I love the look and feel of a new book, especially a beautiful hardcover one. I very rarely buy new books - mine tend to be second hand, or should I say pre-loved, from the local thrift shops.
But I was given Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri for a birthday present, and even if I hadn't enjoyed the collection of short stories inside, it would probably still be a Friday Favourite for the cover alone.
Unaccustomed Earth was my first introduction to Lahiri's work (I've since read The Namesake and have Interpreter of Maladies awaiting my attention!), and she quickly became a favoured author of mine. Her stories are beautifully written, and capture all you need, painting enough of a picture to give you a sense of time, space, feelings and thoughts, yet at the same time, allowing your imagination to create the rest.
This collection of (relatively) short stories depict the lives of Indian characters who have made their home in the US, predominately Massachusetts. Having been there for generations, the US is very much home, but their ties are still strong to their origins, and traditions and customs still firmly guide them in their North American worlds.
The New York Times has put it better than I have:
"...the fact that America is still a place where the rest of the world comes to reinvent itself — accepting with excitement and anxiety the necessity of leaving behind the constrictions and comforts of distant customs — is the underlying theme of Jhumpa Lahiri’s sensitive new collection of stories, 'Unaccustomed Earth.'"
I've recently got into the habit of reading a short story over a cereal bowl in the mornings. This book is definitely coming back off the shelf and on to the breakfast table!