Thursday, June 28, 2007

Summer 2007: Reading Recommendations

From Garnette Arledge:

What did you do while nature showed her scorching face this week? My great solace in times when it's too hot, too cold, too stormy to go out is to read, read, read. Of course I do read in tranquil times too, I confess. This past week when it was 97 degrees in Kingston's Target parking lot, as soon as I came home, I pulled off the 'best loved books' shelf, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

Of course I read it from the library in 2000 when it first came out. Then I bought a hard copy. I'm glad I did for the front-papers are drawings of the butterflies and moths described ecstatically in the book.

I think I've read everything by

"author Barbara Kingsolver, a writer praised for her 'extravagantly gifted narrative voice'" -- NY Times Book Review.
But this time, I read the book and listened to Kingsolver reading it aloud on audio tapes as well which I ordered through the Mid-Hudson Library System on-line.

Summer's such a glorious story, teeming with characters like those we know, each couple an opposite drawn masterfully together like magnets. You know, opposites attract.

Then there's the theme of the fruitfulness of the Earth in the clutch of Global Warming, or should I say Global storming? The plight of the local farmers wed to cash crops like tobacco, and the sister with cancer, the young widow, the abandoned wife, the fun-loving coyotes. When Kingsolver posited why the top predators of their species food chains, bears, wolves, coyotes, humans, don't meet for summit conferences, I suddenly thought of our bear-coyote-cat issues differently. Predators keep prey under control. No comfort to my friend whose soybean container was sheared to the dirt by local deer.

I so highly recommend this book. It could be read every summer; it's so rich I don't tire of it.

Let's start a blog-dialogue on summer reading. I'm open to suggestions – especially if the book is a masterpiece of writing like Prodigal Summer.

Your recommendations?

Photo by niznoz


  1. If you like listening to books and have a high speed connection you can download audio-books from any of the Mid-Hudson libraries. (You do need a library card.)

    They have access to thousands of down loadable, unabridged books. You can listen to them on your computer or transfer them to an MP3 player to listen while you garden, complete your housework, or go for a walk.

    It's a great service for no charge. How can you beat it?

  2. As a published author, I am still unclear about this down-loading audio-books. Do the writers get their rightful royalities if we down-load their works to MP3's? Anyone know for sure?

  3. Garnette,
    I believe it is just like a book. When you download from the library you can only listen for 21 days. Then, like a James Bond gadget, the file self-destructs. So the author gets royalties from the sale to the library.

    If you purchase an audio book on-line from a service like, the author gets a royalty -- just like buying a book from Amazon. And, the purchaser has it to listen to permanently.

  4. Your info sounds good, libraries are authors' best friends. Still I wonder what some mega-sites are up to, i.e. Google, scanning books. I believe the Author's Guild, a legal advocacy group, is in a court dispute over writer's web-download rights. We are all swimming our way through this web-sea hoping to be equitable to all on the food chain, not just the top predators. Oh, that's thinking from Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer and another blog. Cordially, Garnette

  5. Just finished reading another Hawaiian book, besides my own Wise Secrets of Aloha I've developed a fascination for books Hawaiian. Bird of Another Heaven by James D. Houston. Found this also on MidHudson Library system On-line. The plot is intricate, both now and 19th Century during the illegal take-over of Hawaii by the businessmen. The last king of Hawaii, the merry monarch, David Kalahaua was attempting to hold on to Hawaii's possession of the Blessed Isles and bring them into modern life. He died mysteriously in San Francisco before the earthquake. Thus, great material for a speculative historian novel, drawing on Hawaiian culture, including Lomi Lomi, and its diaspora to Gold Rush California.
    I usually don't care for male writers, their style often seems hard-edged to me, but this book is terrific. Lots of drama, caring as well as betrayal. With a son in San Francisco, I enjoyed picturing through the writer's skillful language both old and modern San Francisco. I recommend this one as it concurs with my own research as imaginatively accurate. Read on! Respond, Garnette