Monday, May 4, 2009

My Belated Summer Reading List '09

Having some teeth extracted to make way for partial dentures is not my idea of enjoying the summer break. And so to distract my mind from the pain and to while the time while my gums heal, I immersed myself in reading some of Jack Ketchum's fiction: Off Season, Offspring and Peaceable Kingdom.

I'm glad to have found Ketchum's Off Season and Offspring this late. The earlier editions were abridged due to some gory scenes involving cannibalism. The books (in their restored texts) sure were the perfect foil to the hunger pangs brought on by the soft diet imposed by my dentist. Ketchum (whose real name is Dallas Mayr) is now getting the recognition he deserves. Some books of his had been/are being filmed (Offspring, Lost, Girl Next Door, etc).

Based on a true story in the 60s, The Girl Next Door is the story of a teen-aged girl who suffers abuse from a family that took her and her sister in after their parents died and other people in the community. It is also the story of how an adult holds sway over kids who know no better and the kid who is torn between the attraction of cruelty and the gut-feel of doing the right thing.

I have started reading this book of Ketchum's short stories. The stories are scary and stick to my mind like a last-song-syndrome (LSS). Ketchum now joins my list of favorite stellar authors.

I have not been able to smile the way I used to in the last two years due to some missing teeth and the penchant of some people I talk to of staring at my missing teeth. And so in looking forward to having partial dentures to complete my smile, I'm reading A Brief History of the Smile by Angus Trumble. Trumble explores various aspects of the smile as an involuntary reflex, a mating call, as a default facial expression, among others. There is no better preparation than this book in getting my original smile back. :)
The son of millionaire Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper had to earn the respect of others the hard way and through hard work. As CNN reporter, Cooper gives his readers his first-hand accounts of chaos and conflict from the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the war in Iraq and the Typhoon Katrina aftermath in New Orleans and Mississippi.

As my fave author, Bob Greene never fails the reader in me. Here he tells the story of a childhood friend who is dying and how his friends saw him through to the end of his journey. Sentimental, true, but rightly just so. Anyone who doesn't get this book never had the privilege of experiencing true friendship.

A satisfying read to someone like me who loves musical theater. The book chronicles various points in Sondheim's life and the genesis of his musicals. The back stories of his musicals are so deliciously interesting. I'm now savoring how A Little Night Music came to life on stage. I can't wait to read about my favorite song, Being Alive from Company and the story behind Sweeny Todd.

I want this book by Bob Buford to cap my summer reading. The blurb convinced me to buy the three-book Philippine reprint: ". . . when you've accomplished something yet find yourself asking Is this all there is to life? Is there something more?"

Buford makes use of exemplars to show how we can make our lives richer and more meaningful and start living with the finish line in mind.

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