So, I have another confession to make: I don’t ever read books again. Well, not ever. But aside from rereading all of Judy Blume’s coming of age novels right after college (which I actually loved just as I did the first time), I typically think it’s too big of a risk to return to something you love for fear that the initial magic will be lost. That’s why I have really only returned–and on just two occasions–to books that I haven’t loved. That’s right. When there’s so much out there to explore, I chose to reread books that I didn’t love.

In my defense, both of the books were critically lauded or at least highly praised and I just didn’t see what the big deal was. Maybe I missed something that everyone else caught. For some reason, I decided they warranted a second look. Well, after revisiting I can tell you that I had misjudged The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank and was absolutely right about Zadie Smith’s White Teeth being a waste of time, at least for me.

I mean, what do book reviewers know anyway? Aren’t we just readers with big mouths? And lots of opinions? And of the mind that people should care about what we think?

Well, this reviewer does know that sometimes there is a book that just knocks your socks off, takes your breath away and requires you to tell everyone about it. It might even change any previously conceived notions you may have held about rereading books. Yep, that’s right (part two). When there’s so much out there to explore, I have found a book worth returning to again, and even possibly again: THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruis Zafón.

I am actually not quite sure one can absorb in one reading everything that is this multi-layered, expertly cast work that is part thriller, love story, fairytale, drama, historical fiction, and modern-day classic. Zafón has written a complex, yet highly readable story centering on Daniel Sempere and a single book he chooses one fateful day during the summer of 1945. Daniel’s bookstore owner father has taken them to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, secretly hidden within the streets of Barcelona, and tells his son to select a book, any book, amongst the thousands housed there. According to the older Sempere, in adopting a book from the cemetery, this once forgotten book will gain new life and live on forever.

Daniel takes the charge seriously and spends a great deal of time walking through the maze of books. He settles on a book titled The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax, a gothic mystery. Having loved the book, Daniel goes on a quest to read all of Carax’s works only to find that the novelist is no longer living. Not only that, the few books he’s written have all but disappeared. Daniel begins digging for answers and learns that he isn’t the only one interested in Carax. His own curiosity sends Daniel on a thrilling yet dangerous journey to uncover the mystery of this Julián Carax, while learning much more along the way.

At the end, and at its heart, THE SHADOW OF THE WIND is a book about books. Our love of books, the importance of books, and the value of the story. There’s nothing like a book that can take you in, transport you to another place and stay with you long after you have returned it to the shelves. In the opening pages of this gem, Daniel himself describes the feelings we experience when we have found a perfect book:

“I lay in the bluish half-light with the book on my chest and listened to the murmur of the sleeping city. My eyes began to close, but I resisted. I did not want to lose the story’s spell or bid farewell to its characters yet.”

Rating: 5 stars
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 487