Beach Reads, Anyone?

Recently I’ve really enjoyed the books I’ve read. That’s after much of the year, when I was hard pressed to answer the question “What could you recommend?” Do you have any books that’s you’ve really liked lately? Send them to me and I’ll post a holdable list.

In another post, I wrote about Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. Her 2nd book, Sugar Queen, is also a very good, magical read. Josey Cirrini, 27, takes care of her control-freak mother in a North Carolina town. When the town “loose” woman appears in her closet (where Josey keeps her stash of candy), Josey learns to change her life and finds out more about her father than she wants to.  The funniest character is Chloe for whom books appear when she needs them — even though she tries to get rid of them.

A patron recommended Theresa Rebeck’s debut novel, Three Girls and Their Brother and I found it hard to put down. The three girls are the Heller sisters whose photo shoot in New Yorker magazine turns them into the “It Girls” of the year. They are immediately inundated with agents, actors, publicists, media and “sharks” of various sorts. Their brother, Philip, tries to protect the youngest, Amelia, without much luck. Each sibling has a section of the book and by the end we are rooting for all of them. The parents, however, are complete losers!

For our staff book discussion group, we are reading The Last Chinese Chef by Nicole Mones. While reading this book I alternated among wanting to eat in a complete different, communal manner, to learn to cook, really cook, and wanting to visit China. The descriptions of the whole ritual of cooking and eating is incredible! Unfortunately, this book is not available in audio or large print.

Also, in my Chinese “kick”, I listened to Simon Winchester’s The Man who Loved China which is about Joseph Needham. Needham, who was incredibly adept at languages as well as being a gifted chemist, learned Chinese from his mistress, then served as a science envoy in China during WWII. He became curious about why it seemed that science blossomed in the West. By collecting old documents he disproved this theory and went on to produce Science and Civilization in China (currently up to 24 volumes) detailing the scientific advances that China produced. He never did successfully answer why China stopped the innovations for a few hundred years. They now seem to be making up for lost time.