The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 25, 1999


Summer reading "when the living is easy..."

Now that schools are letting out and summer vacations are just around the corner, it's that time of the year when most of us can plan on having more free time for recreational reading. With this in mind, the Mosquito is again publishing a summer reading list.

We have asked several Carlisle residents to help us compile a list of two or three books they have enjoyed and would like to recommend to others for good summer reading.

Midge Eliassen, chair of the Carlisle Board of Appeals and Mosquito photographer, recommends

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.

Fascinating examination of the cultural conflict between American medicine and a Hmong family in California, in the treatment of a child with epilepsy. Very readable.

East of the Mountains by David Guterson.

Readers of Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars (highly recommended) will enjoy his second novel, the story of a Seattle physician, facing terminal cancer and his last trip through the apple-growing territory in Washington State.

Respect by Sara Laurence-Lightfoot.

Portraits of individualsteachers, doctor, photographer, social workerwho establish relationships with their students/patients/subjects which are mutually respectful. Yields much to ponder in the face of today's lack of civility in many relationships.

Jean La Broad, retired Carlisle School math teacher, recommends:

Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose.

When I was a teenager, many of my neighbors were going off to fight in World War II. I did not fully appreciate their bravery, sacrifice and commitment to principle until, through this book, I followed the U.S. Army from the Normandy beaches to the Bulge to the surrender of Germany. Ambrose is a brilliant historian and writer (my favorite).

The Color of Water by James McBride.

This is a writer's heartfelt, inspiring tribute to his mother's triumph over great adversity. Her life with twelve children is filled with sadness, laughter and great love. Her path to success will make an impression on your soul.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.

Read this fascinating account of a poor peasant girl's transformation into one of Japan's most celebrated geisha. This novel, based on truth, will transport you to another world, another time. Arthur Golden is a Brookline author and Asian scholar.

Rosalie Johnson, Gleason Public Library trustee, recommends:

The Professor and the Madman, a Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester.

The history of a dictionary may sound like a real yawn, but this tale of the relationship between two fascinating men, and the strange events that brought them together to create a literary masterpiece, reads like a novel.

Judas Child by Carol O'Connell.

This is a wonderful mystery with wonderfully drawn characters and an ending that does not let you down.

Dearest Ones by Rosemary Norwalk.

Told in letters home, journal entries, old snapshots, and other documents, this is the love story between a Red Cross "girl" and her major, serving in England during World War II.

Paul Hackbarth, self-employed as a Shiatsu (massage) therapist since 1998, prior to that, did software development for 25 years. "I am fascinated by the notion that our usual concept of reality is unnecessarily narrow." These two books describe expanded views of our world by writers who are masters in their fields. He recommends:

The Way of the Scout by Tom Brown, Jr.

As a child, Tom Brown was trained by Stalking Wolf, an octogenarian Apache scout, in the art of stealth, survival, psychological warfare and love of earth. This book describes some of the skills and life lessons Tom learned. It will entertain you with extraordinary adventures as it illuminates the spiritual landscape of the scout. If you'd like more, Tom has written seven other books about his studies. He also runs a school in New Jersey where you can learn to perform some of Stalking Wolf's magic.

Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynman.

Feynman had a genius for simplifying and clarifying so that some of the most obscure concepts of physics seem almost obvious. This book contains the six least mathematical lectures he gave as part of a course for Caltech freshmen and sophomores. They address basic science as well as gravitation and quantum mechanics. If you're interested in experiencing the wonder and excitement of these ideas, but don't care to grind through the formulas, this book is for you. For the adventuresome, there is a sequel, titled Six Not-So-Easy Pieces. I also highly recommend his autobiographical Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.

Bob Hilton, retired librarian of the Lexington Public Library, recommends:

John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, by Jean Edward Smith.

Marshall became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in 1801, and held the office until 1835. His long and effective tenure helped define the Constitution as an instrument of the whole country rather than of the states individually.

