In high school, I used to detest summer reading lists. It’s not that I didn’t read. It’s just that I liked to read what I wanted to read. Here is this summer’s list, or at least, what I plan to read…
Of course, the big release will be Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
on July 16. At the last HP release, my brother, nephew, and I travelled to several bookstores at 12:00 midnight to find our copies. It was fun that once, but this time we have pre-ordered. In the previous book, Harry turns into a whining teenager. I’m hoping he has matured a bit, otherwise this will be 800 pages of tedium.
Three of my favorite authors have new books out – two somewhat serious and one definitely not so serious. First is Umberto Eco, best known for The Name of the Rose. His newest novel is entitled The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, labeled as an “illustrated novel.” In this novel, a sixty-ish Milanese antiquarian bookseller nicknamed Yambo suffers a stroke and loses his memory of everything but the words he has read: poems, scenes from novels, miscellaeous quotations. Sounds like how I might wind up someday. Eco has a knack for turning seemingly preposterous plots into coherent stories, all rich with references to classic literature. I would highly recommend his Foucault’s Pendulum to fans of the Da Vinci Code.
Speaking of antiquarium booksellers, this summer I hope to read some of John Dunning’s books. The protaganist in Dunning’s books, Cliff Janeway, is a retired Denver Cop turned rare book collector, who still solves mysteries on the side. Some of the titles in this series are The Bookman’s Wake, The Bookman’s Promise, Booked to Die, and the Sign of the Book. I have not read these, but Laura has enjoyed them.
Back to my favorite authors, Arturo Perez-Reverte has also released a new novel entitled
Captain Alatriste, and is set in seventeenth century Spain, with the title character as a swordsman-for-hire. From the bookjacket, this appears to be similar to his The Fencing Master. The book has been out for some time in Spanish, and has only recently been translated into English. Apparently Perez-Reverte has already completed work on another novel with Captain Alatriste entitled Purity of Blood.
Now to the third favorite author – George Singleton. A colleague of Laura’s is a neighbor
of George’s, and has threatened to introduce us, since we are both Furman alumni, but, most importantly, since one of his short stories describes a strange incident that happened to Laura and me, even though George doesn’t know it. This is his first true novel, and is
entitled simply Novel. Set in the town of Gruel, South Carolina, this is the tale of a young man named Novel (his brother’s name is James; his sister’s is Joyce), a professional snake handler who stumbles across strange doings while he sits in a motel room writing his autobiography. The other appeal that Singleton has for me is that I KNOW these people. I can put a name with almost everyone in all of his stories, and it looks like Novel will be no different.
And finally, the beach reads – John Grisham’s The Broker, and Clive Cussler’s Atlantis Found will be on that list. Also tossed in will be the works of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.
These two have collaborated on several novels, including The Relic, Brimstone, and Riptide.
Each has also written several novels by themselves, including Preston’s The Codex, and
Child’s Utopia. Although not as over-the-top as Cussler, their plots can be a bit
contrived, and their characters predictable, but they are usually still good page-turners.
With this list, I should be finished sometime summer of 2006. Now if Jeffrey Carver would only get his act together and finish his Chaos Chronicles…