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Focus On…Books

Reading for pleasure – do you remember what that is? Do you remember the last time you read anything that wasn’t in case format? Do you pick up a paperback and automatically flip to the back to subtract out the exhibits to see how many pages you actually have to read? If so, it is time to put down yet another case about the pharmaceutical industry or Dell’s business model and pick up one of these stunning books.

The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
Now this is an exciting book. Most novels tend to start off by messing around with character development, languishing in overly-complex plots, or needlessly describing scenery to the point that you start hating adjectives. Dan Brown won’t bore you like that, instead he jumps right into a non-stomp intrigue-laden romp dealing with symbology, hidden meanings in DaVinci’s paintings, and interpretations of the Catholic Church. This book is an extremely quick read, constantly holding your attention with complex puzzles to solve, interesting historical tidbits, and colorful characters that come across as being real people. It also has a surprise ending, with the puppet master not being revealed until the very end.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
When I first saw this book, I didn’t see why anyone would want to read a story chronicling the life and times of a geeky MIT math major. But then I did something crazy – I read the summary on the back! In this novel, Martel’s protagonist is a young Indian boy whose family is lost at sea when they attempt to transport their zoo animals to Canada. Pi luckily survives, but finds himself in an equally bad predicament: stuck on a small lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Pi must use all of the knowledge he’s gained from growing up as a zookeeper to keep himself alive until help arrives. This is an extremely well-written book and Martel was rewarded for his efforts with the Man Booker Prize.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Talk about a classic. This book is perfect for anyone who will actually be on the road this summer, or for you investment bankers who want to spend that extra one hour you have each day when you aren’t working to vicariously experience a life that could have been. This novel is the cornerstone of the Beat Generation, telling the tale of underground America in the 1950s. The protagonist is Sal Paradise, a writer who is trying to experience something to write about, but he is quickly upstaged by the energetic Dean Moriarty, a man who only knows how to live in the present, jumping from place to place, woman to woman, and coast to coast on the drop of a hat. This book is a must read.

April 5, 2004
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