Just so you know, this post is littered with Amazon affiliate links.
BOOKS! Last weekend kicked off the start of the summer season, so now we like to pretend we have more time to read then the rest of the year. Yessereebob, during those “lazy” summer days of dragging children to the beach and preventing them from eating sand, or chauffeuring everyone to camps, sports and activities, or just furiously watching the kids play in the backyard pool lovingly slathered in sunscreen to make sure they neither drown nor get stage 3 melanoma. Stocking up on reading material sounds like a perfectly sound and logical idea! What could be better than getting a brand new paper back covered with sand, Gatorade and sunscreen while I try to read / chase down a shovel and pail that is going out to sea?
If you like to set big goals and fall short, here’s my very brief list of books to read this summer. I tend towards classic literature. Fiction from the last ten years is almost never on my reading list. So this list is perfect for anyone looking for a page turner that could also count as a 1.0 credit high school literature course. I’ve tried to include titles I haven’t written about too extensively in the past, but probably none of these will be unheard of to you. They’re already well-loved, and they don’t need my gushy praise, but you’re getting it anyway. But just to be fair and balanced, I’m going to include an Amazon review for each title so, you don’t have to take my word for it! (If you don’t get the Reading Rainbow reference, we can’t be friends anymore.)
1. The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde
Best Amazon 1 Star Review:
The plot is fine. An interesting story. The writing on the other hand is about the worst I’ve ever encountered and that spoils the whole thing. In particular, Oscar Wilde’s Chapter 11 of this book represents the VERY WORST WRITING I’ve ever had the misfortune to encounter during my entire life. Chapter 11 of Picture of Dorian Gray! I’ll remember that as the lowest of the low until, as is unlikely to happen, it is replaced by an even worse piece of writing.
2. Sherlock Holmes in ‘A Study in Scarlett’, ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, ‘The Sign of the Four’, ‘The Valley of Fear’, Arthur Conan Doyle
If you’ve never read Sherlock Holmes, you’re missing out on true mystery and suspense. Even if you dislike the character of Holmes, and in fact he has some very obnoxious qualities, the stories themselves are so engaging and complex, yet easy to follow, but always with a twist when you least expect it. I like to ponder all the possibilities along with Holmes and Watson and see if my own deductions are correct.
Best Amazon 3 Star Review:
Cannot really give it a fair review…have not read it yet. Purchased but I just cannot get into. It does not hold my interest
3. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
Christie has become my go to author when I need a break from heavier reading. I know that when I pick up a Christie mystery, it will hold my full attention, repeatedly surprise me without cheap violence, sex or cliché gags, while still entertaining me. I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through this book, and once I finished it, I still caught myself thinking about it days later.
Best Amazon 2 Star Review (an excerpt)
…Obviously, and for reasons currently beyond me, Christie has a large fan base. I don’t doubt they’d say that I’m either missing something or am an unenlightened philistine who “doesn’t get it.” However, a prime sign of a *good* book is if a relative outsider like me can come in on it cold and go with it. That obviously failed here, and I cannot recommend this book, except to Agatha fanboys or someone looking for a sick drinking game — take a shot every time she uses an exclamation mark. Be warned if you try that, though: you’ll have cirrhosis of the liver 10 pages into it.
In all candor, the more I thought about this book, the more it annoyed me – I wouldn’t have written such a harsh review otherwise.
4. The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Somewhat cheesy and overly dramatic at times, Orczy’s book is a great action packed soap opera. I loved that I felt on the inside from the very beginning and that I was a part of the scheming to save the french aristocrats. I liked watching the relationship grow and change between the main character and his wife and it made me wish that Tony and I could take part in some heroic rescues together.
Best Amazon 3 Star Review
I had always wanted to read this book. I mean, it’s a classic. Well, now I have. It was at times interesting, but it had absolutely no suspense. Has anyone over 5 ever read this book and not figured it out? What kept me going was the expectation that something interesting HAD to happen eventually. It didn’t.
5. The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
One my all time favorites, this title is what really started me down the path to conscientiously reading more good books rather than the Anne Rice novels I had been devouring up to that point. Good stories stand on a good plot, well developed characters, an exciting climax, unique twists that make sense, and a tidy conclusion brought together by the exceptional use of the english language. The Count of Monte Cristo has all these elements and I remember laying in bed, reading this book non-stop, at the expense of more important school work.
Best Amazon 3 Star Review (spoiler alert)
I totally loved the book except for the following:
I was disappointed that he did not marry Mercedes after her treacherous husband committed suicide and was totally bummed in the last few pages when he ends up going for some 20 year old young beauty that he had raised since she was a child! Why do old guys always fancy themselves ending up with some young babe that is younger than their own daughters? Just so you know, he didn’t actually have any children, but still, he is getting close to 50 when he ends up with this young 20 year old babe.
Other than that, a great read
6. Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut
Finally a 20th century entry! Vonnegut is a favorite author of mine. Player Piano is his first novel and one that always sticks with me (along with his better known book Slaughterhouse Five). It’s quirky in the way all his books are, but the message about the use of technology becomes more true the further out we come from Player Piano’s release date.
Best Amazon 4 Star Review
A scary view into the future..which is now. Well written but somewhat uneven. He feared that the world was being taken over by engineers, but it really has been taken over by the accountants. Look at GE now!
What other lofty goals do you have for this summer? Be sure to write them down then link them up below. Remember to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!