Staff Picks: Summer Readin’ & “Pole Vaulting Into Eternity”
Many of us who love to read find that during the summer months, when we are busy with vacations and lawn and garden projects, we tend to read lighter fair–the type of book you can read and put down and pick up again even if you’ve been away from it for a few days. As you can see, that’s exactly the type of material some of the members of library administration have spent reading after busy summer days and evenings.
Like everybody else, I can’t seem to get enough of books like Downton Abbey. Luckily there have been a number of books published about that time in England, some from the perspective of the downstairs staff, some from the gentry upstairs. Recently, I discovered The Passing Bells Trilogy by Phillip Rock. Published in the early 1980’s, the books – “The Passing Bells,” “Circles of Time” and “A Future Arrived” – follow the Greville family and its friends from parties, dances and romances to the battlefields of the Great War and onto the transitional years leading up to WW II. The books are, as one review states, “immensely energetic, top entertainment in the Upstairs, Downstairs vein, complete with bubbling family gossip.”
–Maria, Library Director, Warrenton central library
I recently discovered the author Julia Glass. Having read several of her novels, Three Junes is definitely my favorite. Featuring the Scottish McLeod family, in particular Paul and later son, Fenno, we watch as a family that loves each other weaves in and out of each others lives in unexpected ways. And we are reminded that even as adults, the family dynamic that is developed during childhood remains intact well into middle age; sometimes family becomes those we have no blood relation to. After enjoying “Three Junes,” I moved on to And the Dark Sacred Night because the complicated family of Malachy Burns, a key figure in “Three Junes” —is at the center of the story. While “Dark Sacred Night” is a good read, it doesn’t have the depth of “Three Junes.” I’ll keep Julia Glass as an author to turn to again, but maybe not right away.
My other favorite read of the summer was Spring Chicken: Stay Young Forever (or Die Trying) authored by Bill Gifford. Gifford, a journalist who writes primarily about science, sports, health and fitness, provides a broad examination of the science around aging and longevity. While one might think this would be “heavy read,” it really isn’t. Gifford’s journalistic skills and personalization of the topic make it a very readable work of nonfiction. He introduces the reader to pole vaulting senior citizens, a 106 year-old man who still runs the family financial business, and the search for the fountain of youth by celebrities such as Suzanne Somers. The nugget of wisdom I drew from this book is that longevity is chalked up to good genes and to a certain extent, common sense in regarding food consumption and exercise. On that note—may we all live long and prosper.
–Dawn, Public Services Manager, Warrenton central library
Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? Stop by the reference desk at your local library. Additional staff picks and book club roundups are available online.