Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Short Summer Reading List and Some Recommendations

It takes a while for summer to feel like summer in Southern California...And this year the "June Gloom" has lasted well into July, shocking many of the tourists shivering on our beaches. But summer reading lists are always hot, so here goes:
My Short-List of Summer Reading:
Tinkers by Paul Harding
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I'm only a couple of chapters into "Tinkers", but the book is beautifully written from page one (guess that's why it won the Pulitzer Prize, huh?). The other two I'm looking forward to on the strength of "popular" acclaim.
Odd to have 3 books on my reading list and not one woman author, but this summer started for me with "The Lacuna" which I'm still touting (along with C.M. Mayo's wonderful "Last Prince of the Mexican Empire.") And of course you know I've been re-reading some Austen this summer, one of my favorite authors.
As usual I'm reading some other classics as well, and I just finished The Old Curiosity Shop, by Charles Dickens, which I had never read. It was not his best story, by far, but it's full of strange, wounded, quirky characters who combine to make the whole book memorable. Some of his best "bad guys" are in his "worst" books.
There are some good new books out for young adults, too, and my friend John O'Melveny Woods' "Return to Treasure Island" is one of them. Obviously, it's a sequel to Stevenson's "Treasure Island" and a great deal of fun. The Foreword was written by LeVar Burton, who approached the book with caution, as did I, but was won over completely (well, duh, he wrote the Foreword, right?). Perfect for parents and kids to read together, this swashbuckling adventure story could lead to teenage boys actually wanting to read for fun...The author offers a free download of the original "Treasure Island" and a short prequel called the "Spanish Galleon" on his website, along with videos and puzzles, so there's family fun in the offing!
Another fine book out this summer for a mature Young Adult audience is Gary Winters' The Deer Dancer . I talked about this title before...But there are so few literary books written for this key audience, and even fewer are written about a Latino or Indian protagonist. The book recently won Best Book of the Year in a national contest and the honor is well-deserved.
I'm reading some good manuscripts this summer, too, and I'll expound on them at a later date...It's probably best for me to know when books will actually be coming out before going on and on about them.
hasta pronto!