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Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud cuckoo land

Stories are the threads that bind us all together.

This summer I participated in a challenge to read a long book. I decided I needed to own whatever long book I read—so as to be thoroughly invested in it, and for underlining and annotating. After much sifting through booklists and my own TBR, I chose Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I had read and loved All the Light We Cannot See but I had heard this newer one was confusing and dull.

But those rumors could not have been more wrong: I loved and adored Cloud Cuckoo Land (even while acknowledging why not everyone would love it).

The book tells three different stories: Anna’s, which is set in Constantinople just as it falls to the Ottoman Empire; Zeno’s, which is set in the second half of the 20th century as he becomes an orphan, survives the Korean War, and returns to figure out a life in a small town in northern Idaho, and Konstance’s, set some years forward in humanity’s history on a space ship carrying the remnants of humanity to a new planet on a journey that will take generations.

Uniting these stories is an even older tale, Cloud Cuckoo Land, the story of Aethon, who sees a performance of Aristophanes’s The Birds and thinks that the fictional place is a real one, and so sets out on a journey to find it; and also the story of Aethon’s story being told to a sick niece in order to keep her alive.

While I enjoyed reading the three different stories, what makes this book masterful is the way Aethon’s story connects them all.

In other words, it is a book about books and reading and libraries as well as the fear and injury and loss and devastation of being human, but it is mostly a book about stories. About how we read and reread them through time, and different things they mean to different generations. How they heal us and add light to that dreary painfulness of being human. How they, in essence, save us.

It's a book to be experienced; read, instead of read about, so I will just say this:

I loved it and think anyone who loves thoughtful books that span much of human time without plodding or bogging down will also love it.


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