Monday, July 9, 2012

What to Read This Summer

Every year when summer comes and I seem to have more time to read I usually divide my reading time to two reading blocks: mornings are reserved for books that I bought some time ago, but did not have time to read. Afternoons are reserved for the books that just appeared on the market. This is a strange habit, but like most book lovers I manage to buy more books than I can actually read. 

The must-read books are arranged in two piles: the newly published on the left, the long time due on the right. I alternate between the two piles with a quiet hope that by the end of September all the books are back on their shelves. I must admit, with pride, that I usually manage to shrink the two piles considerably. This is only possible because I egoistically guard my reading space-time. 

One of the long-time-due books is a book I bought quite a while ago, but simply forgot that I have it in my library: Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk. This seems to be an interesting story with a mysterious twist. 

The Angel's Game by Carlos Riuz Gafon gathered too much dust on the shelf. It seems to be a page turner that would keep me busy for the whole morning. No e-mails. No phone calls. That much is sure.

I have not yet visited Monticello, but I will take the trip with Kevin J. Hayes who wrote The Road to Monticello. Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite American presidents and this book seems to be a great introduction to the life and mind of that remarkable man. 

The Harvard Psychedelic Club seems like a fun read.  This  is a story of three brilliant scholars and one ambitious freshman who crossed paths in the early sixties at a Harvard-sponsored psychedelic-drug research project. These men managed to transform their lives and the entire American culture launching the mind-body-spirit movement that inspired virtual explosion of yoga, organic farming, and alternative medicine. I wonder if the book gives an answer to the urgent question whether marihuana should be legalized. I personally do not care, but the solution to this problem has so many implications.

There are few more books that I still have to read and quite a few that I would like to read again. But the growing pile of the newly published or newly acquired books is just as tempting. 

Having spent few years in Vienna during the Cold War I always loved a good spy novel. We are living in a different times now, but the genre is still alive. My latest discovery is the Istanbul Passage by Joseph Canon. I cannot wait to lay my hands on it!

A long awaited Third Gate by Lincoln Child will keep me awake on weekend. I know that for sure. My husband has already read it...

I love honey and simply cannot imagine a world without it. Elisabeth Graver  wrote a little marvel for all honey lovers. Her first novel The Honey Thief is a literary sensation. 

I bought a book that I was, at first, reluctant to read: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana. I heard a lot about it and finally decided to read it.

Do you remember Contact by Carl Sagan? Now, imagine, it is an established fact that we are not alone in the Universe, but you are the last person to learn about it. What are you going to do? Authors Richard and Bryce Zabel have all the answers in their collaboration A.D. After Disclosure: When the Government Finally Reveals the Truth About Alien Contact. This is a must read! Better to be prepared than sorry. 

With four months left until the presidential elections in the USA political books are weighting heavily in my to-read book pile.  Many political analysts believe that 2012 elections will be the most important presidential elections ever. The voters still have to learn to know the Republican candidate Mitt Romney. His book No Apology: Believe in America gives a good glance into Romney's political mind. 

Most people believe that, by now, they know very well who the incumbent is, but President Obama is not as transparent as one may think. The President's own Dreams from My Father is full of reflections and reminiscences. Unfortunately, some characters in this book are not individuals Mr Obama met in his life, but composite characters - or people he wish he met. Many stories are invented to make the point rather than the actual experiences of a young man. Mr Obama admitted this in interviews after the book was published, but it makes you wonder. Who is President Obma? A new biography Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss may help us discover the person behind the Office. An absolute must read book!
I will also go back, over and over, to a wonderfully thorough Roots of Obama's Rage by Dinesh D'Souza.

My last visit to Barnes & Noble bookstore ended with a purchase of two very different and completely unrelated books. An intriguing title and an orange tabby on a guy's shoulder caught my eyes simply because we have an orange tabby who is quite a cat. Jackson Galaxy who appears to be the owner of an orange cat wrote a book Cat Daddy: What the World's Most Incorrigible Cat Thought Me Life, Love, and Coming Clean. Our Agent Orange is quite incorrigible himself and I hope to learn something about life with cats from this intriguing book. 

I grew up in a large city and do not know much about gardening. Every spring I give it a try, though. Herbs, edible flowers, tomatoes, hot peppers are rather easy to grow. The harvest is a pure joy! I could not resist a quick pick into the gardening section of Barnes & Noble. I spent there more than an hour browsing till I finally found a wonderful book by a master gardener Willi Galloway Grow Cook Eat. And since I am at it, I must finish a marvel of a book that I bought at the airport in Denver: Baking Cakes in Kigali. It's a wonderfully written tale, a book you wish did not have the last page.

There are many more books that I want to read this summer. I will probably buy few more books that are worth reading and simply keep the on a to-read-pile until their turn comes. Like most people who love books I will forever keep my eye on new publications...

I hope that my eclectic selection inspired my readers to create their own reading lists. Each book opens a door to a new mysterious universe. May you be satisfied only after you discovered all that is hidden behind it.

Dominique Allmon 

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