What I’m Reading

8/24/10 Great novel I recently picked up for the quirky title, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It is written entirely in letters during 1946-47 following WWII. It is a wonderful mix of humor, quirky and moving characters, of lostness and foundness, and the recounting of a terrible moment in history in a very human and redemptive way (as much as atrocity can be, at least). Also during our UK trip I read 2 more of Rhys Bowen’s series, and more Sherlock Holmes. Also reading through a lot of the guidebooks and short histories I picked up traveling including a hilarious series published by Scholastic-UK Publishers called Dead Famous. Currently reading about Boudica. Who would have thought history and British humor could be such compatible bedfellows? Oh, yeah! Monty Python.

7/1/10 For Mother’s Day I got a Nook, which I thought as a died-in-the-wool bibliophile I could merely tolerate for the sake of not having to carry a suitcase of books for our U.K trip this summer. Boy, was I ever wrong. At my finger tips I am reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, The Art of War, classics I should have read but never have like The Complete Sherlock Holmes and Alice in Wonderland, while revisiting favorites like Jane Austen’s Persuasion and The Canterbury Tales, all depending on my mood at the moment. For sheer fun I’ve read The Scarlet Pimpernel and its sequels, as well as a humorous mystery by Rhys Bowen Her Royal Spyness. And my entire library fits in my purse. Sadly none of the Harry Potter books are digital, undoubtedly at Rowling and possibly Scholastic’s insistence. Bah! Humbug!

The most surprising read of the bunch is Sun Tzu’s Art of War. It is immeasurably readable and for those of the less bloodthirsty persuasion, a remarkable guide to strategic and pragmatic thinking. He even provides a few laughs along the way (probably unintended) by stating the obvious (but often overlooked for its obviousness and calling attention to the smallest details including hygiene and the pitfalls of answering to an emperor.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is similar with a light, clear, flowing style. No wonder it was used as the 19th-century American’s guide for how to get ahead. The ending comes abruptly (he left it unfinished), but especially for a Philadelphian it is a fascinating read.

1/21/09 I just finished reading a five-novel mystery series by Anne Perry, which takes place between 1914-18 amidst World War I. The series is less mystery and more character study, following a central cast of characters through the conflict, particularly priest turned professor turned army chaplain Joseph Reavley. The psychological exploration of grief, loss, and faith among such cataclysmic conditions is compelling and multi-faceted and definitely worth the read, however the plotting of the mysteries is uneven and at times sloppy, with multiple contradictions from one novel to the next in the overarching mystery that ties the novels together: the identity of the Peacemaker, who arranged the murder of John and Alys Reavley, and ignited a conspiracy of treachery against Britain’s interests during the war. The first novel is No Graves As Yet. If you aren’t a stickler for the details and can enjoy it for what it does well, I recommend the series.

2/7/09 I am reading Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series. I’d never read Card before and wanted to expand my fantasy reading to see the range of what is out there and picked up Seventh Son for fifty cents in a library book sale. The American post-colonial period is unique, and it reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Dark Tower for its uniquely American roots and themes, but it’s protagonist is more engaging, and its critique harsher. I am only starting book 2, but so far I am glad I stumbled across these novels.

Addendum: I found the Alvin Maker series uneven, but still worth the read and one of the more unique in the fantasy-scifi genre. I also went on to read all the published novels and short stories in the Ender Wiggin series, including the branch of novels centering on the character Bean. I personally found the “Bean” novels more moving, challenging, consistent and hard to put down. Ender’s stories are too detached and cerebral to inspire my affection, while Bean’s engage the heart and the mind equally. Still Ender is a compelling and complex character, especially as an older man. Card, like the best scifi writers, challenges us with common and not so common moral dilemmas in all their many shades of white, black, gray and living color.

Responses

  1. O.S. Card is a good read. His Ender series runs on several levels at once.
    Enjoy!


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