Summer Reading - Random Reasonings

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Summer Reading

Each year Publishers Weekly releases their Summer Reads best book picks for adults and kids.

This year’s picks for adults include:

It’s 2 A.M. In Little America by Ken Kalfus
After the Lights Go Out by John Vercher
Avalon by Nell Zink
Everything I Need I Get From You, How fangirls created the Internet as we know it by Kaitlyn Tiffany
Fellowship Point by Alice Elliott Dark
Fire Season by Leyna Krow
The Island by Adrian McKinty
The Midcoast, by Adam White
She’s Nice Though by Mia Mercado
The Third Person by Emma Grove
The Twilight World by Werner Herzog
Two Wheels Good, The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen

Their recommended children’s book is The Blur by Minh Le

I hope that by the time summer is over I’ll have read a few of these.

When it comes to reading it seems we all have genres that speak to us, that have an irresistible pull on us. My favorite genre is the mystery or detective novel. But I frequently deviate kand go off in a new direction.

Are you a reader? If yes, what genres do you enjoy? What book are you currently reading?

All of my life I’ve made time to read every day. Now that I’m retired I love the luxury of being able to get inside a good book and just stay there til I’ve finished it.

Bookstores are my kryptonite. I have a total weakness for them. When I travel I’ll visit every bookstore I find and never leave empty handed. I love used bookstores where I can pick up a paperback for 50 cents or a hard cover for $2. I love bookstores that have the newest releases and showcase regional authors.

One of the great thrills of  reading is the accidental find of an engaging and compelling book by an author I’ve never read.

In the spring of 2019 I was in a bookstore in Fairhope, Alabama and picked up the newest release by author Louise Penny. I had never read any of her books before and the one I bought was the 15th in her series of Chief Inspector Gamache books. I loved it and was hooked. I quickly went online to my favorite bookseller, Mystery Lover Books in Oakmont, PA, and asked them to order all of the previous Inspector Gamache books for me.

I now sign up to get Penny’s newest releases as soon as they are published. She has a new one coming out at the end of this year, title still not determined, and I can’t wait for it. Penny is one of those authors who is re-readable! This spring I decided to reread all my Inspector Gamache books in chronological order and for weeks I spent my days and nights in the small village of Three Pines with my literary acquaintances Ruth, Clara, Gabri, Olivier, Myrna, Armand, Reine-Marie, Jean-Guy, and Isobel.

Which is another great thing about reading. It transports you from where you are to a new place, new experiences, different times, and fascinating people.

A few summers ago I decided to read everything written by Ayn Rand. I started with Atlas Shrugged (published 1957) and finished with The Fountainhead (published 1943), her two best known works, and should have reversed that order. Rand is not fast, easy reading; but she’s compelling. I could not put these books down.

Her views and writing are still relevant today and have influenced many cultural and business phenomenons. Perhaps Elon Musk is the Hank Reardon of today, the kind of prime mover the world needs. Atlas Shrugged ranks at #20 on the PBS Great American Read list of books you must read.

In 2020 to counter the frustration of being in lock down I decided to read historical novels about WWII  when the whole world was on something much worse than a lockdown. I started with Lilac Girls and read Radar Girls, Atomic City Girls, Les Parisiennes, Code Name Helene, and The Light Over London. In each book I learned so much about the lives of women during that era; their horrors, sacrifices, bravery, dangers, selfless deeds and contributions to ending that war.

Wherever you go this summer, even if you just spend the summer at home, I hope you make time to indulge in some good books. You can’t beat traveling from your favorite chair or hammock.

“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

Jhumpa Lahiri

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  1. Good Morning, Carol and thank you for such a great topic for this week. Egads…where to begin? I have a few thousand books and add to that total weekly, if not more. I am so glad you brought up Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged should be required reading to get out of high school and a semester’s study in college, and then to read it at least once every 5 years.
    Typically I am reading 4 – 8 books at a time, mainly based on what room I am in. My main genres are History (civil war, , Vietnam – I have the largest private collection of VN War literature and have even published a bibliography #4,540,846 on the New York Times List)), Interesting Non Fiction, such as Edward Abbey (Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang, or other nature writers, I am even in the process of reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica. I picked up a used set for $5 a few years back so when I come into my office I pick a volume up at random and open it and read whatever comes up. Travel books and brochures, Theology, Books I am currently reading include The Case of the Disappearing Fork by Sam Kean; The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons, Sam Kean; David Denby’s Great Books; The Dying Citizen, Victor David Hanson, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Working in a crematorium), Caitlin Doughty. I also have a complete set of Harvard Classics, I have a few valuable books that I need to find a way to sell – I have a 300+ page guidebook to Philadelphia and the 1876 Philadelphia Worlds Fair. I am sure someone in the Philadelphia region would want it 🙂 Thanks for the great blog, Carol!

  2. Wow! You’re reading genres are amazing! So good to hear from you and to know what you’re delving into on the printed page.

    I love that you’re reading the Britannica. I feel bad for the young generation just growing up that may never know the absolute jot of flipping through the volumes of an encyclopedia.

    To me a home without books is a very sad thing indeed!

    I agree 100% that Atlas Shrugged should be mandatory reading. Not sure high school students are mature enough to pick up on all the messages in that book but at least its a start and like you say, mandatory to read it every five years. Even though The Fountainhead is a bit racy at places, it should be mandatory too.

    I always have two books on the go simultaneously; one for pleasure and one for knowledge. Although the pleasure books provide knowledge as well. I just finished Judy Blume’s book In the Unlikely Event which was a pleasure read … but through it I learned about the three aviation crashes in Elizabeth, NJ in the 1950s that changed guidelines about where airports could be located.

    I have a recommendation for you, one I finished recently from my knowledge category. It is Life Lessons From a Brain Surgeon by Rahul Jandial, MD, PhD. Fascinating!

  3. Hi Carol,

    Very much a reader! Favorite authors (alphabetical order):

    • Edward Abbey
    • Jonathan Carroll
    • Michael Crichton
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky

    Currently reading (and/or re-reading)
    • On Quality: An Inquiry into Excellence: Unpublished & Selected Writings (Robert & Wendy Pirsig)
    • Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William Shirer)
    • The Screwtape Letters (C.S. Lewis)
    Precious Books
    • The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)
    • The Monkey Wrench Gang/ Heyduke Lives! (Edward Abbey)
    • The Prophet (Kahlil Gibran)
    • Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Robert Pirsig)

    Agree that Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is a monumental work and an essential read…but I’ll never slog through it again. It’s such an arduous work and has to be digested in small doses, and while I’m glad to have read it, it was almost a duty to continue reading and a relief to finish.

    I bought a beautiful leather bound gold leaf collection (Franklin Heirloom Library) classics while stationed in Germany, then bought another collection of classics (Heritage Press, now out of print) a couple of years later. Both sets were intended to look really good just sitting there on my library shelves to create the impression I was one well read, highly cultured sumbitch. Then I started actually reading them and realized there’s a reason they’re considered classics. Still haven’t read them all, but at least I’m as cultured now as Camembert cheese. Well, almost.

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