Hot Reads for Hot Days
July 07, 2011
Hello there, readers. After much deliberation and many hours of strenuous research by the pool, I have finally come up with some great reads to fill up your summer book bag...
44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith - Adult Fiction--Humor
Those of you who haven’t read the 44 Scotland Street series may be familiar with McCall Smith as the author of the popular No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, 44 Scotland Street was originally published as a serial in a Scottish newspaper, where it quickly became a huge hit and turned into a series of books which tell the stories of a group of people who live and work on the same street. They include (among others): Bruce, an overbearing narcissist who simply cannot understand why everyone doesn’t adore him; Matthew, a shy and somewhat neurotic art gallery owner; Pat, an attractive college student who is searching for meaning and (maybe) love in her life; Bertie, a talented and intelligent six year old who speaks fluent Italian and plays the saxophone with soul; Irene, Bertie’s mother, whose relentless ambition on her son’s behalf is appreciated neither by Bertie nor the general public. These characters seem like people we know; just like us, the people in these books are capable of kind and gracious acts as well as truly dreadful behavior-- but McCall Smith, a sympathetic creator, always allows ample opportunity for redemption. These books are some of my favorites; I hope you’ll enjoy them, too. The other books in this series include Espresso Tales, Love Over Scotland, The World According to Bertie, and The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (with one forthcoming title, Bertie Plays the Blues).
Carry on, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse - Adult Fiction--Humor
Actually, any of the Jeeves titles (and there are quite a few) will fill the bill for a quick, light and amusing read. Famous for his spot-on parodies of the British upper crust, Wodehouse’s best-known and most-loved works are those starring the utterly hapless Bertie Wooster and his superbly gifted manservant, Jeeves. For those unfamiliar with the run of a J&W tale, the general outline goes thusly: Bertie, an independently wealthy socialite, inevitably becomes entangled in an ill-advised romance, or an adolescent prank, from which he is constitutionally incapable of extracting himself without certain annihilation. Jeeves is then called upon, in the feudal fashion, to rescue his moronic master, and he does so, time and time again, with such verve and style that we are left breathless with admiration (and laughter) at Wodehouse’s abilities. Much of the enjoyment of a Jeeves and Wooster tale is the certainty of the outcome; no matter how ludicrously convoluted a fix Bertie lands himself in, Jeeves always manages to extract his employer with minimum damage and maximum cool, guaranteeing a happy ending for us all. Some (but by no means all) of the other Jeeves and Wooster titles you’ll enjoy are: The Cat-Nappers; Right Ho, Jeeves; Thank You, Jeeves; The Inimitable Jeeves.
I love the movie The Shawshank Redemption, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman; I’ve seen it many times and recently I finally got around to reading this short novel. Like just about every Stephen King book, it’s a page-turner, and a very enjoyable one at that. The story begins in the 1940’s, when a young banker, Andy Dufresne, is wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife and her lover. Through the eyes of the narrator, a fellow inmate known only as "Red," we follow the story of Andy’s unjust incarceration and the events which unfold in the decades to come. This is a fascinating character study with a great surprise twist at the end. Having seen this movie won’t spoil a thing for you; one of the best books I’ve read lately.
Lone Jack Branch