Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Library Summer Reading

June started and I started kicking through books. I don't really know how the amount of books I read in a summer compares to the amount of books other Clifton Branch adult library users read, but I always like a little bit of academic competition. So nevermind that I'm now working full-time OR that I started taking two Library Science classes OR that I'm teaching OR that I do like to do other things besides reading. I had a fanciful goal of reading an average of a book a day. Ha! Easy peasy, well until this weekend. I just have to say thank goodness Madeleine L'Engle wrote some kids books too. It's saved me.

Thus far it is June 21st and I have read 18 books. They are...

Meet the Austins (L'Engle) The beginning book in the Chronos series. We meet John, Suzy, Rob and most importantly Vicky, who will compete and pretty much always win for most beloved L'Engle character.

A Wrinkle in Time (L'Engle) The classic L'Engle book. If you've read anything, you've read this. We meet Meg, Calvin, Charles Wallace (LOVE). It's the beginning of the Time Quartet or the Kairos series. I love this book more and more each time I read it, but interesting tidbit--it totally went over my head when I read it in 5th grade. L'Engle has this propensity to have very slow rising action and very quick falling action. So you hit the climax with like 15, 10, 2 pages and then you're done. It's disorienting. And A Wrinkle in Time is the quintessential example.

Blood + Water A graphic novel. (Also a lovely way to quickly amass books read.) This guy's vampire friends turn him into a vampire because he's dying from Hepatitis (like all of them--it's weird), but they didn't realize that their vampire instincts that told them not to turn him when he was healthy were to prevent hell demons from being raised up. Super crazy. Super vampire fun. Though NSFW or young children.

Moonraker (James Bond). <3 I think this is the book that will make me love the series. You see James Bond in the office going about life and he does a favor for M and chaos ensues. It's really cool to see these classic pieces of spy thrillers get used for the first time.

The Moon by Night (L'Engle) The second in the Chronos series, but not really my favorite. I love the cross country road trip, but I'm not really a big Zachary Grey fan and I don't like who Vicky becomes when she's around him.

The Twenty-Four Days before Christmas (L'Engle) It's a vignette of the time around Rob's birth. (Interesting tidbit: Rob's name changes from Robert to Robin. It's really weird.) Mostly I like it because it reminds me of my favorite Christmas story The Perfect Christmas Tree.

The Arm of the Starfish (L'Engle) This is one of my favorite L'Engle books. I love the political intrigue. I love my first introduction to Canon Tallis (who has been described as M L'E's version of James Bond). I love Poly before she changes her name to Polly. I really love Adam and the dolphins.

Diamonds are Forever (Bond) While it was no Moonraker, this was a lovely James Bond. He's back in America--New York, Vegas--a girl he might actually stay with. And the theme song to the movie is catchy.

Bossypants (Tina Fey) I love Tina Fey, but this might have been a book better in audiobook--if she's the one who reads it. The Sarah Palin part was the best. In all other respects, I liked Tim Gunn's and Kristen Chenoweth's autobio's better.

From Russia with Love (Bond) I vaguely remembered reading this one when I first decided to read James Bond four years ago. And that familiarity helped. I liked the Russian element. It reminded me of Alias. Also the same doorstops-under-the-train-compartment-doors trick was just recommended in a travel blog. Still works.

Mountains of the Pharoahs Mike got free tickets to see Zahi Hawass the, like, head archaeologist in Egypt. So I looked up some of his publications and this is what was available. It's hard when most of my Egyptology comes from The Ten Commandments (which is really wrong evidently), so I learned a lot, but I'm not sure how much I've retained. However, I felt pretty secure in knowing what he was talking about during his lecture. I should devote another blog post to my reactions to him.

The Love Letters (L'Engle) This was a new one for me. A woman fleeing from her husband goes to his mother-in-law's villa in Portugal (it makes more sense than you think). There she comes upon the letters of a Portuguese nun from the 18th century who has fallen in love with a French soldier--sadly he's a rogue. The story blends from "modern" time to past as the woman comes to terms with her own love and hardships that come with it.

Dr. No (Bond) Ah the original Dr. Evil. Yay! He's deliciously bad. Secret liars. Quarrel. Honeychild. Lots of good classic Bond.

The Young Unicorns (L'Engle) The third in the Chronos series, Vicky and the rest of the family are in New York. It's been a hard adjustment, but there's an underground plot that threatens to destabilize the whole city. Here one of L'Engle's recurring themes became clear to me--how evil masquerades as good and the difficulty in determining which is which.

Dance in the Desert (L'Engle) Another little vignette, this time of Mary, Joseph and toddler Jesus crossing the desert to Egypt. While gathered another the evening fires, the toddle Jesus is approached by the various (dangerous) wildlife of the desert who submit to him and dance with him. It's L'Engle's first blatantly Christian work. More of the desert creatures will be seen in Many Waters.

Imagining Niagara In light of The Art of Pilgrimage, I found a book on the history of Niagara Falls as seen through four distinct themes--The Distant, Death, Nature and the Future. Last week, we took a mini-break to visit the Falls and Canada and I wanted to absorb some of the history that makes it famous. Of note, it's actually a pilgrimage site as declared by the Vatican, so it really did fit. While Niagara wasn't an incredibly spiritual experience for me personally, I did appreciate reading about it to help filter through some of the commercialism that plagues the cities on either side of the river.

The Other Side of the Sun (L'Engle) We're plunged back into the South, with some pretty tricky timing issues. I think the framer story with an ancient Stella is 1960s. When Stella first visits Illyria is 1910s, maybe 1900s (must be before the Great War because they don't talk about it at all). And the history she learns about is 1860s/1870s right around and after the Civil War. It's hard with no set dates and a very bad grasp of fin de siecle history. However, again we have a woman, possibly pregnant, separated from her husband, forced into a battle of right and wrong, good and evil. L'Engle I am learning likes this transitory period perhaps because it forces the character into a timeless period of waiting, danger, and the begin of life. It's in The Love Letters; it will be there in A Swiftly Tilting Planet. So I'm interested to see where else it turns up.

And there we go. We've caught up on 3 weeks of book reading. Up next, I'm turning to Harry Potter. The final movie comes out July 15th and I will be prepared. Some L'Engle and probably one more Bond will show up. That would put me halfway through Bond, and I'm roughly a 1/4 of the way through L'Engle's work. It's shocking to think I may actually complete my decidedly ambitious reading goals.