Are you familiar with Goodreads? If not, I highly recommend it. It's a cool website where you mark books you've read and want to read, which is excellent for me, because I can't remember books I've read years and years ago. And, like Facebook, you can add friends and see what they're reading and get ideas on your next favorite book. It really is an awesome place to keep track of books, write and read reviews and see what the latest and greatest books are.
Anyway, I've had The Kite Runner on my list of to-reads for months, and I finally picked up a used copy at D.I. a little while ago. I had absolutely no idea what it was about, only that it was supposed to be amazing and had been on The New York Times' bestseller list forever. So I started it one night and then brought it into work with me the next day so I could read it at lunch.
Almost every day since then, someone has seen me with that book and looked at it with the same longing look as a kid window shopping at a toy store. And, inevitably, complete strangers will hop on the elevator, take one look at my hands and say, "That's an amazing book," or "I absolutely loved that book." People would even come up to me in the break room while I was reading it and comment on how much they liked it. It was like being part of a cool club where everyone is suddenly getting the same haircut and looking fabulous with it -- you just wanted to have that same feeling.
I finished the book today, and I now understand why people I would probably never have a reason to talk to otherwise were looking at the cover so longingly. It was an incredible history of Afghanistan over about a 40-year period, but even more than that, it was a heartbreaking story about friendship, integrity, bigotry, heritage and honor. I swear I'm not trying to sound like a reviewer, but that's how wonderful this book was. At one point, I stayed up until 1 a.m. to get through a particularly intense part and ended the chapter nearly sobbing. The emotions in this book are raw, and you get swept up into the lives of the characters easily. I also loved how straightforward and simple the prose is -- Khaled Hosseini tells his story with vivid and powerful descriptions, but he lets the story take the forefront. You feel like you're reading his very private journal and, at the same time, looking through a scrapbook of his life.
Obviously, I recommend this book wholeheartedly, but it has also inspired me to focus more on my dreams as a writer, musician and photographer. I want to write something that makes perfect strangers stop each other in elevators to talk about how much they loved the book someone has in hand. I want to record a CD that makes people happy and that they'll listen to in their car when they need to unwind and feel content again. And I want to take more pictures that instantly tell stories and capture whimsy and emotion.
Here's to dreams and making them come true. What books have inspired you? I'm now on the hunt for the next Kite Runner.