Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Great Circle

Lift. If you’re likely to ready only one book this summer, consider Maggie Shipstead’s novel titled, Great Circle. Fans of historical fiction will find a compelling story about Marian Graves through most of the 20th century. After Marian and her brother, Jamie, are orphaned and rescued from a sinking ship, they are raised in Montana by their uncle whose neglect makes them self-sufficient. Marian falls in love with aviation when a biplane comes to town. At two critical points in her life, she is asked what she would like, and both times she answers that she wants to fly. In the first case, she wants to learn to fly an airplane. In the second, she wants to circumnavigate the earth from pole to pole. Shipstead enhances the total novel by adding a contemporary story in which a movie is being made of Marian’s life. There’s a big cast of compelling characters, engaging stories set in the past and present, and fine writing over the course of six hundred pages. If that doesn’t lift your summer to a new level, consider looking skyward every now and again as you read this novel, and think about the lift that Marian achieved throughout her life, and feel great about the world and all its possibilities for each of us. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Great Circle from amazon.com.

Love and Other Crimes

Compact. I’ve enjoyed every novel by Sara Paretsky featuring Chicago private detective V.I Warshawski. I don’t recall reading her short fiction, so I looked forward to a collection of her stories titled, Love and Other Crimes. Vic shows up in some of these stories, but this is certainly not a one-protagonist collection. Paretsky shows that she can tell a compelling story in a compact form and develop interesting characters with efficiency. Readers who enjoy crime fiction and short stories will find a lot to enjoy in this collection. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Love and Other Crimes from amazon.com.

Klara and the Sun

Hope. I confess to rolling my eyes when I heard that the protagonist of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel titled, Klara and the Sun, was an Artificial Friend. Shame on me for thinking this was about robots or artificial intelligence. Before long, I found myself thinking about what it means to love. I observed Klara’s hope as a model for how each of us can live life fully. Klara is voice that most readers will remember fondly after reading this magnificent novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Klara and the Sun from amazon.com.

The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything

String. If like me, your science reading has been erratic, and you wonder if your knowledge has fallen out of date, you can get a quick and readable catchup with the world of physics in Michio Kaku’s book titled, The God Equation: The Quest for a Theory of Everything. Like a university teacher to a class of non-majors, Kaku explains complex things in simple ways, and his focus on string theory may actually make sense to most readers. Kaku shares with great joy the beauty and symmetry of physics with readers, and how the great questions are worth asking. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The God Equation from amazon.com.

Notes on Grief

Visceral. Wracked with grief following the death of her father in 2020, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote a book titled, Notes on Grief, about her personal experience and as a loving tribute to her father. Through her fine writing, we participate in the visceral aspects of grief and want to howl with her at the great loss. Her words expose our own grief as well. During the past two years millions of people have experienced forms of pandemic grief as our world changed unexpectedly. Our connections to each other can become stronger in the context of grief, and this finely written book will connect deeply with every reader with a grief story of our own. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Notes on Grief from amazon.com.

A Beautiful Crime

Venice. An interesting novel by Christopher Bollen titled, A Beautiful Crime, about scheming and deception becomes more enchanted by the setting of most of the novel in Venice. Nick Brink and Clay Guillory meet in New York, fall in love, and plan a crime to give them a secure and happy future together. Bollen draws readers into their deception and before we know it, we are alongside the characters in Venice, agog at the setting, and shocked at the lengths to which people will go once plans are set in motion. Fans of crime fiction, and any reader who loves Venice, will find something to enjoy in this crime novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase A Beautiful Crime from amazon.com.

When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep

Answers. General readers looking for a comprehensive examination about sleep and dreaming will find out what science knows today about this topic by reading a book by Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold titled, When Brains Dream: Exploring the Science and Mystery of Sleep. Whatever questions you’re likely to have about what goes on while we sleep, you’re likely to find answers in this interesting book. I didn’t snooze once while I was reading it, but I think while I slept overnight, my brain processed what I read. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase When Brains Dream from amazon.com.