Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Reading

Heaven Can Wait Books

Warm weather invites us to spend more time outdoors and most people read a little less in Summer than they usually do when days are shorter and much colder, but no book lover can spend the whole day running, swimming or playing tennis without a guilt. Sooner or later a book is taken from the shelf and the rest of the world is forgotten...

As always my reading list is quite eclectic. It consists of books old and new, serious and entertaining, easy to read and those that provoke a reflection.

Like most Dan Brown's readers I was overjoyed when his latest book, the Inferno finally appeared in print. And I am very eager to find out what kind of hell the Harvard symbology professor, Robert Langdon, has to deal with this time. I am even more intrigued since Dante's mysterious masterpiece Inferno is my absolutely favorite literary work of all times. 

While waiting for my plane in Denver I found a very strange, illustrated book at Hudson's. I must say that I was as much intrigued by its cover as I was by its title: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The author is new to me. He sets his story on a mysterious island off the coast of Wales. His protagonist, the sixteen-year-old Jacob, is on a journey on this island, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As he explores this abandoned building, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on this deserted island for a very good reason. They may even still be alive. 

A very different, but not less promising adventure offers Dai Sijie's little literary jewel Once on a Moonless Night. I loved his first book Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and will definitely enjoy this one. A story begins when a precious scroll inscribed with a lost Buddhist sutra once owned by the last emperor of China, Pu Yi, is illicitly sold to an eccentric French linguist, Paul d’Ampere. Things get complicated when the Frenchman is imprisoned as a result of this transaction. In jail, he devotes himself to studying its ancient text. The book is full of stories within stories as Dai Sijie takes the reader on a journey through time and space. 

Summer it time of travel and adventure. What if a book could take to Paris even if you preferred to remain safely on your porch? The celebrated pastry chef Daniel Lebovitz promises just that. Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood. But sooner than he could even think he discovered that things were very different in France. The Sweet Life in Paris is his fifth book. The book is full of stories that are not always as sweet as his recipes. But the world belongs to the brave! Unless one dares to make a radical step, one may never experience anything extraordinary. 

 The events of recent months did not leave a stone or rather an e-mail account unturned. Many people are deeply concerned with the state of the nation. Can personal freedoms be upheld in the age of distrust? Is this even possible? Or necessary? 

Did America reached a point of no return? What exactly happened and when that such breech of trust was even possible in the country of the free. Leonard Peikoff can help you ponder upon this delicate, but important question. According to Amazon, in his brilliantly reasoned and thought-provoking book The Ominous Parallels, Peikoff demonstrates how far America has been detoured from its original path and led down the same road that Germany followed to Nazism. Self-sacrifice, Oriental mysticism, racial truth, the public good, doing one's duty - these are among the seductive catch-phrases that Leonard Peikoff dissects, examining the kind of philosophy they symbolize. Here is a frightening look at where America may be heading, a clarion call for all who are concerned about preserving our right to individual freedom.

Another warning comes from a British author Mark Steyn who currently lives in America. Steyn is an intelligent author who brings his European experience and a deep understanding of international and intercultural contexts into his well written books. Lights out is a wake up call that cannot be disregarded or the West will end up like the nightmarish utopias of Kratman and Dantec. But there is always hope. Hope that civilized people wish to live in dignity.

No matter what books you pick up this summer, read, read, read! 

By Dominique Allmon


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