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Read For The Fun Of It

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10.06.23

Read for the Fun of It
School’s out! School’s out!  Who let the teacher out?
With the official start of summer vacations, it is the ideal time to enjoy some leisure reading—for teachers, students, and parents.  There is nothing like a good book to carry you away on a wonderful journey of imagination and discovery.  Here are some staff recommendations to try.
Mylinda Poteet enjoyed Stieg Larsson’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist, has been hired by Henrik Vanger to find the truth concerning the disappearance of his niece Harriet forty years ago. Lisbeth Salander, tattooed computer hacker, has been hired to do a background check on Mikael. As the two work together to solve the mystery, they find themselves the target of a serial killer. The truth of Harriet’s disappearance could destroy the Vanger family as two generations of evil come to light. This is one of the best mysteries I have read in a long time and I am very anxious to read the remaining two titles in what is being called the millennium trilogy written by the late Stieg Larsson.  Larsson died in 2004 shortly after delivering the manuscripts for the trilogy, a great loss because his talent as a writer is very evident in his work.  
Jeanne Denton says “Madeleine L’Engle has been a favorite author of mine for many years. I first became aware of her work when I was teaching middle school. I read most of her children’s books such as “Meet the Austins” to my students and to my sons, who loved them. I also read many of her Young Adult books. “A Wrinkle in Time”, for which Madeleine L’Engle won a Newbery Medal, was my sons’ favorite. I was delighted to discover that she had written many adult fiction and nonfiction books. “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art” became my favorite. When she died in 2007, I felt a great loss, so when this new book, “The Joys of Love”, came out in 2008, I was pleasantly surprised. Madeleine actually wrote “The Joys of Love”  in the 1940s. The first incarnation was written as a short story called “Summer at the Sea“. The main character Elizabeth was very much autobiographical of Madeleine L’Engle  as a young girl.  As Madeleine  developed the short story into a book, she was unable to get it published because the publishers did not feel it was classifiable. The publishers wanted her to change it and develop it more into a novel. Madeleine set the book aside, telling her granddaughters they could keep it as their own private story.  They had always loved this manuscript and had it published after her death. 
“The Joys of Love” is a sweet coming-of-age novel. The young girl Elizabeth, who believes in her ability as an actress, steps out and begins to own this personal dream that she carries in her heart. This novel speaks of the struggles of finding oneself and the discipline and hard work that is required to achieve one’s dream or vision. It is also a story about friendship, love, loss and achievement. It is about hope.  “The Joys of Love” is a lovely story that I enjoyed reading. I honestly felt like I was reconnecting with an old friend.  I recommend this book and all of Madeleine L’Engle’s books. She was an amazing person and author.
Rachel Maderik recommends “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin.  Long before Harry Potter, another boy attended a school for wizards after learning he had been born with magical powers. His name was Ged, and he started life as a poor goat herder in a place called Earthsea. However, unlike Harry, Ged always had a bit of a proud streak, and while showing off his abilities to his fellow students, he inadvertently unleashes a dangerous power into the world, and it becomes his task to hunt down and eradicate this creature.
While this book may seem like your standard fantasy story, it’s a bit unusual in that it’s filled with elements of Taoist philosophy (whereas many American fantasy novels are based on Western philosophical ideas).  Also, magic works in a specific way in the Earthsea novels, and it's partially based on language. Wizards perform their magic by learning a language called the “Old Speech”, but unlike most languages, where words are arbitrary sounds used to identify objects or concepts, in the Old Speech, a word and the object it describes are the very same thing. So if a wizard knows the “true” name for an object in the Old Speech, he has power over the essence of the object itself. It's a really interesting idea that plays out well throughout the series of five books. There are situations where two different objects have the same “true” name, or where one person has two different names; both of these situations disrupt the balance of magical power in Earthsea, and usually it's up to Ged to sort them out. While this first book in the series is sometimes considered a children’s book, you don't need to be young to enjoy it; even though I read it for the first time as an adult, it's near the top of my list of all-time favorite books.              
For these and many other entertaining books for your leisure hours, visit us at www.tcplweb.org or call 988-2541.

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