Saturday, June 20, 2009

Summer reading Vol. I

As we know, I read more than most normal people.
OK, I read a lot more than most normal people.
I'm Emily and I'm a book addict.

Since we know this, I thought, for those of you looking for summer reads, I would chronicle what I read this summer--as in, every book (or almost every book) and bookshelves of what's new (as in, books I haven't read a million times, like my Jane Re-Read).

See, part of the problem with my Book Addiction is that people keep writing books. There are always so many more to read!

So, in this first installment, here's what I've downed so far this summer:

The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne): I've read this before; it was required reading in Honors English 11 in high school (Mrs. Moone's class--one of the best teachers I have ever had). I am not overly fond of Early American Authors. I've read Cooper, and I really disliked Last of the Mohicans. (For some of the reasons why, go here.) I really didn't like this the first itme I read it. Hawthorne was way too wordy (Shades of his friend Melville!) and I couldn't wait to finish it.
In college I took a "19th Century American Literature" course. To this day I do not know what possessed me to do this. In addition to Moby-Dick, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, and other works, we read Hawthorne's short stories, which I really liked. He has a knack for the fantastic.
So, when Ignatius Press, one of my favorite Catholic publishing houses, released their edition of The Scarlet Letter, I pondered giving it another go. Finally did. It's better than I remembered. MAybe because I'm older, and I've read more, or I appreciate the characters better. I don't know. All I know is the descriptions seem less halting, and I really enjoyed Hester. So, if you haven't read this one, try it. Or try his short stories, as a way to tip your toe into the Hawthorne pool. You can even find them online here.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (Katherine Howe): This one dovetails off The Scarlet Letter, by also taking place in Massachusetts. Connie is a Harvard graduated student, doing work in early Colonial History. When her mother asks her to prepare her grandmother's house nearby for sale, Connie moves in and discovers some odd things. As her research delves into the history of the Salem Witch Trials, she uncovers an interesting theory--what if there really were witches in Salem? And what if they still existed today? The book alternates between different narrators--Connie, Deliverance, her daughter Mercy, and Mercy's daughter, Prudence. The climatic scene is well worth the suspense as Connie uncovers not just a historical mystery, but a mystery within her own family that has important implications for herself.

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