Open The Book, Fall In

2015 July/August

Consummate reader Mary Hammond graciously give us her suggestions for a season of good reads.

 

"Composing a reading list is serious business for me. I love the challenge of researching new books and reading reviews and comments from friends as titles are gathered.

 

"You'll see that I'm attracted to first novels. I find the passion of a first-time author inspiring. This is my Summer Reading List so I've only read a few of the books so far. Reading the first chapter of the rest of them left me longing for more of each story. Hope you will find your summer read here or on some other list. Open the book, and fall in!"

 

Re Jane: A Novel by Patricia Park

 

There are many comparisons between this debut novel and Jane Eyre, albeit a loose comparison. Re is a young Korean American orphan from Queens who takes a job as au pair when her Wall Street job falls through following college. To quote author Lisa Borders, "...this book is full of beautiful language, strongly drawn characters, an abundance of heart, and, of course, nunchi." Google "nunchi."

 

Girl at War: A Novel by Sara Novic

 

When my cousin Heather served in the Canadian Armed Forces and was stationed in Croatia during the 1990s, I found out just how much I didn't know about the country and the civil war in Yugoslavia. This debut novel is the coming of age story of Ana, following her from the outbreak of the war into her life at college in the U.S. and back to find closure in her home town.

 

The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel by Naomi Jackson

 

Two sisters are sent from Brooklyn to live with their grandmother in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. This first novel that focuses on the ties that bind three generations of women. "With care, the narrative addresses huge issues, such as mental illness, mortality, sexuality, and, at its very core, what it means to love another person as they are," says Tiphanie Yanique, author of Land of Love and Drowning.

 

The M&M Boys by Lara Reznek

 

Attending games at Brooks Stadium and getting caught up in the Great American pastime have no doubt led me to reading books about baseball. This story takes place in 1961 when a Little League player with a sickly mother and playboy father finds himself neighbors of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Based on historical facts, The M&M Boys explores the lives of two Yankee greats as they live together in Queens and battle to break Babe Ruth's home run record.

 

A Lucky life Interrupted: A Memior of Hope by Tom Brokaw

 

Before Tom Brokaw's Dateline special "A Lucky Life Interrupted" was even over I had already orderd the book. The powerful memoir of a year plus battling cancer and reflections on his fortunate life with a strong marriage and loving family, brilliant career and friends is extremely personal and inspirational.

 

 

Dead Wake: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania: by Eric Larson

 

One hundred years ago the 787-foot Cunard superliner, traveling from New York to Liverpool, sank after being torpedoed by a German submarine. The neutral ship sank in just 18 minutes with the loss of nearly 1,200 people, including 128 Americans, all civilians. Eric Larson tells the story fo the captains of the two vessels as well as the quest to involve the United States in the Great War.

 

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

 

David McCullough makes history come alive, yet again, in his tenth book. "The Wright Brothers is merely this: a story, well told, about what might be the most astonishing feat mankind has ever accomplished. As the comic Louis C.K. has said, reprovingly, to those who complain about the inconveniences and insults of modern air travel: "You're sitting. In a chair. In the SKY!" says Daniel Okrent, New York Time Book Review.

 

Inside the O'Briens: A Novel by Lisa Genova

 

Lisa Genova once again uses her background as a neuroscientist and the gift of storytelling to explore the impact of a fatal genetic disease on a close-knit family. Joe O'Brien is a 44-year-old Irish Catholic Boston police officer diagnosed with Huntington's Disease. Joe's four children each have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. A powerful novel of the human spirit.

 

At the Water's Edge: A Novel by Sara Gruen

 

I loved the animals in Water for Elephant and Ape House but never thought the creature in Sara Gruen's new book would include the legendary "Nessie." In the middle of Word War II, three party-loving socialites travel to a small hamlet in Scotland to redeem Col. Hyde's failed mission to find "Nessie" and win the old man's respect.

 

 

The Given World: A Novel by Marian Palaia

 

After watching "Last Days of Vietnam" on PBS, I am ready to read a little more abou the Conflict in Southeast Asia. The Given World is "a sweeping portrait of post-Vietnam America as seen through the eyes of a young woman searching for the courage to go home again." This debut novel is about the effect of the war on those left behind and of their tenacity, courage, and vulnerability.

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