02 September 2011

Summer Reading Recap

Can you believe it?  Summer is quickly drawing to a close - it's the last day in August, most of the kids have returned to school (or will be soon), football is almost back....where did lazy days by the pool go?  If you are like me, you had an ambitious summer reading list. Personally, my goal was twenty  books in thirteen weeks. Lofty but doable, even with two young children.

I set my "finish line" at Labor Day, which is fast approaching. Technically, I have just over five full days left, and three and a half books to go. Yikes!  I can make it, though. I'm over halfway finished with The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which is a delight to read.  The remaining books on my list seem promising as well.

Someone asked me yesterday what my favorite books from my summer list have been.  Well, that's a tough question!  I tried narrowing it down to two, but that proved difficult. So today I'll just share my first two favorites, and then next week I'll share another two that I loved.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness was absolutely delightful. So great, in fact, I've actually checked it back out of the library to re-read, even though I just finished it a couple of weeks ago. Harkness combined witches, vampires, demons, history, and romance in her debut novel (a quick read despite its 592-page length).  Harkness also manages to produce an interesting discussion on the origin story of each type of creature, and what it means to the individuals to actually understand their beginnings and where their power comes from.  This book really does have a bit of everything - good vs. evil, science vs. magic, desire vs. conformity.  It's a fantastic read!  I won't share any spoilers or recap it for you - I'll save that for another post.

My second summer favorite is an older novel, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Originally published at 384 pages in early 2008,  it's the story of an Australian rare book conservator, invited to report on the condition of the centuries-old Sarajevo Haggadah.  While the book itself (the Haggadah) is real, the story Brooks wrote is mostly fictional.  She seamlessly weaved a history of the book's journey from its original artist to its present location.  Readers follow the small pieces of evidence uncovered about the book back in time, and witness how and why the book was made. I read this novel in one sitting: it's that engrossing. Brooks created not only a moving journey  through time, but a great narrative of the human story - suffering, tragedy, perseverance, and the ability to overcome.

How is your summer reading list progressing?  Have you finished? What are some of your "best of the list" titles?  I'd love to hear some - leave a comment below!

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