Oh, I love the ease of summer reading. A summer read can mean different things for each reader. Some people come into the library asking for an engaging romance, some prefer a good thriller and others are drawn to non-fiction – a book that will help them in starting or finishing a big project like completing a deck or fence. And let us remember that Lin-Manuel Miranda took Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton on vacation a few years ago and look where that led. If you can’t decide what you want to read over the summer months then staff here at WPL are the absolute experts at helping you to find the right thing.
One of the choices on our Spring 2018 Featured Titles list was Feather Thief: beauty, obsession, and the natural history heist of the century. I was looking forward to reading this book because I so enjoy any book that involves a heist (I blame this on watching Ocean’s Eleven so many times that I have Rusty’s dialogue, food choices and wardrobe memorized) and the added excitement of the thief stealing from the British Natural History Museum made it almost irresistible. I wasn’t prepared for the incredible amount of work the author, Kirk W. Johnson, had put into interviewing the detective who solved the crime, the museum curators who obviously suffered when their beloved artifacts were stolen, the friends who felt betrayed by the thief’s horrible actions and the time he spent trying to find out exactly what happened. The book is just amazing – I couldn’t stop telling people about it. Obsession is exactly the word to describe this crime because, once you read the fascinating history of how these feathers arrive at the British Natural History Museum, you become as attached to their fate as the author was. It feels like an affront to even imagine that this man – a young American named Edwin Rist – would steal these treasures for his personal use. I wanted to reach into the book and give him a good shake. I’m sure this book would captivate any reader; fans of natural history, anyone who likes a tale of quirky personalities or a good British crime story. It’s so much more than just feathers.
If you are looking for cooking inspiration we have something absolutely gorgeous here on the shelves. When this arrived cookbook here in the library it was an instant thrill. It featured the word peach in the title and the book’s publishers had covered it in a kind of soft flocking as if it was soft like a peach. We actually picked it up to see if it also smelled like a peach – remember the old days of scratch ‘n’ sniff? It does not smell like a peach. I’ll save you the trouble of hoping that it does. The peach in the title does refer to the idea that sometimes simple and perfect is best, especially during the warmer months. The author, Diana Henry, suggests that you provide a bowl of these perfect fruits in the centre of the table at the end of the meal so that family or guests can enjoy them together. She provides simple suggestions like this one in How to Eat a Peach and also some so complicated that I’m not entirely sure we would be able to source the ingredients easily here in town. In fact, in one recipe she provides a website reference so that you can order the items required to complete a pudding. Although, the rest of the ingredients were so easy to find and the description so incredible I did think of making note of the site’s address. This is the kind of cookbook that is perfect for summertime reading. She writes so beautifully of time spent shopping for ingredients, travelling with friends and having those moments inspire her cooking, and the pleasures of preparing a table that you almost don’t have to cook anything – just reading the book is enough. And, if you do feel compelled to actually use this cookbook for cooking she has provided at least ten wonderful ice cream recipes and you know they will come in handy as the temperatures rise.
Our collection of landscaping and gardening books are almost as exciting to me as those on the cookbook shelves and exactly the thing to provide guidance if you are working on a project for your home over the summer. DIY Network’s Sara Bendrick has written a book that allows you to personalize your outdoor spaces using inexpensive materials, her unique suggestions (and clever tips for saving money – the book is a fascinating and useful read) and your own hard work. There are step-by-step, extremely clear instructions and loads of wonderful photographs that take the fear out of attempting simple weekend ideas like making a dry creek bed or something more involved like building a retaining wall or fire pit. This book isn’t all about stone and concrete though, she also includes wonderful projects involving wood and soil and has helpful tips for things to consider when purchasing different materials for use outdoors. It’s a truly useful resource but in such a colourful and entertaining package. She even includes a worm composting bin – this is a book that has something for everyone.
My Lady’s Choosing is the romance novel that I didn’t know I was waiting for. It is a choose-your-own-adventure novel for adults and it really works! Surely you remember choose-your-own-adventure books from your younger days or from 2014 when Neil Patrick Harris tried the format with his autobiography. In this Regency-style romance written by two women in Chicago you have the chance to choose between storylines that have you finding true love with a Scottish war hero, Captain Angus McTaggart (perfect for fans of Outlander), a baronet named Sir Benedict Granville (a touch Mr. Darcy), and the one man you know that you should never choose – Lord Garraway Craven. The style will take a few pages to get used to but you are soon invested and will just have to hold on to your seat as you follow along and get swept away by the twists thrown at you by Larissa Zageris and Kitty Curran. They have packed every single romance cliché into their 352 illustrated pages including being forced to work for a mean dowager, visit gloomy gothic manors, dance in packed ballrooms and then add some you might not expect (or maybe you will if you read a lot of romance novels). It’s a book that keeps you coming back for more because, you can, just choose another path the next time. If you don’t feel like you wanted to end up in the Scottish highlands with Captain Angus then turn to another page the next time you read and find romance with Benedict Granville. Such wonderful summer fun in this book from a team of authors that I will be watching closely.
And if you are interested in something a little Chernow-ish we can also help you there. We will find you a hefty biography about an early American political figure or another inspiring biography to help you enjoy your summer hours or maybe write an award-winning Broadway musical. WPL is here for you.