September 2, 2011, by Group Post
Whether it’s Nook, Kindle or iPad, hardback or paper, library or bookstore — we can never get enough great stories. So as summer starts to wane, we at Fifty is the New share some recent good reads. What we did on our summer vacation, literary style.
This summer reminded me of my girlhood, when every Saturday I checked out 11 books (the maximum allowed) from the Pasadena Public Library, and returned them a week later for another near dozen. Two I liked:
Wesley the Owl: a Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl by Stacey O’Brien. Mandatory reading for animal lovers!
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: a romp through France’s bourgeoisie told by two razor-sharp wits whose lives collide in a fancy apartment building in the 5th arrondissement.
Summer for me means sun, sand, sea, and books, lots of books, and though I now live in the mountains I still make time for long, slow days and words that make my heart sing.
I am, for the dozenth time, re-reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This delicious froth of manners and misunderstanding within the Bennett family is a perfect summer distraction from our modern miasma.
I’ve also started Pompeii by Richard Harris, the historical fiction of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Sounds like a potboiler, yes?
A good book teaches you something you didn’t know before about the world and about yourself.
I have been married to a Frenchman for 22 years, and even wrote a book on the humorous differences between our two cultures, but What French Women Know by Debra Ollivier managed to further explain my husband to me. In addition, it provided revelation on the impulses that drive my approach to relationships. An excellent and entertaining read for anyone trying to decipher failed and successful unions!
Summer makes me think of places I have visited and long to return to. This year Ireland captured my imagination and I found Benjamin Black (BB). BB is the alarming alter-ego of Irish literary genius John Banville. His uneasy characters include Quirke, a disheveled (inside and out) pathologist, who stumbles and bumbles along until he is able to uncover a single truth. It’s 1950s Dublin, we are spared any DNA search and recovery, these characters have to observe and think. Christine Falls and Elegy for April are recommended.
Reading isn’t a seasonal activity for me. Since I am not in school nor do I have children in school, time is not as delineated as it once was. But sometimes I read more obsessively than others. Now is one of those times.
Shantaram by Gregory Roberts was 920 pages of complete obsession. I could not stop reading and so I am told, as with any good addiction when I was done I wanted more. I have never been more enthralled by a book. The story is about love, faraway places, loss, redemption and the mystery of human existence—a gut wrenching, epic literary experience.
I get most of my reading done in bed or on airplanes lately, though I long for sun, sand and no sense of time.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese took me to Ethiopia with a story of twin brothers born of a tragic union. Though filled with detailed medical explanations, the stories of love, family and betrayal were riveting and unexpected.
I’m just sinking my teeth into Blood, Bones & Butter a memoir from Gabrielle Hamilton chef/owner of Prune in NYC. Deelicious!
Got a good book to share? Be sure to add your favorite summer read!