Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Reading List--2009

Sometimes I pick the book; sometimes the book picks me...

When I was 49, I decided that I wanted to read Tolstoy's War and Peace before I was 50. I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew that having read five books of the Harry Potter series by that point, my goal was doable. I wish I had known more about Russia's war with Napoleon and I also could have used the map from Risk! to move the pieces around. Few of the modern countries have the same borders as they did during the war; even some of the city names have changed. Since I was familiar with Russian naming conventions (each character has a French name, a formal Russian name which includes the name of their father, and one or more nicknames), I was able to keep the characters apart.

Another summer, I decided to read (or re-read) all of Jane Austen's novels, in order of publication. Re-reading Pride & Prejudice was delightful, but I discovered Persuasion, a more mature novel. After watching Jim Caviezel as Edmond Dantes in the movie version of Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, I had to read it. (Major differences between the two, especially the ending. The novel is much more realistic, if anyone finding untold treasure on an undiscovered island can be considered realistic.)

So a couple of weeks ago, Hubs and I were in the hamlet of Port Costa, now known mostly for The Warehouse, a local bar, when I wandered into a store called "Joe's Oddities." What initially caught my eye was a sleeveless sequined shift in bright blocks of color, separated by black lines. Think 1960's. There was a collection of estate jewelery and some LP's of Frank Sinatra and Patti Page. Along the back wall were shelves of books. An eclectic collection, to say the least, nothing that couldn't have come from my parents' home, along with a few Oprah selections.

One book, though, caught my eye and I kept returning to it. It's a faux leather "International Collectors Library" edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. Inside the flyleaf was a piece of paper explaining why this book is important and, on the other side, stating "This volume comes to you in The Marie Antoinette binging."

This edition has never been read. The attached ribbon bookmark marks a page that hasn't been cracked open. The edge of the bookmark is neatly tucked inside.

Once I picked the book up, I couldn't put it down. I asked "Joe" how much (because no price sticker sullied its elegant binding).

"A dollar."


"Including tax."

Since I happened to have a dollar, cash, on me I bought it. And now that the kids are out of school, summer has officially started and I can get with my reading program.

Nothing like a little light reading, eh?