A Bucket of [Summer] Books

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A fellow blogger suggested putting together a ‘bucket list’ of books we need to read before—well, in my case, before the end of summer. My collection is a bit eclectic, and the choices I’ve made were sometimes impulsive, not necessarily with a great deal of forethought.

Here is the current list, including titles I have finished since I began this task. The links are to my individual blog posts about the books:

  1.  Magpie Murders (Anthony Horowitz, 2017) – FINISHED!!
  2. A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm (Dave Goulson, 2014) – FINISHED. This book is the selection for an upcoming book group at the University Book Club in Mill Creek, WA – Garden Reads.
  3. A Great Deliverance: Inspector Lynley Mysteries, No. 1 (Elizabeth George, 1988) – FINISHED. This is one of the reads for the Usual Suspects reading group from the University Book Store in Mill Creek, WA. Comments to follow in a blog post after we meet on Friday, June 23, 2017.
  4. The Velvet Hours (Alyson Richman, 2016) For the Fiction reading group at the University Book Store in Mill Creek, WA – FINISHED
  5. The Translation of Love (Lynne Kutsukake, 2017) For the Edmonds Bookstore book group. I won’t make the meeting, but managed to read the book. FINISHED.
  6. Still Life, and A Fatal Grace (Louise Penney, 2005 and 2006). Penney’s first and second Inspector Gamache books. Still Life was a Usual Suspects read and A Fatal Grace was a natural follow up. FINISHED.
  7. A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles, 2016 ) – In Progress, and enjoying it slowly.
  8. Hillbilly Elegy (J. D. Vance, 2016) – In Progress
  9. Clementine: the Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (Sonia Purnell, 2015) – In Progress
  10. Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (Paul Theroux, 2015) – In Progress; this is one to savor and I am.
  11. Becoming Hebrew: the Creation of a Jewish National Culture in Ottoman Palestine (Arieh Saposnik, 2008) – In Progress
  12. One Hundred Philistine Foreskins (Tova Reich, 2013)
  13. 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America (Andreas Killen, 2006)

Take Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz, for example. I bought this on the first day of its release (June 6, 2017) mostly because I loved the cover and only then did I pay attention to the author, who just so happens to be the writer responsible for many of my favorite Midsomer Murders episodes, and only then did I read the first chapter and decide it was going to be time well spent reading. And how was I to pass up a title like Tova Reich’s One Hundred Philistine ForeskinsThis tantalizing satire was passed along to me by a good friend; caveat though to those unfamiliar with the alternative universe of orthodox Judaism, you might want to find someone who is or keep Google open to look up unfamiliar terms.

Clementine: the Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (Sonia Purnell, 2015),  Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads (Paul Theroux, 2015), and A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm (Dave Goulson, 2014) are selections from one or another of the local book groups I attend at the University Book Store, Mill Creek, WA. The discussions for two of these have already taken place, but I failed to finish reading the books in time (I know, shame on me). All three of these are good reads. Imagine Mr. Churchill, if you will, somersaulting in his bathtub, one of many unimaginable (I wish) snippets of detail provided for you by Ms. Purcell in her intimate biography of Clementine and her husband; or wrap your head around the “more than seventy bee species, fifty types of butterflies, sixty bird species and over 100 different flowering plants” that Goulson has identified in his little hay meadow in rural France.

On the more studious side of the pile I put former ASU faculty Arieh Saposnik’s Becoming Hebrew: the Creation of a Jewish National Culture in Ottoman Palestine, which was another volume on loan from friends—a thoroughly readable piece of academic writing about the early Yeshuv. Then there are two ‘should read’ volumes; one that revisits the turbulent politics of the 1970s, 1973 Nervous Breakdown: Watergate, Warhol, and the Birth of Post-Sixties America, which may be a bit too relevant given our current political chaos, and a beautiful memoir about a not-always-so-beautiful clash of cultures, Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance.

Back to fun reading with A Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles, 2016) about I’m-not-sure what-exactly but who could resist a story with “special keys, secret compartments, … vials of coveted liquid … a backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama” (so says the reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicle) and our own Elizabeth George’s first Inspector Lynley novel, A Great DeliveranceI’ve included some links to reviews and other info, but can’t guarantee the sites will provide spoiler alerts where needed. Happy reading, and thanks to Jay in NYC for the suggestion!