July is my official summer vaycay month. June is tying up school and August starts it back up. July is my uninterrupted month of focusing on just relaxing in my hammock and reading. I do other activities besides immersing myself in books, but, yeah, I do read an enormous amount in July. This July I was fortunate enough to find a bevy of five star books.
Shakespeare After All by Marjorie Garber
While it might be easy to say, “Yet another Shakespeare reference?” This is THE reference book (and I have read more than a few) to keep handy. Garber’s book stands out among the crowd of reference books that examine Shakespeare’s plays. Her knowledge and insights are stunning. She is able to reveal plot details with subtlety and aplomb. She easily interjects historical allusions and intertextuality. Oh, to sit in on one of her lectures.
The Promise by Chaim Potok
Sequel to Potok’s stunning debut, The Chosen, the novel centers on Reuven Malter’s struggles with his religion and relationships as he strives towards completing his education. Can he bridge the two worlds he has chosen: philosophy and the study of the Talmud? His experiences and insights will help help him with a troubled young boy who is on the verge of isolating himself from the world.
The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green
Readers of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot be sure to check this possible inspiration for these famous sleuths. Written nearly a decade before Conan Doyle created his Baker Street detective, Anna Katherine Green penned into existence Detective Grace of the New York Police Department. He featured in many stories and his appeal boosted the author into being acclaimed one of the most popular authors of the 19th century. Many would say she led the way for detective stories as they are now known. I nudged Acorn to get this (and her other books) made into a series.
Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff
Rosemary Sutcliff has stated in an interview that she writes not for children nor for adults—she writes to tell a story.
This story of Roman Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila is one that combines adventure, history, and the theme of identity.
Well-researched and even better-paced, the story of redeeming family honor and discovering one’s identity inspired a movie. And this is an inspiring story. While most stories about Romans emphasize their brutality, Sutcliff provides a story that emphasizes the perspective that an individual does not have to conform to expectations of community credo, that a person can be trained and be an efficient member of a community, yet still hold individualistic ideals.
Recommended for ages 8 years and beyond, since a well-written story is always appreciated. Some of by favorite stories during this Reading Challenge have come off the juvie shelves. There is a movie with Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell; however, as always, the book is far better.
The Wind off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart
Under 100 pages this barely qualifies as a novella, and serves as a taste for what could have been as engaging as The Moonspinners. Stewart starts out the story with the beginnings of an old-fashioned historical romance which abruptly ends and leads readers into a modern setting of a children’s author and her assistant exploring an exotic setting for the author’s next book.
The short adventure is ripe with all of Stewart’s usual trademarks: expansive setting, lively dialogue, stock characters—including a damsel in distress saved by the likable hero, and a touch of the supernatural.
So fun, yet so short.
An Old Captivity by Nevil Shute
It’s hard to go wrong with a Nevil Shute. He is one of those rare writers that can interject technical details, like what it takes to fly three people on a photo expedition to Greenland, and not be boring. The details are such an integral part of the story they function like an added character.
In this story, Shute focuses on a professor, his daughter, and a pilot as they make their way to Iceland and Greenland. Doesn’t sound exciting, does it? Shute provides interest through his exacting detail, setting, and then adds a twist at the end that rings of a Du Maurier with realistic fantasy.
A satisfying and surprising read. And the title? Wait for it. The ending made me sit up and get that epiphany of “Oh, I get it now.”
Hope one of these, or maybe all of these titles, interest you. How about you? Any five star summer reads of note to pass on to the rest of us Book Boosters?