To celebrate the new movie and to nominate a James Bond novel for the Spies & Intrigue list for Popular Paperbacks, I picked up Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel written by Ian Fleming. In case you are unfamiliar with James Bond for some bizarre reason or another, Bond is a spy/agent for the British Secret Service. In this particular book, he goes to France to play a high stakes baccarat game at a casino in hopes to stop a Soviet agent from gaining back the money in gambling that he lost in bad deals before the Soviet agency: SMERSH figures out what he has done.
Amazingly enough, this premise of reading about a card game is actually interesting and holds the reader's attention. I've never been one to watch Poker on TV or even when the movie of Casino Royale came out a few years back, the card game dragged for me as a viewer. Preparing myself to read about this card game that 1) I've never heard of before (Baccarat); and 2) is as passive of an action sequence as possible, I wasn't expecting it to be interesting whatsoever. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was interesting! :)
If you've seen the film version of this story, you'll find there are many similarities, but just as many differences. Over the years, Bond as the movie character has toned down his sexism a bit. And Daniel Craig definitely doesn't fit the image of Bond described in the novel. As a female viewer, I'm glad that he is Bond in the movies right now!
Anyway, if you've seen the movies and enjoyed them, you should take a step back in time and read the novels from the '50s and '60s. You won't regret it.
James Bond fans should also pick up Silverfin by Charlie Higson, the first volume in the Young Bond series. It showcases Bond's background as a teenager and you'll be able to find out how he got his start!