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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Reading Roundup

One of my very favorite pastimes is reading.  I like to get reading suggestions from other people.  It just makes it so much easier to pick out a book to read, and I'm sure there are others out there who are just like me.  So, I've decided to start a monthly post called Reading Roundup in which I will share with you, what I've been reading.  I hope it will inspire you with some titles or authors that you might like to try on for size.

So here is what I'm reading this month:

Song For Night by Chris Abani.  I'm reading this book because I am tutoring a student who was assigned this for Summer Reading. It is not for the faint of heart. The story's main character, My Luck, is a child soldier in Nigeria.  He is fifteen at the outset of the story but has been involved in the war for three years.  His job is to sweep the landscape for mines.  He, like the other members of his platoon, has had his vocal chords severed. This was done to prevent screaming when a landmine doesn't want to scare the other mine sweepers with death screams!  The brutality of the war is stark and revolting.  The depravity of mankind is close to the surface of this book, but My Luck is the shining example of how one can cling to human goodness in the face of overpowering evil.  I haven't finished the book yet, but must admit I can't wait to be done with it.  So very brutal.  The writing is superb and borders on poetic, but I wonder why it is necessary to include it in a summer reading project.  Thank goodness my student is going to be a senior.  I guess the message is:  here's the real world kid...take a look!

Because Song For Night is so overwhelmingly oppressive, I needed something light to counteract it.  Enter The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen.  The book is set in Mullaby, North Carolina.  I just love Southern novelists, of which Ms. Allen is one.  Their prose usually drips with rich descriptions and details just like the Spanish Moss that droops from tree tops in the South.  This book lives up to my expectations of luxurious details, plus it has some very fun plot twists, some mystery, some romance, and even magic. The main character, Emily, has just come to live with her giant of a grandfather...uh, yes I mean giant...literally...he is almost 9 feet tall!  Emily's mother, Dulcie, has just died, and since Emily never knew her father, she goes to live with her grandfather, Vance. Emily has never met her grandfather and finds him shy and reclusive.  Everything is strange for Emily who has had to leave the rather austere life in an all-girls school in the North and acclimate to the down home, folksy life of a small Southern town where everyone knows the business of EVERYONE else.  Emily soon realizes the mother she knew (an activist who supported a dozen causes), who lead a very plain life, had a very different past.  Dulcie was rich, popular, and very much a materialist.  Something happened to change all that...and Emily will find out what everyone else in Mullaby already knows.  A very fun read.


Next on my list is The Traveling Tea Shop by Belinda Jones.  I haven't started to read this one yet, but it was recommended by the Modern Mrs. Darcy. I've been following MMD on Pinterest and her blog. Go check out her blog HERE. What a find!  She has great recommendations and great taste!  In fact, she spoke highly of Sarah Addison Allen, so that is why I picked up The Girl Who Chased the Moon. I loved the cover of The Traveling Tea Shop and love, love, love tea shops in general (gotta visit Teaberrys in Flemington if you are ever in the area) so I thought I would give this book a go.

Finally, I've decided to begin checking off one of the items on my Bucket read every one of Shakespeare's plays.  I've read quite a few already, but many still remain.  I decided to start with one of his earliest Measure for Measure.  I dusted off my old Shakespeare anthology from college days...

It was cool to see some of the annotations I had made almost 45 years ago!!!  I even found some bibliography lists meant to be used in research done on those old purple ditto sheets...anyone remember those?

I decided to listen to a recording of the play as I followed along in the text.  A really good resource can be found at THIS website.  I was disappointed in Measure for Measure; it seemed simplistic and relied on silly and see through mistaken identities.  I chalked it up to Shakespeare starting to tryout his dramatic wings...after all I KNOW what he ultimately produced...he's not called the Sweet Swan of Avon for nothing!  I'm  looking forward to reading more of the bard.  I'll keep you posted.

So that's what I've been reading lately.  What great reads have you been delving into?  I would love to hear what you have on your reading list!