More Favorite Books 2012 – So Far…

9 09 2012

I mentioned a few books I fell in love with this year.  I’ve since topped the 115 mark, so I thought I might mention a few more.  I find myself gravitating to non fiction – shamelessly – at times.  As my family and I finish studying the early days of our country, I cannot help but want to know the “rest of the story”, the things they never mention in school and the people who were heroic but somehow forgotten.  I think that in light of what America has become, it’s important to see where America has started and where she’s been.  I do find time for other things.  Here are three great books I read this summer.
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – What can I say, I fell in love with Zafon’s writing three years ago, the first time I read “The Shadow of the Wind”.  Somehow he’s managed to transform subsequent novels into a series called “The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.”  This latest installment ties it all together.  I wrote in my review:

In the months proceeding his scheduled wedding, Fermin shares with Daniel the reason for his “cold feet” after a mysterious one handed man has shown up at the book shop. In learning of Fermin’s past, Daniel also sees the link between author David Martin and his mother.

This book is a “bridge” of sorts. It fills in the gaps between Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game and links the characters together. The book is lacking in the drawn out descriptive style of the previous two books. Instead, it is written at a rather clipped pace with short chapters that cover a lot of ground. There are some heartaches in this story and a 4th book is obviously in the works.

I would probably give this a 4.5 stars rather than a perfect 5. What I loved about it is being back with Daniel and Fermin and enjoying their friendship and their perchance for situations. It’s interesting how this series has evolved, as SOTW clearly tells the destiny of characters in the epilog, but yet now we are getting more details on the events that follow. I just hope it’s not 3 more years before we see what happens next!

Free Air by Sinclair Lewis– There’s nothing that says America more than reading a classic novel from the 1920s.  Lewis grew up in the Midwest, and has fantasies of bridging the social gaps that existed in his time.  The story reminds the reader of the way America used to be.  Nothing like taking a dive into the past to get perspective on the present.

Written in 1919, this is the story of Claire Boltwood – NY socialite on a road trip with her wealthy businessman father from Minnesota to Seattle. They get a true taste of the wide open spaces as they motor their car through the small towns of the plains and mountains of the west. Perhaps their biggest realization is the beauty of Americans that wouldn’t fit neatly in their social circles. Along the way, Claire picks up an admirer in small-town mechanic Milt Dagwood. While he adores her, can she overcome her own prejudices to see him for who he really is?

I found this a charming story. I have not read any of Lewis’s more famous works. I would say that his style is typical of his era, reminiscent of Fitzgerald, but with more small town charm in it. It reminds me of Pride and Prejudice meets The Great Gatsby….Claire is a woman with an identity crisis. She has known nothing but social circles, but real life effects her in an unexpected way. I enjoy the time period, the adventure of learning about America in the grand adventure of the road trip. There is lots of vacillating in this story for both Claire and Milt.

John Adams by David McCullough – I am charmed by another Founding Father.

What do you know about John Adams? Probably not as much as you should. As one of our Founding Fathers, Adams had exceptional courage to step forward and do the right things in the midst of the Revolution. He served overseas for 10 years as ambassador to France and England, also negotiating with the Netherlands for loans for the new nation. As a President wedged between Washington and Jefferson, he is sometimes almost forgotten. Probably his greatest Presidential achievement – peace with France. In his latter years surrounded by family and friends, he rekindles his broken friendship with Jefferson via letters. His relationship with Abagail is legendary, his legacy is ours – “Independence forever.”

Wow, this was another fantastic Revolutionary biography. The author admits it started out as a book about the Adams/Jefferson relationship and certainly there is much about Jefferson in the pages, if only to serve as a contrast/comparison to who Adams truly was. While it’s not a full body in depth bio, it certainly enlightens the read to discover the essence of the real Adams and much about Abagail. We begin to understand some of the conflicting personalities of the Revolution and the challenges of starting a new country. Adams was not a soldier, but a thinker, a politician, a negotiator and a statesman. And a farmer. There is much to love about him – even in his recognition of his own flaws.

Loved this book. Highly recommend to everyone – it’s a big book, but the truth of our past is so refreshing.

 

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