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What Are You Reading?

Thursday, June 15, 2006 at 1:29 PM

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Summer's just about here, so what are you reading? We sent our trusty intern to the Coventry neighborhood in Cleveland Heights to ask some folks at Mac's Backs Bookstore. ideastream's Dan Moulthrop asked Chagrin Falls branch Librarian-in-Chief Jim McPeak for his summer reading recommendations.

Folks at Mac’s Backs Bookstore - Listen to the MP3

Jim McPeak’s summer reading recommendations -
Listen to the MP3

Jim highlighted the following:
Ulysses, by James Joyce.
Arguably the finest novel in the English language, Joyce took its name from the Roman translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, and transposed that mythic plot to become events which unfold over 18 hours in Dublin on June 16, 1904. Proponents of the novel have named that date “Bloomsday,” after the main character Leopold Bloom.
Wives Behaving Badly, by Elizabeth Buchan.
Minty Lloyd once relished her role as “the other woman” but now she has the title of “the second wife,” and although she’s still gorgeous and sexy, the fact that she is also now the mother of twins and settling into a mundane life is beginning to make her worried, particularly as it seems her husband is spending just far too much time with “the ex.” Chick lit at its’ best, and a great beach book.

Adverbs, by Daniel Handler.
Handler, who has made a great name for himself as Lemony Snickett, here writes for adults in a series of vignettes that play with works and lives. Each chapter (and I use the term loosely) leads into the next, but the reality is that these are beautifully-wrought and often outrageously funny interlinking short, short stories.

Icebergs, by Rebecca Johns.
WWII air gunner Walt Dunmore survives a horrific plane crash in a remote area of Newfoundland that kills the rest of the crew. He survives nearly a week before being rescued, and in the meantime, frostbite takes most of his fingers. An exploration of the next 50 years demonstrates that, “even near misses leave a wake, an invisible breath that moves through the air.”

Jim also recommends these new titles to wile away the summer:
The Duchess of Nothing, by Heather McGowan.
A woman leaves her lackluster marriage, and flies to Rome with her lover, only to discover that she has traded one bad situation for another. The single delight in her life is Edmund, her lover’s 7-year-old brother.

The Mercy Room, by Gilles Rozier.
In occupied France, a teacher of German saves a Jewish prisoner and hides him in a secret cellar room. The two begin an amazing and shattering affair. Is the teacher a hero or an opportunist?

Cellophane, by Marie Arana.
A man dreams of setting up a paper factory in the rain forest. He achieves that dream, then stumbles onto the formula for cellophane. And then the lives and secrets of his family become as transparent as the product he creates.

The Man of My Dreams, by Curtis Sittenfeld.
As the story opens, Hannah loves reading about celebrity marriages, while her parents’ marriage is falling to pieces. Over the next 15 years, Hannah repeatedly wrecks on the shoals of bad relationships, and wonders: At what point can you no longer blame your failures on your messed-up upbringing?

Blue Screen, by Robert B. Parker.
Parker’s latest brings two of his series together, as Chief of Police Jesse Stone teams with private detective Sunny Randall to uncover why C-list movie mogul Buddy Bollen suddenly has an unscripted dead body on the set.

The Observations, by Jane Harris.
Irish scullery maid Bessy accepts a job in an imposing home in Scotland, and enjoys all of her work except one part: her mistress Arabella Reid insists that she write down everything she does, thinks and desires in a little red journal.

Elements of Style, by Wendy Wasserstein.
With emphasis on the sardonic, Wasserstein observes the goings-on and the social one-upmanship of the Upper East Side set in post- 9/11 New York, through the eyes of Frankie Weissman, well-educated and well-grounded, and a source of wry, incisive commentary.

The Whole World Over, by Julia Glass.
From the author of Three Junes, comes a story of New Yorker Greenie Duquette, who in a moment of coincidences serves cake and ends up flying off to be the personal chef of the governor of New Mexico. Glass takes the absurd and shows what drives our connections to the ones we love.

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