Any last-minute summer reading going on in your house?

Here, we have Hugh reading The True Story of Hansel and Gretel.   He has already finished the other two requirements:  The Kite Runner and a book set in Africa whose title I forget and am too lazy to look up.   I stole Hansel and Gretel from him and nearly finished it, when he needed to start it, so neither of us have finished it yet.  As the title suggests, it’s about two children (Jewish) in Nazi Germany who are taken in by an old woman in the forest (Gypsy), and their struggles to survive.  Incredibly harrowing, yes, but gorgeously written.  Hugh and I are discussing it as we go along.

Malcolm is plowing through Code Talker, which is about how Native American servicemen working in WWII intelligence spoke in codes based upon the Navajo language – impossible for our enemies to crack.  Although written in an unfortunately plodding style, the book gets into the ironies beneath that story – how Indian children were taken from their homes, put ito  boarding schools to civilize them, and punished if they spoke anything but English.   I am thrilled that this book gets into the truth of that story – as contrasted with the heroic, whitewashed version of American history my generation was taught.  Anything shameful would not have been mentioned.

Meanwhile, my book club met last night to discuss Brave New World.  Astonishingly, not one of us had ever read it before.  The discussion was lively and went on for hours.  Sitting around Kathleen’s beautiful backyard pool, consuming fresh white peaches, tomato slices topped with basil and mozzarella, and all kinds of fabulous dips and wines did not hurt either.  If any of you have not read Aldous Huxley’s tome, I highly recommend it.  Because I could not find it in any nearby libraries, I ended up downloading it and reading it on my phone.  I know.  Very futuristic.

In our house, our final summer reading club of the summer involves the discovery of a new author (to us), Jennifer Egan.  The paperback The Keep was given to me by my friend Caroline, who casually said “I think you and Chris would really like this book.” 

Put off by the words “post-modern” which somehow entered my consciousness, I nevertheless opened The Keep, probably the same night Hugh stole Hansel and Gretel back, and was quickly hooked.  While Chris was reading it, I was checking out two more Egan books at our library:  The Invisible Circus and Look at Me.  Chris read the latter, not the former, which was a good decision on his part.  Then my friend Deirdre, without knowing about this Egan frenzy in our house, sent a message on Facebook saying “You have to read A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan – I think you would both really like it.” 

I’ve finished it, and now Chris is engrossed.  I can hardly remember the last time my husband and I were reading the same tome, let alone three of them in one short season.  It’s been great fun.  And if it’s not already obvious, I highly recommend you, regardless of your gender, give the smart/funny/observant Jennifer Egan a try.  As Caroline astutely said, “She’s a very ballsy writer.”

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