Mostly fiction makes list of summer books to be read
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:28AM
With school officially over, I, like many other out there, have Great Expectations for the summer. Fortunately for me, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is one of my book club selections for next season and it is a novel I have read several times over and will happily do so again. The book club has assigned a companion piece entitled The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford, a nonfiction look at Charles Dickens and how “A Christmas Carol rescued his career” according to the book’s cover. This should be quite interesting.
This is the same book club, by the way, which had the foresight to list A Paris Wife by Paula McLain—the “fictional” account of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage—and also to recommend reading Hemingway’s own A Moveable Feast, which is in part his own memoir of that marriage. The Hemingway work, not surprisingly, is better written and more interesting, though perhaps no more factual.
I suppose Hemingway had Great Expectations of all four of his marriages, but no one ever accused him of being a fan of Charles Dickens. The wonderful thing about Great Expectations is the intricate and suspenseful plotting and character development for which Charles Dickens is known.
Anyone who has ever read one or even two of John Irving’s novels must acknowledge the same twists of plotting and character. Just last month Irving’s latest In One Person was released. As an unabashed John Irving fan, I buy his books in hardcover regardless of the reviews, and though the reviews of this decidedly bizarre and obviously provocative work which examines the life of a bisexual man in a state of reflection and search to be worthwhile. I don’t know that this one will top my to-be-read pile, but I always recommend The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany as two of Irving’s finest works, though The W orld According to Garp has the greater name recognition.
A Pr ayer for Owen Meany has made a banned-book list, one which is published for English 2 perusal at Hinsdale Central. Amazingly, among the hundred or so books are works by Toni Morrison, the Nobel Prize winning author of Beloved, The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon — the latter two of which made the list. Morrison recently published her latest novel Home to fairly good reviews. It is the story of a Korean War veteran who returns home finding he has to care for a suffering sister and over time both he and she heal.
Hilary Mantel’s novel Bring Up the Bodies: A Novel follows her 2009 Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, a nearly 600-page work of historical fiction set in the 1500s and the reign of King Henry VIII. Bring Up the Bodies has been as well received and continues the story where Wolf Hall left off, picking up as King Henry VIII is disillusioned with Anne Boleyn and wants to divorce her in favor of Jane Seymour.
Along lighter lines but still having some literary structure and backbone is Snobs: A Novel of Modern Manners by Julian Fellowes. This one came highly recommended to me by a voracious and eclectic reader who was looking for something fun but not necessarily featuring shades of gray or elementary school prose. Fellowes is the writer for the Emmy Award-winning and practically cult-status television show “Downton Abbey,” so this novel which looks at the supposedly classless society in Great Britain is sure to be an entertaining read.
When The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy was released earlier this year, my mind whirred. This is Roy’s second novel — her first was An Atlas of Impossible Longing: A Novel, but I had her confused with Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things, a Man Booker prize-winning novel which was published in 1997 to extreme controversy while our family was living in India. The Folded Earth is a by a different Indian novelist and is set in the northern part of India instead of the southern part like The God of Small Things. It is the story of a young widow trying to survive as the modern world encroaches on village life and critics have called this a “gorgeous second novel.”
I want to read writer Jeffrey Zaslow’s book The Magic Room, a Story About the Love We Wish for our Daughters. Zaslow is the writer behind such best-selling books as Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters. Zaslow was also a columnist and a journalist, and he died in February this year at the age of 53 in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and three daughters, to whom he was devoted and whom he honors with this book. His life and his writing are commendable, and I would like to learn from both as I will always have Great Expectations.
Readers may contact Sara Clarkson by leaving a message at (630) 320-5448 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.