Book #10: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Are you a reader? I feel like if you’re reading this post, you probably are. Do you know what it’s like to be so immersed in a book that it defines your days? So sucked into the imagined world within those pages that you’re just waiting all day to open the book and re-enter their world? If you aren’t a reader, if this hasn’t happened to you, keep reading until it does. Sometimes I forget that it’s possible. I get discouraged and have trouble finishing books. Then, I luck upon one that reminds me–I’m a reader.

I read The Night Circus in a day and a half. It’s a little over 500 pages long, but it flew by. In the novel, Le Cirque des Reves appears mysteriously, it’s black and white silhouette suddenly thrown against the horizon of some field just outside of town. It opens at dusk and closes at dawn. Once inside the gates, the circus is exactly what you’d want a circus to be–the smell of popcorn and caramel, maybe a little sawdust, floats through the air, and the paths between the tents aren’t always quite navigable. Everything is black and white, and each tent holds what seems to be a small miracle. For reasons that I won’t give away, the circus is not quite limited by the rules of physics. But it’s never quite magical enough that you could put your finger on what isn’t possible, where the line between real and magical is drawn. It’s a love story, a coming-of-age story, and a fantasy all at once. It’s absolutely stunning in its detail; I can close my eyes now and feel what a night at Le Cirque des Reves feels like: I can hear the ticking of the elaborate clock at the entrance, smell the cocoa that’s never too hot to drink nor too cool, feel the slip of the tent fabric between my fingers. The book is richly detailed at every turn, and you’ll find yourself wrapped in the luxury of it right away.

This is the kind of book that goes down in history. It’s just literary enough–consider the implications of an elaborate good vs. evil struggle combined with the heavy-handed use of black and white imagery layered atop a love story that rivals that of Romeo and Juliet in the “star-crossed lovers” department. But, it’s still accessible in a way that made me read it so voraciously that I didn’t notice the clock ticking past 3 in the morning. It’s the sort of book that you finish and close reluctantly. The kind of book that reminds you that you’re a reader.

Maybe my lot in life as a reader is a curse? There’s something so truly heartbreaking about closing a book that’s so beautiful. That’s the thing about a book–you have to finish it. It has to end. You have to close it, place it on the table, and return to the real world, where it’s 3 o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday.

The Night Circus will remind you why you’re a reader. Check out Erin Morgenstern’s website to get a feel for her aesthetic. Then, stay up all night to read this novel. It’s so completely worth it.

The list so far:

1. In One Person by John Irving

2. Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato

3. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

4. Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton

5. The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers

6. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

7. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian by Kurt Vonnegut

8. My Life in France by Julia Child

9. Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

9 thoughts on “Book #10: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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