Dear Fellow Book People, I recently read a New York Times book supplement and was highly amused to find that, in the midst of all of our technological swirl and instant info, books and reading are still prominent in our lives. Just take a look at some of these titles. The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization or The Social Life of Books and How to Become a Literary Recluse. And if you will recall just last month we featured a book, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.
What does this indicate to me? That the written word still has power and that books are the providers of that power. But power, shmower. All of us, and especially those who read these annual summer columns, know that books continue to be a great source of joy and entertainment in our lives. Happy are those people who can “disappear” from the world by curling up with a good book. This column is merely an appetizer to the feasts that await in the pages of a good mystery or romance or biography. So without further ado, let’s get those pages turning with these absolutely excellent recommendations from our OP readers. Take notes.
Our friend and avid reader Howard Waters introduces us to A Gentleman in Moscow, a chart-topper for many months now. Author Amor Towles weaves a compelling story of a Russian aristocrat whose status and birthright make him a criminal in the country’s new Communist regime. For his “crime” he is confined to live the remainder of his days in small, unaccommodating quarters in a hotel. Towles shares with us his impressive knowledge of literature, food, Russian history and the manners of a gentleman. And readers, it’s even a love story of sorts, seasoned with suspense and depth. This is definitely a read you will want to curl up with.
Equally fascinating is Elephant Company, recommended by Chris Chance. This is a brilliant and intricately researched book by Vicki Constantine Crome, which tells the story of distinct and disparate cultures mingling together against the backdrop of exotic Burma in the 1920s. This is a true story of the animal kingdom interacting with the human kingdom in ways that alter both for the better. An unlikely hero depends on his Elephant Company to help him save lives during World War II, with his remarkable gift for understanding the hearts and minds of these great beasts. The work of elephants was vital to troop movement, building bridges and hauling supplies, tasks that made their services so crucial that both the Allied forces and the Japanese coveted them. This is a summer read “must.”
And yet another excellent recommendation comes from avid OP reader Meryl Kessler. Beneath a Scarlet Sky is author Mark Sullivan’s historical adventure of Pino Lella, a normal Italian teenager, who joins the Underground Railroad to help Jews escape over the Alps. Enlisting as a German soldier (on his parents’ advice to keep him alive), he is injured at age 18 and becomes Hitler’s left hand driver, a wry twist of fate for someone wanting nothing to do with the Nazis. And so the story of a true hero unfolds.
Here again for your reading pleasure are three adventure-packed books awaiting you, compliments of our loyal readers. I know we’re all busy multi-tasking but my advice to you is to take the time to read. It’s a stress-free pastime that enlightens as it entertains. And if you just can’t find the time to read in this busy world, think retirement.
Until we meet again, keep those pages turning.