Summer Reading

It’s too hot to do anything actively after 9:00 AM here so I have been able to enjoy reading a lot of good books this summer. Here are a few recommendations if you are looking for a good book to settle in and chill out with.

I like biographies and reading about events at the turn of the century! The President and the Assassin by Scott Miller was an exciting story of events leading up to McKinley’s assassination by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo, NY.

The writer gives us a good view of America at the dawn of a new century as the country embarks on a second “Manifold Destiny”, expanding its influence overseas in Cuba, the Philippines and China. We encounter such colorful figures as Theodore Roosevelt in his charge up San Juan Hill, and the activist Emma Goldman whose speeches were said to have stirred the assassin to act. I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it.

I finally completed the online Book Club discussion of The Rebel Girl : An Autobiography by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. My daughter in Philly and I decided to read it and discuss it via Skype. We spent three sessions on it and learned much more about the labor movement in America, the anti-foreign sentiment of the time and the persecution of those who were against the Great War and conscription. Two Mennonite conscientious objectors died of maltreatment while in prison, leading many Quakers and Mennonites to flee to Canada! This book was difficult to read unless you are really interested in the topic, but we got a lot out of it!

My friend in NYC recommended I read Nineteen Minutes by Jodie Piccoult after I blogged about the Japanese 13 year-old who committed suicide because of bullying. I downloaded this onto my Kindle and read it straight through in two days. It is a chilling account of what could happen in any school unless we make stronger gun control laws. Ironically, just after I read it, another such massacre took place in Aurora, Colorado. Guns are illegal here in Japan. I am glad to live in a country where ordinary citizens cannot own a gun and thus we do not need one to defend ourselves.

Tattoos on the Heart is a highly readable account by a laid-back priest Greg Boyle  who works to help Homies to turn their lives around in the LA area. I recommend this as easy to read and inspiring.

Michele Norris writes a memoir of her father, The Grace of Silence, and delves into one particular event  that changed his life… a painful secret that he had never shared with her while he was alive.

Now I am three-quarters way through reading Yunte Huang’s Charlie Chan, a very entertaining and informative book about the fictional detective and the man who inspired the character, Honolulu police detective Chang Apana. He was a legendary figure in Chinatown there from the 1880’s to the 1920’s.

As one blurb points out, you don’t have to be a Charlie Chan fan to enjoy this book as there are many stories told here! As for myself, I can just vaguely remember watching one or two Charlie Chan movies on the Late Late show when I was a preteen.  ( Or maybe I have him confused with Fu Manchu!!)

Whatever you choose, grab a good book and a tall cold one and enjoy the rest of the summer days…a great time to sit back and read!

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