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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 6:03 am | Fair 42º


Tim Durnin: Recommended Reading for Summer, Part II

More suggestions for any must-read book list

[Noozhawk’s note: Second in a two-part series. Click here for the first part.]

Memorial Day has passed, and summer has effectively begun. Last week I offered the first entries for what has turned out to be an insightful and eclectic manifest of suggestions for summer reading. This week’s entries are no less diverse, engaging and compelling.

Let me start with Ray Morris, a hearty soul from Pennsylvania coal country with a brilliant mind. He offers Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography by Edward Rice. The book is not for those looking for a quick read. The paperback weighs in at 688 pages, but Morris offers high praise: “It is about a real person and real events, a man who went to India, Africa and was the fist white man to enter Mecca. He searched for the source of the Nile, learned 17 languages and had many other interesting adventures.” Morris, in addition to a great intellect, is also a beloved member of my family.

One of the finest teachers I have ever known and a devoted reader, Noel Enguehard, weighed in with these thoughts: “While I will be reading several books, the one I am most looking forward to reading is One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde. His writing is wonderfully entertaining, and his use of language is insightful, profound and humorous.

“His reviews often praise him as ‘the adult’s Harry Potter.’ His first book several years ago was The Eyre Affair. It is something new in fiction where characters can insert themselves into fiction and affect plots. The main character’s name is Thursday Next. I have always been delighted reading Jasper Fforde, and even in sharing these brief thoughts I want the school year to end so I can get into my Fforde!”

Fathunah Alford, a poet, good friend and someone who has served as a spiritual guide to me, offered a nod to animal lovers. “The book I am presently reading is entitled Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter. It is the charming true story of a cat that was pushed through the return book slot of the public library in Spencer, Iowa, when he was just a wee kitten. He grew to be known as the cat that touched the world. It is an animal lover’s delight.”

Cynthia Stohl, Ph.D., a professor of communications at UCSB, suggests Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. “This book provides, in novel form, a fascinating account of Harvard University in the 1600s and the role of higher education in relations between native Americans and the English settlers. It is a very well-written historical novel about a true event — the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University.” Dr. Stohl’s contribution raises the bar for potential summer reading picks.

Fellow Santa Barbara Sunrise Rotarian Betsy Munroe, Dipl. O.M., L.Ac., writes: “Honolulu by Alan Brennert is a novel about picture brides in 1914 traveling from Korea to Hawaii to marry. The book follows four women who are united by dreams, disappointment, sacrifices, struggles and friendship. It also gives some of the history about immigration and how different cultures developed Hawaii.

“The book gave me a different perspective on Honolulu as I lived there for many years and know it as the tourist trap it is today. In many ways this book made me angry and sad, but overall, I thought it was a great book.” Munroe is another fine person and a great Rotarian.

Jeanne Martin, Ph.D., recommends The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. “I study music and mythology, so this is quite a switch! But I loved this book; I wish I had read it a long time ago. It’s about 150 pages of practical advice on how to have a good relationship with money. Written in the 1920s as a set of parables from ancient Babylon, it holds your attention, and the concepts are easy to understand.” Martin’s quiet, gentle nature and talent are a gift to this community. If you haven’t heard her superb performances on the harp, they are not to be missed.

Maribeth Durazo, a fellow soccer parent and friend, offers a wonderful escape with her endorsement. “Last summer I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Since then I have completed the series. The first 300 pages were challenging to get through because it had a lot of detail and multiple characters to follow. After that it was a suspenseful page-turner. I couldn’t wait to read what happened next because it always kept me guessing.” I enthusiastically concur having just completed the series myself.

Religious educator, minister and friend Elizabeth Gregory writes: “My Life with the Saints by the Rev. James Martin was so enjoyable that I really want to read his A Jesuit Off-Broadway, which he mentions in My Life with the Saints. It is about Judas Iscariot. The producer, writer and director of the play asked Fr. James Martin (Fr. Jim) to be their adviser, and it ended up being an amazing journey for him.

“I want to find out how it all went down. Judas Iscariot is in purgatory and he is on trial as to whether he eventually goes to heaven or goes to hell. The play is about his trial, and there are saints who testify for and against him. I really want to find out what happens, but I also want to know the impact the play had on the actors and Fr. Martin.” I have great confidence in any book Gregory recommends. Besides the qualities mentioned earlier, she is deeply reflective and a fine scholar.

Julie Kielpinski, who many will remember from her days at Bishop Garcia Diego High School, suggests Murder in High Places by Hugh Pentecost. “I had never read this author before, and while this book isn’t very scholarly, it was a fun read if you like mysteries. Reading it you will find suspense, glamour and murder.” Kielpinski is one of those rare people you meet in life who touch you and remain with you in spite of distance and time — a living saint.

One late entry came in from David Firth, Ph.D. a professor at the University of Montana. His timely suggestion of Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell follows a Navy SEAL team, including Luttrell, operating behind enemy lines in Afghanistan. Firth writes, “The story of how the local Afghans take Luttrell in and protect him is a testament to what it really means to stand by an oath.” Firth is my brother-in-law and a Brit. He offers insightful comparison of the SEALs to the SAS in his response.

In my mind, the best summer reading transports the reader, and informs and inspires. The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham is my treasured read. Maugham takes the reader on a spectacular spiritual, political and personal journey with characters who are drawn from the virtues and vices in each of us. In the end, the reader is changed, transformed and forced to choose. It is in the choice of sympathies that redemption or damnation will be found — simply brilliant.

Happy summer reading, and I hope you will enter your own suggestions for summer reading in the Comments section below.

— Tim Durnin is a father, husband and serves as chief operating officer for Surgical Eye Expeditions (SEE) International. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for comments, discussion, criticism, suggestions and story ideas.

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