Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Reading

By Vicki Delany
Image result for summer reading cartoonWe're moving into late summer now. Here in Southern Ontario, basically we haven’t had one. I am a heat-freak and this summer has been anything but.  Rain upon rain upon rain and otherwise generally cool and cloudy.  Not a single day with temps above 30.  (Sad face here).

Nothing I like more than to sit in the sun by the pool with my book while everyone else huddles inside with the air conditioning.  Everyone but my mom. I definitely take after her.

Product DetailsAnyway, nothing I can do about it, is there? So I haven’t done as much reading this year as I usually do. See above about sitting in the sun etc.

But what summer reading I have done has generally been good. I have never been one for a so-called beach read. When I have the time to really get into a book, I like something big and thick and complex and fascinating.

I noticed that John had one of the books I am going to recommend on his list.  The Sympathiser by Viet-Thanh-Nguyen is all of the above: big and thick and complex and fascinating. Set partially in Vietnam but mostly in the US after the end of what the Vietnamese call the American War, it’s an examination of the Vietnamese experience in the States and a look at the war through ‘the other sides’ eyes.  As you know, I went to Vietnam last year and loved it, and I’m now enjoying learning more about the country and its people.

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train. I liked Train very much, this one was good but not as good, in my mind, but still an examination of the complex lives of women and girls and the dangers they face within and without. One thing I have started noticing lately is that in a lot of modern psychological suspense books there are a very large number of POV characters, sometimes even to the point of there not actually being an identifiable protagonist. You’d be hard pressed to say in Into the Water who the protagonist is. Done well, that works. Done badly, it creates a mess of a book. I’d say it works in Into the Water.

Product DetailsAbout Sixty edited by Christopher Redmond.  I am not a Sherlockian, but I do write the Sherlock Holmes Bookshop mysteries, and every book sold in that fictional bookshop is real. I don’t claim to have read them all, but this one appealed to me. There are sixty novels and stories in the original Holmes canon. In About Sixty, a Sherlockian picks one of the sixty and argues as to why it is his or her favourite. It provided a great reminder to me of the stories and an overview of the entire canon.

The Break by [Vermette, Katherena]The Break by Katherena Vermette. A tale of an indigenous family and community in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  A woman witnesses a crime and calls the police. All the people involved then tell their stories, both leading up to the crime and in the aftermath. In this case I thought the multiple POV and lack of an identifiable protagonist didn’t work.  I had no one to hang my hat on, so to speak, and some trouble keeping track of the characters. Still, I enjoyed it for the insight into the lives of the characters and their often difficult world.  Not for the faint-of-heart and definitely not for anyone who doesn't like bad language.  Almost none of the characters can finish a sentence without a swear word. Sometimes several. 

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On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder.  Not big and thick, but very small, this book was written very quickly at the end of 2016.  We are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism.  Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience

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And, because every once in a while, you need light and funny. Caramel Crush by Jenn McKinlay. Who provides just that: light and funny in a classically-styled cozy.


Donis Casey said...

More books to pile on my TBR pile! I think Jenn McKinlay is at the top of the cozy writer pile, along with your own sweet self, of course. As an aside, if you're in the mood for heat, come on down!

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

I have the new Paula Hawkins book on my list to try. I led a book discussion of Girl on the Train, and I'm scheduled to do again this month. Did you see the movie? I haven't and wondering if I should get a copy.

Vicki Delany said...

Frankie, I didn't see the movie, but I rarely see any.

Donis: I'd love to. I'm going to BC in two weeks for my daughter's wedding and they're having quite the heat wave out there.