Monday, July 30, 2007

summer reading list

I decided to do the summer reading program at the library, partly in hopes of winning an ipod, and partly because I would have read most of these books anyway. I had to push a little to read 10 books in between May 21 and July 28 (each book log - each entry for the ipod drawing - had to have five books on it) but I managed to finish the last one Thursday night. For my book logs I only had to list the books and whether I would recommend them (I recommended all but one), but you all get the extended version ...
  • The Light on the Island by Helene Glidden. This is my mom's favorite book from her growing-up years; it was out of print for ages but she finally got a copy a few months ago. She kindly lent it to me when I was last in Pennsylvania and I finished the book shortly after returning to the Bend. It's about a girl whose family lives on an island off the coast of Oregon - her father is the lighthouse keeper - no one else lives on the island but her family (well except this one guy ... just read it...). The book is mostly picaresque and the stories in it are fascinating - I could immediately see why they stayed in my mom's head and heart for so long - Glidden tells them so well that they start to feel like your own family memories.
  • Walden Two by B.F. Skinner. A reread from AP Psychology in high school. Interesting portrait of a fictional "utopian" community (or commune) and some intriguing ideas on freedom and control. A good read, not necessarily something to get excited about and try to copy in real life ...
  • Chocolate Beach was so not worth it that I don't even feel like searching for the author's name. This was in the "Christian women's fiction" category at the library, which is usually light, fun, harmless stuff with some worthwhile ideas scattered through - but this one harmed my brain and there was absolutely nothing worthwhile about it. Unless I win the ipod.
  • The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu was quality literature and washed my brain out after reading that Chocolate Beach thing. About an African immigrant in Washington, D.C. Sad but absolutely beautiful.
  • A Room With a View by E.M. Forster was scathingly funny. Hooray for classics :)
  • Emma by Jane Austen. Hadn't read it since high school, what fun it was to read it again! Ever since a college essay on Pride and Prejudice I've taken special notice, when reading Austen, of the sneaky ways that she describes her characters - if you read closely enough you can tell right away what kind of person the character will turn out to be.
  • Nectar in a Sieve by Kamala Markandaya. A small novel about a woman's life in India as the times change and she is left behind. Depressed me more than The Grapes of Wrath, which however is an all-time favorite ... if you can handle the sadness, it's a good read.
  • The Preacher's Daughter by Beverly Lewis. I have a weakness for Lewis' novels, which are all about Amish women ... in every one of them, somebody becomes Amish or leaves the Amish for the Mennonite church because they've come to know the Lord. I am only half-joking, though, when I refer to these books as "Amish romance novels."
  • Blue Shoes and Happiness and The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, both by Alexander McCall Smith, from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Fun and easy reads, but still pretty well-written stories with very decent characters. I was intro'd to this series by Pat R. who had our WG celebrate her birthday by watching a travel video about Botswana.
So what have you read this summer?

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