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September 14th, 2005 Karla Starr | Books
 

LITERARY THREESOME

The three top books Portlanders are buying.

     
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Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2), by Christopher Paolini

#1 at Powell's and downtown Borders

Paolini-who, with two novels in the Inheritance Trilogy under his belt, just turned 21-is finally growing out of puberty. Escaping from a home-schooled life spent imagining himself as the dungeon master? Not as easy. Make no mistake: He's probably read the entire Gold Room and watched Star Wars enough to make his "wizards and whatnot" world an impressive feat for his age. And undoubtedly, younger readers will swoon: The book, released in mid-August, already has 1.8 million copies in print. But no matter how smart Paolini is, there's something to be said for keeping your altar boys young and virginal, but your fantasy novelists weathered and grimy.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

#1 at Amazon.com, #3 at Powell's

How refreshing that this little-known fantasy series has finally found enough readers willing to tackle the goings-on at Hogwarts! It's easy to dismiss J.K. Rowling's series as the annoyingly omnipresent Mariah Carey of fiction, having perfected the art of perfectly embracing all boundaries without pushing any of them. Potter is kids' lit that's commonly read by adults, fanciful in invention while staying grounded in its strong character drama. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis she's not-but there's something to be said about her status as the world's first billionaire author. On a similar note, Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton also made billions selling entertaining yet watered-down merchandise.

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

#1 at Annie Bloom's and Twenty-third Avenue Books, #2 at Powell's

Yes, Hosseini's debut novel was published way back in June of 2003-so why are people still reading it? While Potter and Eldest successfully transport their readers to lands of dragons 'n' crap, it's refreshing to know how many Portlanders are hip to the fact that the escape sought from books can do more-it can also inform them about other cultures without losing any sense of drama, heartache, wonder or awe. Sparse and unrelenting, The Kite Runner's satisfying, twisting plot follows a man's return to Afghanistan for the first time since his youth, where he searches for his childhood friend, giving the novel its perfect mixture of a timely political and timeless personal story. KARLA STARR.

 
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