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Well, August is shot!  Summer’s over, and the kids are back in school.  Where did the Summer go?

How did you spend the Summer?

Reading?

Books

Summer reading is a tradition with most people.  Beach books, summer reading, call it what you want, it’s out there, and all the cool kids are doing it.

I read all year long, but Summer Reading is special to me.  It started when I was a kid back in Ohio.  The Germantown Library was my haven, my refuge.  It was cool, it was safe, it smelled of books, and it smelled of knowledge.  And they gave you a sticker for each book you read.  The sticker sheet was of the Presidents, I loved filling them UP each Summer.

I loved it, and I loved reading.

I still do.

When I became a dad, I started reading to my kids.  Not as much as I should, but enough for them to remember.  I read to them, and I continued to read on my own.

When they started High School, I started reading what they HAD to read.  I got the Summer reading list from school, read everything on it, and made sure they picked one.

When they started school, and new books were assigned, I read those too.  When I worked at the school, the books were right there at my finger tips.   Now that the kids are grown and have abandoned me moved away, I still do my Summer reading.

Here’s what I read this Summer.

Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James.  Don’t bother.  I read all three, the porn aspect aside, it was poorly written, contrived, predictable, and unrealistic.  Really, the main character is Mark Zuckerberg, John Holmes, the Marquis de Sade, and Justin Timberlake rolled into one.  NO ONE, and I mean no one is like that!

The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.  Scary, twisted, macabre, full of surprises, just like the author.  The only novel Wilde ever wrote, it is a great read filled with murder, mayhem, betrayal, and a tiny bit of perversion.

And the writing is real writing.

My Cross to Bear by Greg Allman.  A must read for any blues/southern rock fan, the poorly written book is an excruciating read filled with Allman’s ego, self love, and self loathing.  Horrific grammar aside, I enjoyed the book.   English teachers and grammarians need not apply!

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence.  If you’re going to read a ‘dirty’ book, this is the one.  At least it’s grammatically correct, well written and well thought out.

Starving the South by Andrew F. Smith.  Before you yawn yourself to death, it’s a fascinating book about how the Union was preserved by cutting off the supply lines to the Confederate army.  Tales of food hoarding, speculation, and intrigue abound.  Though the events described are 150 in the past, the book brings to mind that man hasn’t changed all that much, and today’s society is no less capable of the same behavior.

Starving the South

The Legend of Zorro by Isabel Allende.  Allende, most noted for her Oprah pick, Daughter of Fortune,  is a Chilean author who takes Zorro from California to Spain and back.  It is action packed, well written, as are all her books, and full of plot twists, real characters, and surprises.

Once Is Not Enough by Jackie Susann.  I’m a Susann fan, but this is probably her worst work.  Hurried, trendy for its time, and full of now passé ‘hip’ lingo, the plot is thin, the story silly, and the ending…well, it doesn’t end, it just stops. If you’re going to read a Jackie Susann book, read Valley of the Dolls or Yargo*.  Once is enough in this case.

The Later Herods by Stewart Perowne.  I swiped this from my Dad’s office the last time I was home.  Actually, mother said I could have it, so there!  Yes, it’s about the Herods of the Bible.  Herod the Great, the first one, the dude who had the baby boys slaughtered, is the first Herod. There’s a whole book about him – out of print – but this book is about his offspring, grandsons, and granddaughters.  They put the fun in dysfunctional.  The Bible mentions most of them, and most people have them confused.  They ruled Judea/Palestine for hundreds of years for Rome.  They were political insiders, intriguers, murderers, adulterers, and a total mess of a family.  I loved it!

The Later Herods

Of course, interspersed in all this are the novels of George Eliot.  I read five of hers, and have one more to go.  Classic Victorian writing, real language, real grammar, real English, she was a welcome diversion when Gregg Allman got too me!

George Eliot

She was a writer, not a looker!

I am currently 1493 and Food in History, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the sequel to Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants, which I read last Summer.

Winter of the World

Are you reading?  And, since I’m always looking for something new, what are you reading?

Seriously, I want to know!!

*Just a note:  Yargo is a surprising book. Jeffery Penn May, author of Where the River Splits said, “Yargo by Jacqueline Susann is remarkable. It was written around 1953 (published 1979). Reminded me of reading Gulliver’s Travels, in that the viewpoint of the author during that time affected the read. In any case, it was a great read and endures as excellent writing, with a powerfully emotional voice.”  So, it’s not must me!! OK?

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