Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Summer Reading

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve sat waiting for Becca to come out of various activities or been at airports waiting for planes to take off, I’ve finally had the chance to get a lot of “summer reading” done.

I’ve made through all four of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies trilogy. I really enjoyed the new world developed in Uglies and elaborated upon in Pretties a lot. By the time I got to Specials however, I’d sort of lost interest with what would happen to Tally Youngblood and her friend Shay since that volume didn’t seem to contain any more creative developments about the world in which they were living. Extras was exactly the opposite. The idea the fourth volume took on was a very creative one, but I just couldn’t get into it because none of the lead characters (all different from those in the first three books of the trilogy) really interested me. I’m glad, though, that I stayed with Extras to the end since the last part of it was the best.

I finally got the time to read Michael Shaara’s Killer Angels, a novel that does a superb job of capturing the personalities involved in the decisions at the Battle of Gettysburg and gives a much less textbooky feeling to the issues that drove the Civil War. I also read Rise to Revolution, the book about the beginnings of the Revolutionary War written by his son, Jeff Shaara. Of the two, I think I preferred the latter, though not because it was better written, but because I enjoy the time of Adams and Franklin with its international issues more than that of Buford, Longstreet, and Lee with their more narrow national focus.

Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad was a delightful change of pace! I loved the way she developed the story around the hanging of the twelve maids, played with the symbolisms throughout the Odyssey and brought several of the characters who were mere placeholders in Homer to life in her book. If I ever teach the Odyssey again, I think I’ll use it as a supplemental reading.

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