09 April 2007

It's almost summer..

.. and that means it's almost time for sitting on the front porch in the late evening with a good book. And, let me tell you, this year, I have quite the line up and I can't wait!

At the moment, I'm getting to the tail end of Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson. It's an interesting little reconstruction of the 1856 cholera epidemic in London's Soho neighborhood, centering specifically on the pump at Broad Street. Johnson follows two "amateur" public health detectives - John Snow, London's premiere anesthesiologist, and Reverand Henry Whitehead - as they work under the haze of the miasmatist theory (which states that disease is spread through noxious air, in a nutshell) to pioneer the theory that cholera is actually waterborne. The book contains a hefty collection of footnotes, but they're not marked in the text, so I haven't been keeping up on them to know what is actual fact or based on the writings of those mentioned and what is conjecture. All the same, it's enough of a "story", instead of a pure factual account of the events, that's mostly held my interest. It also likely helps that I have an inclination toward public health and the findings of Snow & Whitehead (and a fair number of their contemporaries, like the guy whose name I can't recall at the moment who engineered London's sewers so they wouldn't dump raw sewage into the Thames) were more or less the first real push toward modern public health.

Up next will be either Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, or Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones, both of which were gifts from my dear friend Kim. She recently read both of them and they immediately caught my attention. Much to my surprise when I mentioned that I wanted to pick them up in conversation with her, she popped right over to Amazon and had them sent to me! The anticipation of both of them has almost been enough to make me be unfaithful to Ghost Map, but so far I'm holding out.

I also have a couple "young adult" books in the stack - Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce and Coraline (warning - Flash-heavy site) by Neil Gaiman. I read Trickster's Choice earlier this spring after picking up both books when our local Waldenbooks went out of business and while they're written a little simply for my usual taste, the plot is still very engaging and I enjoyed it. Coraline is has been on my nightstand for awhile, mostly because I'm curious about Neil Gaiman as a writer for children. I simply love his novels - American Gods especially - and the Sandman series of graphic novels, but both tend to be a little grittier than I think might be suitable for kids, so I'm curious to see how he tones it down without losing the intensity. I like to know what young adult literature is out there, both to know which authors are good authors for when we buy books for our niblings, but also to know what the niblings might be finding on their own.

The last two, at least so far, are a couple that have been around for a couple years and spent a fair amount of time in the spotlight - Bel Canto by Ann Patchett and Life of Pi by Yann Martel. While these both caught my attention at the time they were the latest hot read, neither of them captured it enough to make me run out and get them right then. But in talking to bibliophiles who've read them, I've gotten more intrigued about them, so they've been acquired (both through used book stores in paperback) and added to the stack on the night stand.

So.. any other suggestions? What are you looking forward to reading this summer?

1 comment:

Tayari Jones said...

Kim is such a good friend to you! I love it when people share books. Please tell her I said thanks for vote of confidence. :) I really appreciate it and hope you enjoy the book!