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.
Summer reading lists
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.
Woody Guthrie: American Radical, by Will Kaufman. I love musician biographies; Humphrey Carpenter’s of Benjamin Britten is the most fascinating book I’ve read in years. I also love Guthrie’s music--he’s so much funnier and sharper-edged than the earnest troubadours who mimicked him in the 60s--and I’ll read anything about politics.
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.
Musicophilia, by Oliver Sacks. This promises to be a fascinating, in-depth account of the physiological/psychological/emotive effects music has on us.
The Little Way of Saint Therese of Lisieux: Into the Arms of Love, by John Nelson. Therese--who died of tuberculosis at age 24 and was canonized less than 30 years later--was an unassuming woman who found great joy in her littleness. This volume promises to be refreshing spiritual nourishment.
I have two major reading projects that I'll be continuing in tandem this summer. They may sound like polar opposites, but I find them to be quite similar.