Books: Big Reads

by anneMoore on July 12, 2009

My daughter accuses me of doing nothing at our summer house in Quebec. Ha! I practice yoga after breakfast, kayak late morning and swim fast to the island and back (about a mile) late afternoon.

alexball2In between: I read.

I read small books and big books, fiction and nonfiction, old books and those newly published. I read for hours at a time. If it’s hot, I strip down to my swim suit. surface dive into the black water, take a few strokes, float …and go straight back to my chair and my open book.

I guess that’s nothing to a ten year old. To me, it’s bliss. To read a “big” book without interruption, in the sun, beside a clear water lake.

Recently, these have been my favorite “big” reads, all consumed on that dock:

  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow, Vintage, $18.95. Sounds forbidding — and is, at 832 pages — but this is one of the most intimate biographies you’ll ever read. I learned more about U.S. business than from any text. Sounds dry? It’s not. A big life, a grand read.
  • The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright, Vintage, $17. Want to know how Al Qaeda began? I did. Wright is a gifted storyteller, and his research astonishes. I even read the endnotes. A friend tried to read this going to and from work on the bus. Impossible. It is a complex read, and we know the ending. This one deserves your full attention.
  • A Star Called Henry, by Roddy Doyle, Penguin, $15. A few pages into this epic, Greitja Morse stopped by the dock. “Ohhh,” she said knowingly, as though speaking of a former lover. “Doyle is so hard to give up.” Henry Smart comes of age, and plays a part, in the Irish Rebellion. A rollicking read. Doyle’s masterpiece.
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, Riverhead Trade, $14. My then 18 year-old-son read this in a single day on the dock, then slammed it down: “This should be taught in every U.S. high school.” A 21st century must-read, about Dominicans in the U.S. and back home. End is perfect, brutal, heart wrenching.

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