18 August 2010

Summer Reading

I recently read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an account of a young man in Africa who couldn't afford to attend school but managed to build a windmill out of junk he scavenged from his village's dump, providing his family with electricity in their home. William Kamkwamba (the windmill maker) and Bryan Mealer co-wrote the book and the narrative voice is unique and perfectly fitted to the tales that make up the work—the author's personal family history in Africa, local folklore involving witches stealing children, and the actual construction of the windmill. The story is fascinating and touching, the best thing I've read this summer.

Earlier this week I finished The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. I'd read Haigh's novel Baker Towers several years ago and liked it well enough, but she seems to have really hit her stride since then. The Condition tells the story of a wealthy New England family fractured by divorce and alienated from one another by their variety of weaknesses and fears. Gwen, the daughter, suffers from Turner's Syndrome, a condition that prevents girls from developing past childhood into puberty, but each family member struggles with his or her own condition of life in a larger sense. Like the novels of Chris Bohjalian, Ann Patchett, and Anne Tyler, The Condition excels in its spot-on character development and realistic portrayal of relationships. I really enjoyed it and wish I could get my hands on Haigh's novel, Mrs. Kimble.
(If it matters to you, it's not a clean read.)

What should I read next?

5 comments:

Johanna said...

I read "The Condition" a few years back and really enjoyed it. I thought the way Ms. Haigh explored relationships in the book was really interesting. I just finished reading "Five Skies" by Ron Carlson. I read it a few years ago and suggested it for our bookclub read this month. I thought the characters were so well drawn and I liked the whole male view.

ldsjaneite said...

Well, avoid "Mistik Lake." I'm finding it pointless and soap opera-y. I haven't had a recent "that was really good" in a long time. I think I need to find a read like that for my "break" from Summer Reading.

Anonymous said...

Considering your residence in Scotland I would recommend the series of historical Scottish fiction by Nigel Tranter. He usually writes in trilogies. The one on the Stewart's is very good. Still waiting for the last book on Robert the Bruce.

KWB

MBC said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll put those on my list.

Yankee Girl said...

Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge

and

Flyfirl by Sherri Smith

are a couple of recent favorites (both YA so both quick reads).

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