The Ultra Secret by Frederick Winterbotham.

Winterbotham was a British Intelligence officer closely involved in the decipherment of the code used in the German Enigma machine during World War II. This development is credited with helping to shorten the war.

Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary, by Stella Tillyard.

Fitzgerald was a victim and leader of the Irish rebellion of 1798. The son of a duke, he fought for the British during the U.S. Revolutionan action he later regretted as he came under the influence of Thomas Paine and the French Revolutionan interesting irony in that his life was saved by the black American slave Tony Small after a 1781 battle in South Carolina. Lord Edward brought him back as his servant to Ireland, where slavery was outlawed under English Law. The full story of his life is well and sympathetically told by a scholar of eighteenth century English aristocracy.

Ira Gilbert, retired physicist, recommends:

Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, by Keith B. Richburg.

An account of modern Africa by an African-American journalist who is profoundly grateful that his ancestors were brought to America. He was much criticized by African-American activists whose view of the continent is much more romantic and less realistic.

A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, by Barbara Tuchman.

A fascinating view of the Middle Ages. Barbara Tuchman makes clear what life was like for the nobility in a time when knighthood was losing its purpose and the Black Death was upon the land.

The Iliad of Homer.

There are now two quite modern and very readable translations, one by Stanley Lombardo (1997), another by Michael Reck (1995). The story of the war between the Greeks and Trojans stresses the relationship between men and their gods. It is interesting that although the female gods were at least the equals of their male counterparts, that was not at all the case for mortals.

Ellen Miller, Carlisle Oral History coordinator, recommends:

Enduring Love, by Ian McEwen.

This is the best of Ian McEwen's novels, the one that should have won the Booker Prize instead of his Amsterdam. It tells a compelling story of a religious and personal obsession, and you'll be gripped by the hot-air balloon accident in the first chapter. Then I defy you to put the book down until you're done.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Bill Bryson set out to walk the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. He didn't quite make it, but his journey is informative and hilarious as we meet his fellow travelers. His irascible out-of-shape friend Steven Katz, lover of Snickers bars and sleep, is unforgettable.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson.

Anglophiles everywhere will rejoice in this earlier walkathon by Bryson, in which he ambles around familiar places in England before returning to the U.S. (he lives in Dartmouth, NH). His observations are entertaining, endearing, and often enlightening, and he excels at skewering strange British customs, appalling shopping malls, and tasteless architecture.

Albert Powers, chemistry teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School, recommends:

The Climb of My Life, by Laura Evans.

This is an incredibly inspiring and reassuring portrait of Laura Evan's personal journey as a breast cancer patient and survivor. She writes beautifully and frankly of her will to live, to dream, and to 'kick-ass.' It's 'must' reading for all who have been affected in any way by this dastardly disease. Tragically, this list includes just about everybody. (Laura Evanshas visited Carlisle. She's the founder of Expedition Inspiration, sponsor of the breast cancer walk held in Great Brook State Park. Proceeds from the book are donated to Expedition Inspiration.)

Sarah Zezima, a junior at Concord-Carlisle High School, recommends:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling.

Original characters and fantastic situations combine to make these books page-turners. But it's the humor that allows Rowling's books to appeal to adults as well as to kids. Everyone who has ever been in school will relate to Harry and his adventures at Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry.

Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede.

This is the last installment in a series of books that deals humorously with a royal family who maintains a highly unusual friendship with dragons. Middle school and high school readers will like the interaction between prickly Shiara and slightly dumb Prince Daystar, reluctant partners on a mysterious quest. Any of the books in this series are

a treat to read to younger children too.

The Silver Wolf by Alice Borchardt.

For older readers, this book tells the story of a young woman who has the ability to turn into a wolf. Alienated and endangered by her power, Regeane has to discover who are her friends and who are her enemies in this tale set in the Dark Ages in Rome. Borchardt's writing creates a powerful and complete world for the reader.

1999 The Carlisle Mosquito