Attachments.

I read it in one gulp on Saturday. A lot of novels dealing with multiple forms of media and formal techniques (in this case, emails) get bogged down in replicating the exact format. (To; From; Time Sent; Subject; from latest to first message) Attachments did away with that. In fact, the conversations appeared more like instant messages more than emails. Despite taking place around Y2K, it feels remarkably fresh.

The story revolves around Lincoln, the IT guy assigned to read the emails of reporters at a local newspaper. Beth, a movie critic, and Jennifer, a copyeditor, send a lot of personal emails to one another, which get caught in the company filters. Lincoln is supposed to send them a warning, but he doesn’t. Instead, he finds himself looking forward to reading their notes to one another and realizes he’s developing feelings for Beth.

My dad once asked me what the equivalent of a “rom-com” was in books; well, this is it. I loved every second of it.

At times, Lincoln seems a little too good to be true; but so do all of Rainbow Rowell’s male leads. But if you follow her on Twitter (which I recommend) and have seen the incredible creations (culinary, craft, horological) of her husband, can you really blame her?

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