The title of this blog is a quote from Austin Phelps,
an American minister and an educator living in the 19th century.-----------------------
If you have been a long time reader of this blog, you will not be surprised to read that I LOVE BOOKS. After all, I did major in English literature in college, and in graduate school. And I spent the first eight years of my working career teaching literature (at my college alma mater) and the last eight years of my working career teaching writing (and the occasional literature course) at the local community college.
So, when I think about summer, I think about reading. Truth be told, when I think about spring, autumn and winter, I think about reading.
You should see the nightstand next to my side of the bed. Yup--a book holder with 10 or so book "waiting to be read." And on top of those book is my Kindle reader with a whole bunch more books to be read.
So when someone asks me for a recommendation of a good book that I read (recently), it is really difficult for me to choose.
Understand--it is not that my selections are always faultless. I have occasionally picked a book that "looked good" only to learn that it was a complete dud. A waste of my time and money. I resent such an encounter with a book. And I really resent the promoting of such a book which a certain online website where one can buy books did--and that's why I bought the awful book that I resented. No, I won't tell you the name of the book.
But, but, but...this blog is supposed to be about a really good book that I have read. (Can you tell that I am stalling...it is so hard to choose?) I am going to cheat--and pick TWO: one fiction, one non-fiction. Both are from several years ago. If you haven't read them, do. If you have, re-read them.
Three years ago, a book discussion group I was in selected the novel The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. From the title, you can figure out something about the book. The structure of the novel is focused on three main characters--and the cellist. As the chapters alternate among these characters, you experience the horror of the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. Soon, you too become caught up in the recurring question--will the cellist of Sarajevo live another day to play Albinoni's Adagio on the exact spot where a deadly mortar fell.
Non-fiction? I try to read interspersing books--fiction/non-fiction. Repeat.
The same book discussion group introduced me to the wonderful book The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman. Through the story of a Hmong child with epileptic seizures, the book brings into stark contrast two approaches to health and healing. Unexpectedly, both approaches are correct but they are on a collision course. Contrast the Hmong culture with the mindset of American clinical health care--and you get the basic sense of the content of the book. What you can't get unless you read it is the agonizing direction the story takes you.
I was so taken with this book that for months afterwards I would tell ANY health care provider I met that they really "had" to read this book. I finally stopped when one of these providers said--"I already have."
So, those are my choices. And as Austin Phelps advised--wear the old coat and buy the new book. The book will wear much longer and better than the coat!