by Anne Batty
“The best of a book is not the thought which it contains, but the thought which it suggests; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Whether you read for knowledge, enjoyment, escape, or just to pass the time away … in the lazy days of summer there’s nothing like settling on the sand, relaxing to the seas’ ebb and flow, and losing oneself in a good read. Be it mystery, history, spiritual growth, self-help, romance, or biography, whatever your personal choice, take time out this summer to read that book you’ve been promising yourself you’d get around to. As a freelance editor/writer, and member of a book club, I spend a great deal of time reading. The following are just a smattering of books I have read this year. Perhaps you, too, might find them interesting, informative and/or just entertaining. Enjoy!
HISTORY/MYSTERY - Fiction
Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
BBC’s television and radio broadcaster and author Kate Mosse has written a well-researched historical mystery set in both contemporary and 13th century France. In the manner of the Da Vinci Code, this novel also features the pursuit of the Grail, as well as a ring inscribed with a labyrinth that will identify the guardian of the Grail. A page-turning read, this story features two intrepid heroines. One from the 21st Century, whose search is illuminated by her sense of the past … intertwined with the other … her ancestress from the 13th Century, whose own tragic story is part of the romance of this intriguing tale.
(Mosse’s latest time slip adventure Sepulchre is scheduled for release this summer.)
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – Non-Fiction
Honeymoon with My Brother by Franz Wisner
Dumped and in a daze just days before his wedding, writer/vagabond Franz Wisner decided to celebrate anyway … just without a bride. Along with his brother, Kurt, and friends, (sans flowers, cake and champagne) he makes merry with beer and promises not to get carried over any threshold. After the festivities, he and his brother take off on the pre-planned Costa Rican honeymoon. Before long they decide they’re having too much fun, quit their jobs, sell their homes and continue the honeymoon for two more years, visiting over 53 countries. A fun-filled odyssey, this is an exciting tale of two brothers, and the ups and downs of traveling together all over the world.
CULTURAL HISTORY – Fiction
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See
Authoress Lisa See says she has always been intrigued by stories that have been lost, forgotten, or deliberately covered up … whether in the past or happening right now in the world today. For Snow Flower, she traveled to a remote area of China (as only the second foreigner to ever visit there) to research the secret writing invented, used and kept secret by women for over a thousand years. Her story takes place in 19th century China during the time when girls had their feet bound,then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window connecting them to the outside world. Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, there were women who defied the circumstances, developing their own secret code, nu shu – “women’s writing” – the only gender-based written language ever to be found in the world. In the manner of Anita Diamont’s novel the Red Tent, Snow Flower is a story of the ways women bond, discovering ways to survive during times of trial and oppression.
(Lisa See’s latest novel Peony in Love takes readers back to 17th century China on a journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow.)
A MEMOIR – Non-Fiction
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A regular contributor to MSNBC, Jeannette Walls has written a memoir that, like authors Mary Karr and Frank McCourt, has transformed sad memories into fine art. This is the story of children raised by brilliant, charismatic, free-spirited, but extremely dysfunctional parents. In spite of an upbringing spent in abject poverty, the children found ways to feed clothe and protect one another, eventually wending their way out of the dark into the light, to obtain educations and live successfully in New York. Yet, in spite the children’s success, the parents chose to continue living a life of poverty and homelessness. This is a book that affirms one’s faith in the resilience of the human spirit.
HUMANITARIAN ACHIEVEMENT – Non-Fiction
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
In 1993 a mountaineer named Greg Mortenson drifted into an impoverished Pakistan village in the Karakoram mountains, after a failed attempt to climb K2. This is the story of how he promised the friendly inhabitants there that he would one day return to build a school. It is a tale of his struggle to raise monies, import materials, and avoid topical perils and feared aggressions from the Taliban, in order to accomplish his goal. A man committed to the philosophy that wars can be prevented by education and knowledge, Mortenson and his family have made, and continue making, many sacrifices to follow that ideal. As a result he has built not one, but 55 schools (especially for the girls whom he feels do not get the proper opportunity for education in this 3rd world country), and continues building more today. This is a book that leaves one thinking about what can be done to make this world a better place in which to live. b