Jul 17

Summer Reads

by Barbara Theroux

Summer is a time for reading, or perhaps this is the year that you decide to build a Little Free Library.
Several such libraries, places to exchange books, are appearing across Montana. Read more about the movement in this new book:

Little-Free-Library“The Little Free Library Book: Take a Book. Return a Book.” by Margret Aldrich
In 2009, Todd Bol built the first Little Free Library as a memorial to his mom. Five years later, this simple idea to promote literacy and encourage community has become a movement. Little Free Libraries – freestanding front-yard book exchanges – now number 20,000 in 70 countries. The book tells the history of these charming libraries, gathers quirky and poignant firsthand stories from owners, provides a resource guide for how to best use your Little Free Library and delights readers with color images of the most creative and inspired Little Free Libraries around. For more information about Little Free Libraries – including locations – visit littlefreelibrary.org.

For those of you wanting a book for the deck, airplane or backpack, here is a selection of paperback fiction:

Painted-Horses“Painted Horses” by Malcolm Brooks
Catherine Lemay is a young archaeologist who’s come to Montana with a huge task before her – a canyon “as deep as the devil’s own appetites.” Working ahead of a major dam project, she has one summer to prove nothing of historical value will be lost in the flood. From the moment she arrives, nothing is what she expects. John H. is a former mustanger with an intuitive genius for breaking horses. A veteran of the U.S. Army’s last mounted cavalry campaign, he lives a fugitive life, driven by pursuit of one last wild thing. John inspires Catherine to see beauty in the stark landscape, and her heart opens to more than just the vanished past. “Painted Horses” reminds us that love and ambition, tradition and progress, often make strange bedfellows.

high-divide“The High Divide: A Novel” by Lin Enger
In 1886, Gretta Pope wakes up one morning to discover that her husband is gone. Ulysses Pope has left his family behind on the far edge of Minnesota’s western prairie, with only a brief note and no explanation for why he left or where he’s heading. It doesn’t take long for Gretta’s young sons, Eli and Danny, to set off after him, leaving Gretta no choice but to search out the boys and their father and bring them all home. As Ulysses, a former cavalryman who served under Custer, travels to the country between the Yellowstone and the Missouri rivers, the reader learns of his pursuit for forgiveness. This is a coming of age story, an adventure, an exploration of trust in marriage and one man’s quest for redemption.

station-eleven“Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel
One snowy night, Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack on stage during a production of “King Lear.” Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a
line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.”

the-steady-running-of-the-hour-9781476704593_hr“The Steady Running of the Hour” by Justin Go
In 1924, the English mountaineer Ashley Walsingham dies attempting to summit Mount Everest, leaving his fortune to his long-lost lover, Imogen Soames-Andersson – whom he has not seen in seven years. Ashley’s attorneys search in vain for Imogen, but the estate remains unclaimed. Nearly 80 years later, new information leads the same law firm to Tristan Campbell, a young American who could be the estate’s rightful heir. If Tristan can prove he is Imogen’s descendant, the inheritance will be his. But with only weeks before Ashley’s trust expires, Tristan must hurry to find the evidence he needs. From London World War I archives to the battlefields in France to the fjords of Iceland, Tristan races to piece together the story behind the unclaimed riches: a reckless love affair pursued only days before Ashley’s deployment to the Western Front of the Great War; a desperate trench battle fought by soldiers whose hope is survival rather than victory; an expedition to the uncharted heights of the world’s tallest mountain. Following a trail of evidence that stretches to the far edge of Europe, Tristan becomes consumed by Ashley and Imogen’s story. But as he draws close to the truth, Tristan realizes he may be seeking something more than an unclaimed fortune.

last-kind-word-saloon“The Last Kind Words Saloon” by Larry McMurtry
Larry McMurtry chronicles the closing of the American frontier through two of its most immortal figures, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday. Opening in the settlement of Long Grass, Texas – not quite in Kansas, and nearly New Mexico – Wyatt is whiling away his time in between bottles, and the dentist-turned-gunslinger Doc, more adept at poker than extracting teeth. Now hailed as heroes for their days of subduing drunks in Abilene and Dodge – more often with a mean look than a pistol – Wyatt and Doc
are living out the last days of a way of life that is passing into history, two men never more aware of the growing distance between their lives and their legends.

WILD-INSIDE-cover-image-350x543“The Wild Inside: A Novel of Suspense” by Christine Carbo 
It was a clear night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping beneath the rugged peaks and starlit skies when something unimaginable happened: a grizzly bear attacked Ted’s father and dragged him to his death. Now, 20 years later, as a special agent for the Department of the Interior, Ted gets called back to investigate a crime that mirrors the horror of that night. Except this time, the victim was tied to a tree before the mauling. Ted teams up with one of the park officers – a man named Monty, whose pleasant exterior masks an all-too-vivid knowledge of the hazardous terrain surrounding them. As the case progresses with no clear answers, more than human life is at stake – including that of the majestic creature responsible for the attack.

For a family read-aloud try:

flora-&-Ulysses“Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book “Terrible Things Can Happen to You!” is just the right person to step
in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight and misspelled poetry. This laugh-out-loud story is filled with eccentric, endearing characters and is interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page black-and-white
illustrations.

Finally, in preparation for the new book by Harper Lee, “Go Set a Watchman,” why not plan to read or re-read:

killmockingbird“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
One of the best-loved stories of all time, “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, served as the basis of an enormously popular motion picture, and is considered one of the best novels of the 20th century. A remarkable tale of coming-of-age in the South that is poisoned by prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father – a crusading local lawyer – risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Barbara Theroux manages Fact and Fiction bookstore in downtown Missoula and writes for Montana 55.

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