Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Books I've Loved: The Secret History
This isn't a new book. It isn't even new to me. I still remember the first time I read it. I was in Berlin and my friend Alex had recommended it to me so when I saw it in the English language bookstore, I didn't hesitate. I started it on the U-bahn home and basically didn't put it down until I was finished. I remember spending almost a whole day in a cafe near Potsdamer Platz, drinking coffee after coffee so I could stay there and read. It's that compelling.
The characters are all odd, and not necessarily in a good way. Yet somehow you get sucked into there strange little world. I have no interest in learning Greek and never thought I'd be interested in a group of people who are only brought together by the fact they're learning this ancient language.
I think what is so great about this book is the way it looks at morality and what may or may constitute acceptable human behavior. Plus, the stakes for all the characters are very high after a certain point. You just have to keep reading because you HAVE to know what happens next.
It's a book I go back to every couple of years because even when you know what happens, getting to the ending is still a journey worth taking. It's genius at making you follow people you probably won't like a lot. If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, go out and get a copy. I'm urging you to, the same way Alex urged me. You won't regret it.
If you don't believe me, here's the blurb:
Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.