Summer Reading Reviews: The Final Chapter

The kindle has been given away, the prizes are almost at an end, and there is no denying that fall is just around the corner. Don’t despair just yet though. We still have several great reviews to highlight here from the Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Thanks to all who participated this year, and especially to those of you who sent in reviews. They were a pleasure to read and it was hard to choose just a few to publish.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Reviewed by Shannon R.)

I picked up this book because I love baseball, but I kept reading because I was intrigued by the characters, and wanted to learn more. The Art of Fielding plays against the backdrop of a small college, as a baseball prodigy leaves his small town for the first time to pursue dreams of playing at the next level with the team’s catcher and veteran leader. Soon, the significance of other characters emerge – his roommate, the college president, and his daughter. As the characters field challenges in their own lives and in their interplay with one another, they change each other in surprising ways. The story unfolds slowly, reminiscent of a John Irving novel, but gains momentum until it builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Reviewed by Diane W.)

Anyone who thinks presidential politics today are unique in their intrigue, money sources or sheer political invective needs to read this biographer’s multi-volume life of our 36th president, Lyndon Johnson. Scorned for his Texas manners, underestimated and dismissed by his critics, they missed the enduring contributions of this towering figure. On his watch were passed some of the most important legislation in U.S. history, including Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and other achievements of the War on Poverty and the Great Society. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Johnson Space Center, home of NASA, developed with his strategic support. This volume also deals with the Kennedy assassination with page turning novelistic urgency. One final volume is to come in this brilliant series.

The Affair by Lee Child (Reviewed by Donald S.)

A great beach read! Loner and tough guy Jack Reacher, Army MP Investigator, travels to Mississippi to investigate murders near a remote army base. He never brings more than a toothbrush, never stays in one place very long, but always ends up in the thick of things. If you have to put this book down do it in the middle of a chapter, because the cliff hanger at the end of each will keep you turning pages in this fast paced book.

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (Reviewed by Laura N.)

Graphic, funny, and fast paced, I could not put this book down. (Note: Those who are not a fan of “explicit” language will not be amused.) I had picked this up on a whim only to find it suited my summer reading mood perfectly. The framework of the plot owes deeply to Elmore Leonard’s work, but think of this as the 21st century version. I read this one first, but am looking forward to its predecessor, Beat the Reaper.

The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair And Its Legacy by Paula Becker (Reviewed by Colleen M.)

Seattle City Councilman Al Rochester’s idea of a major world fair began in the early 1950’s, and by the end of the decade it had gained enthusiastic support from business and community leaders, as well as from the public.

Seattle lacked a civic center to serve all of its neighborhoods, particularly for  entertainment, the arts, and sports.  Building such a center would necessitate the demolition of hundreds of homes and other structures.  A world’s fair afforded the city the opportunity to do just that.

When the USSR launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, in October 1957,  the nation was propelled into the space age.  It was only natural that the fair turn its focus to modern science and space exploration.  Whereas earlier fairs commemorated the past, Seattle’s commemorated the future.

Scores of songs were composed to welcome visitors to the fair.  Many were rejected, but the most ‘official’ song was “Meet Me In Seattle (At The Big World’s Fair)”.  Fair officials heard it at the debut of lounge singers Joy and the Boys, and gave it their approval.

On April 21, 1962,  President Kennedy officially opened the fair using a gold-encrusted telegraphic key that had been used by President Taft at Seattle’s Yukon-Alaska Exposition in 1909.  The fair drew millions of visitors and celebrities during the next six months.

I was a young adult living in downtown Seattle in 1962; it was nearly impossible to ignore the energy and excitement that had radiated through the city.  I actually liked the catchy tune and lyrics of the fair’s song – “meet me in Seattle, that’s where I’ll be at I’ll meet you in Seattle at the fair”.

This book is a beautiful collection of narrative, photos, illustrations, and memories of an amazing event that put Seattle on the map and changed it forever.  Large, with glossy pages, it is a perfect gift.  I received it on my birthday last month; it now sits on my coffee table.

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