Books I’ve read so far this summer

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It’s that time of summer when the waiting begins. Going outside at least several times a day to check the length of the little eggplant forming. The size of the pepper. The color of the tomatoes hanging on the vine.

Before the next wave of vegetable inundation begins, there are books to pass the time. Here are some I’ve read so far this summer.

City of Lost Dreams, by Magnus Flyte. This is the follow-up to City of Magic, and the second may be even better than the first. Together, these books are everything you want in a fun, fantasy, romance, mystery kind of summer read. There are maps in the flyleaf, which is always a plus for any book. The maps are of Prague and Vienna, the backdrop cities for each of the books, and this is the kind of writing that makes you want to be there, now. There’s a potentially immortal dwarf. A lot about classical music. And sex. Do you need anything more than that? No.

changOn Such a Full Sea, by Chang-Rae Lee. I don’t exactly what to say about this book. It gave me some very strange dreams when I started reading it, though that could have been related to the fact that my husband and I switched our sides of the bed for the first time that night. Yes, there’s a story there. Another dystopian novel, though I would say it’s dystopian-lite. It’s told from the perspective of first person plural, and this raises the question, are all stories really from the perspective of first person plural? It’s about Fan and her search for her disappeared lover. But of course, it’s also the story of her community, and they get to tell it. So are all stories at their heart stories about a community? I liked this book and you can see, it raised some interesting questions.

Through the Evil Days, by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Another installment in the Reverend Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne series mystery series. I love these folks. Love the people around them. Love that I don’t have to live their very stressful, violent lives, but can enjoy them by proxy.

A White Wind Blew, by James Markert. Who knew that Louisville was the sight of a horrific tuberculosis epidemic in the beginning of the 20th century? Who knew that at Waverly Sanatorium patients died at one point at the rate of one per hour? I didn’t. This is a really interesting novel that makes sure to include all the important Louisville landmarks of the time. The Seelbach. The Brown Hotel. Churchill Downs. Cherokee Park. Nice job weaving an interesting story around local history.

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simison. I loved this book. As in, laugh out loud, loved this book. It’s first person from the perspective of Don Tillman, who clearly hangs out somewhere on the autism spectrum, but doesn’t know it. He decides he needs to find a wife. Hilarity ensues, as it will when you are a person trying to apply logic and rationality to the world of human social interaction.

robert johnsonEscaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues, by Elijah Wald. I picked up this book as writing research and was happily surprised to find how interesting it was. There’s a bit of blues history here. A bit of Robert Johnson biography. A very detailed chapter outlining for you what made Johnson so interesting artistically-speaking, not to the people of his time period, but to blues fans who re-discovered him in the 1960s. Then there’s a lot about the cultural backdrop for the first blues musicians. In the process, Wald echoes other things I’ve read about the history of music in America, which is that we make artificial divisions based on race. Early blues musicians listened to Jimmie Rodgers. They could play “old-time” music and Tin Pan Alley. They had no labels for “country” or “jazz” or “blues” at first. They played whatever their audiences wanted to hear, and their audiences were varied. They might be calling with a string band at a dance one night and playing in an Italian restaurant the next. In other words, the more I learn about American music, the more it becomes apparent how tangled up it is and always has been.

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