By Lori Berezovsky Ι June 30, 2016
Summer is a difficult season for me, partly because I dislike hot weather, and partly because I associate the season with idleness, which I don’t do well. I don’t do the outdoors very well, either, in summer. I serve as a beacon to all insects who thirst for human blood. On the other hand, I’m handy to have around since the tiny bloodsuckers head right for me, and leave everyone else alone. You’re welcome. Outdoor events and picnics abound during the summer, and the invitations are mailed out to hundreds of mosquitos, too. You’ll find me at the store stocking up on bug spray and sunscreen.
Luckily for me, reading is a summer activity I can fully support. I can read indoors where it’s cool and bug-free, and it provides me with a purpose to appease my annual heat-induced lethargy.
If you’ve never participated in Salina Public Library’s Summer at the Library program, you should. And yes, I’m talking to the adults out there! Sure, children and teens have their summer library goals and activities at the library, but grown-ups deserve some summer fun, too. Sign up online or at the library. To inspire you, I’m including a list of some of my favorite books that would be perfect to read while sitting on the beach, or tucked safely into a sunburn- and bug-free environment.
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce
If you’ve ever had a wild idea that you’ve wished you carried through on, this book is for you. Harold is recently retired and bored until one morning a letter arrives from a woman he hasn’t heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. One thing leads to another and instead of mailing off a letter to Queenie, Harold embarks upon a pilgrimage — he will walk 600 miles to deliver the letter in person. The novel is in turn charming, funny and insightful.
“The Beautiful Ruins” by Jess Walter
I love novels that take place in Italy, but this book has a wonderful plot line that compliments the scenery. The Ligurian Sea meets a jagged coastline village where you’ll be introduced to characters such as the innkeeper, Pasquale, as well as screen actors and a novelist. The early relationship between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton ties into the story, too.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
Scientists know her as HeLa, but she was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. Those cells became one of the most important tools in medicine and helped in the development of the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold around the world, yet Henrietta herself was unknown. This book looks at the collision between ethics, race and medicine, and Henrietta’s family, who feel cheated by her early death and by her exploitation.
“Lexicon” by Max Barry
This book is the polar opposite of my usual reading fare, and that was partly its appeal. Filled with violence, strong language and the incredible power of words, I could not put it down. The action begins in a small town in the Australian desert whose 3,300 residents have all died mysteriously and violently. Could the cause have been the power of words? The author keeps you on the edge of your seat right up to the last page, and then you’ll want to read it again, immediately.