On the Shelf
Every year, people gather in my hometown for an almost unthinkable challenge. During the Leadville Trail 100, athletes run 100 miles. The race is metaphorically fascinating.
Right now I'm reading In the Garden of Beasts, by master storyteller Erik Larson. It is the captivating story of William E. Dodd, U.S. ambassador to Germany during Hitler's rise to power. Dodd's young adult daughter Martha, a socialite who had affairs with the head of the Gestapo and a Russian spy, steals the show. Next I plan to read Stephen Ozment's sweeping survey A Mighty Fortress: A New History of the German People.
The Chatelet Apprentice, by Jean-François Parot. I've been re-invigorating my French with the mystery novels of French diplomat Jean-François Parot. (Several titles are available in English.) As police commissioner Nicolas Le Floch works to solves crimes in 18th-century Paris, author Parot expands the plot with descriptions of the era's culture, political intrigues and haute cuisine.
The term "summer reading" conjures up leisurely days immersed in fiction. I have a few items in that pile.
Up until now, my ideas about summer reading were driven largely by guilt. My bookshelf is packed to the gills with books that I "should" read: books people have given me and I need to return, or books that have been sitting there so long, I have given myself ultimatums--either read this or get rid of it.