A little while ago, I applied for a job at a local independent bookstore. As part of my application, I had to include two handwritten reviews! Not only did I have to write these out by hand, I had to make them exactly 200 words. While I love working within a prompt or similar limitations, I’m a bit verbose, and so getting my general impressions across in so few words was quite a challenge. Another challenge was the fact that one of the books needed to be a nonfiction book! I read almost exclusively fiction, but it just so happened that during my adventure in Sacramento the previous weekend, I picked up an autobiographical account from The Crocker Museum gift shop!
Here are the reviews in all their unedited glory! I wrote them on the computer first so that I could get an accurate word count easily and make edits as necessary. Then I painstakingly copied them by hand. And even though I wrote the reviews specifically for the application, I thought it would be a real waste to not share them with the world!
‘The Rules of Magic’ is Alice Hoffman’s spellbinding prequel to her book ‘Practical Magic.’ It is the revisiting of her characters Jet and Frances Owens, a look at their story before they become the middle-aged caretakers of the central characters in ‘Practical Magic.’ It’s the beginning of their lives as young women and the experiences that will lend them such wisdom later in life. Having never read any previous work by Hoffman (I simply saw the movie version of ‘Practical Magic’ as an impressionable young woman), I fell in love quickly and all at once with this story. Her great care to dress each moment with enchantment by way of horticulture was intoxicating. Magical realism is a delicate balance, and often other authors let themselves slip too deep into whimsy, while Hoffman’s magic feels refined and natural and matter-of-fact. Her characters instantly feel like old friends, and one can’t help but get invested in their narratives right away. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who wants to believe in magic and destiny, someone who needs a reminder to live life out loud.
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‘And I’d Do It Again’ is an autobiographical account of Aimée Crocker’s fascination and romance with The East, or all things “Oriental” as she would describe it. Despite her protestations that it is not an autobiography, the story told to us does indeed describe the details of her life, such details that pertain to exactly how she found herself upon the path to discovering the voice of a land that so called to her. I came by this book after a recent trip to The Crocker Art Museum, and though I did not get a chance to explore the building entirely, once in the bookshop, I felt drawn to this rather plain-looking book. After reading the preface, seeing that if Crocker could live her life again, her only change to it would be to experience even more, to cram more moments, places, and people into her life, I knew I needed to bring this book home with me. Such a kinship to Crocker’s very soul, felt I. A woman assured of her own mortality, determined to drink deeply from the well of life and experience… a spirit I try to emulate in my own story. A must-read for any adventurer!