Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cool books for dog days reading

July 26, 2007

It's summer, and it's hot. Places where the air conditioning borders on freezing become my natural habitat. Since it's not cool to hang out in the freezer section of your local supermarket and you get tired of hibernating at home, I find that bookstores are great places to indulge my favorite pastime as well as beat the famous Kansas heat.

Each summer I list books that I think make good summer reads -- fun stuff to throw in your bag to take on vacation or to the lake. There are always those who say they never read fiction, which I think is a shame because there is nothing more fun than a trip down fantasy lane.

Speaking of fantasy, I must mention the reading frenzy that consumed readers this past week when the last of the Harry Potter books arrived in book stores all over the world. Fans, dressed like characters in the book, waited in long lines to get their copy of the last in the series titled, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows." I spotted three adults in the coffee shop this morning reading their copy and all were older than 40. I confess, I have not read any in the series, but I have read reviews and this one has gotten good ones. One reviewer mentioned that as Harry and his buddies have grown up through the series so have his readers. This last book marks the wistful passage of adolescence to adulthood. Perhaps I'll read this one as I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories.

Fun stuff I have been reading: Daniel Silva is one of my favorite cloak and dagger authors whose main character -- an art restorer who doubles as an Israeli undercover hit man -- continues to hold my interest. I just finished "The Messenger" which I think is book seven in the series.

Other mysteries that I have read or am reading now include "At Risk" by Stella Rimington, another spy story by a woman who in real life was the "former head of Britain's M15" secret intelligence bureau. Others are "Silence of the Grave" by Arnaldur Indridason, a new author (at least new to me) from Iceland, and "Stalin's Ghost" by Martin Cruz Smith, who also wrote "Gorky Park."

Moving from fiction, I thoroughly enjoyed Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird," a book on how to write complete with her famous funny examples and witticisms. Getting serious, I also have a copy of the new book titled, "A Book of Hours," which is a compilation of Thomas Merton's thoughts for savoring the sacred in each day with prayers for dawn, midday and dusk.

Back to fun -- my daughters have discovered author Mary Kay Andrews, who has created a thoroughly modern Southern belle. She is a hilarious character named, "Weezie" who is a wise cracking, antique collector recently divorced and living in the coach house of her former home where her ex and his new wife are now living. When the wife turns up dead and Weezie is in the vicinity, the fun begins. "Savannah Blues" and "Savannah Breeze" are both set in -- you guessed it -- Savannah and the plot revolves around Weezie and a group of her off-beat friends. In this case murder can be fun. A visit to Andrews' Web site discovered her real name is Kathy Hogan Trocheck, author of another mystery series, She herself is a true Southern belle who as she says, "likes sweet tea, cheese grits, pimento chest and quirky relatives."

My husband is a non-fiction, serious reader and has some suggestions for those poor souls who don't really get a kick out of exploring the fantasies of others in fiction. He recently finished "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan, which is the "untold story of those who survived the great American Dust Bowl." Ugh, I can almost feel the dirt in my teeth after just reading the dust jacket. He also recommends "The Brothers -- the Hidden History of the Kennedy Years" by David Talbot," and "River of Doubt" a story of "Teddy Roosevelt's darkest journey" by Candice Millard and "Dreams from my Father" the autobiography of Barack Obama.

Now keep cool, read a book, and I'll see you at the CPA picnic this weekend.

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