Summer Reading Suggestions by Zanne Macdonald

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Article in Adult Fiction and Adult Nonfiction and Personal Picks categories.

During a hostage takeover in an unnamed South American country, birthday party guests and terrorists intermingle with interesting and often unpredictable results.
Death tells about a young German girl during World War II as she steals books, tells tales, and sustains her family and neighbors as they all encounter the horrors of war.
The setting jumps from Israel’s 1948 War of Independence to the present with the stories of 2 young men, one a carrier pigeon handler who dies of war wounds and the other an Israeli tour guide specializing in bird-watching trips. Their love stories develop and intertwine as we learn about the various interesting characters portrayed.
The fascination of this nonfiction book is in the details about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the simultaneous serial killings that occur. Many colorful characters cross the pages; among them are: Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. We see Chicago as she tries to shed her stockyard image to emerge as a cosmopolitan urban center.
This gentle book quietly moves through the combined stories of a brilliant mathematician whose memory lasts only 80 minutes due to a car accident injury, his housekeeper, and her son. The interaction is like a delicate dance as relationships develop each time they are all together within the mathematician’s 80 minutes .
In 1968, Dang Thuy Tram was 24 years old when she volunteered as a doctor for the Viet Cong. The entries in her diary cover the horrors of Vietnam War’s battlefields and hospitals until she is killed by American troops 2 years later. The diary also tells of the hopes, loves, and longings of a 24 year old woman. Very poignant.
At the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, the writer realized that “"marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." She writes of her mourning while she continued to think her husband was “about to return and need his shoes.” Wonderful insights for those who are or will be in mourning – that would be all of us.
The Middle Ages is the era that Follett deals with here. Through his fiction we learn what is was like to live in 12th Century England as king or peasant. At the center of this story is building of an imposing church, a foil to show what all people of those times had to face: violence, hunger, treachery, and fear, as they held higher aspirations.
The Israeli Oz is an amazing writer. His autobiography covers pre Israel Palestine, the Zionist movement in Israel, and the 1948 Revolution. Through his family connections and experiences, he is uniquely qualified to express his love and concern for all the people of Israel, Arab and Jews alike. His writing style is lyrical as he tells of difficult history.
This book shows us Iran through the eyes of a young girl as she grows up privileged in Teheran, but this privilege does not come with security. Her mother, an Iranian parliament member, is a narcissist and emotionally abusive to her daughter. Her father, a mayor of Teheran, protects her but ends up disappointing her. This is a fascinating look at Iran, a country that the US must deal with in Middle East affairs.