Fun Friday: My Favourite Reads this Summer

It’s a hot summer Friday afternoon and summer is winding down, though in Austin, Texas it is ending on the calendar only.  The heat will continue well into September.  The impending transition to all things autumnal got me reflecting on my summer reads.

I read a lot in this summer.  Perhaps it’s because it is light out longer or that I feel as if I have more time on my hands.  I’m not sure.  It’s been a summer of some really great reads which have mainly been supplied by my local Austin library.  It’s funny that, after moving away from Austin over 10 years ago, my library card still worked…after I paid the $4.79 in overdue fines left over from 2008!

My list, in alphabetical order,  is a mix of novels and non-fiction.  I started reading more novels again after learning that they help foster creativity, open-mindedness and critical thinking, so 3 of the 5 are novels, one is about business and one is about climate change.  I confess that I am not quite finished with this book, but will be before summer is officially over.  It is not a particularly happy book and it has a lot of information and facts that make reading, at least for me, a bit slow.  I have to read it in bits and pieces so I can digest it all.  At the same time, it is an important read…no crucial read given the very real effects of climate change that we are already experiencing.  I have not read his previous writings, for which he was widely criticised.  This time Jorgen talks only in terms of a future based on trends.  He cites other expert opinions on the various topics covered in the book.  He explores: population and consumption, energy & CO2, nutrition & ecological footprint and the non-physical future.  Wikipedia has a pretty good synopsis of his various forecasts.

Americans in particular will do well to read this book and see what our future might hold.  It isn’t pretty given our under-investment in social welfare,  a lack of political will to address climate issues (short termism) and a failure to look beyond consumption as a measure of prosperity.  The author does make recommendations on what we can do and in this I try to take hope (and action).

This is the story of Laura, who is captivated by the story of another woman, Barbara, who lived in another era and leaving an unhappy marriage without a trace.  She vanished.  As Laura investigates Barbara’s disappearance she finds herself questioning her own marriage and desire for freedom.  It is raw and piercing at times and I found myself writing down quotes from the book that very strongly resonated with me such as  wanting all the things associated with a settled life, but once having it for a year or two, getting restless and bored and needing to satisfy the wanderlust in me.  Laura’s experimentation with freedoms made me ask a lot of questions about social conventions on all sorts of levels and question the motivations for many decisions I’ve made in my life.  I finished this book in 2 nights and will probably read it again.

 

I read this book, because the librarian suggested it.  I’m so glad she did.  I loved it.  It is actually three stories at different points in time and explores 3 beekeepers, their relationship with bees and their relationships with spouses, children and colleagues.

William, 1852 in England who is a biologist and is obsesses with building a better beehive.

George, 1970 in Ohio, USA who is a beekeeper and fighting against the catastrophic pesticides and modern day farming and their impact on bees.

Tao, 2098 in China who hand pollinates fruit trees since bees no longer exist so the remaining population doesn’t starve.

Their stories are interwoven throughout the book with each person developing their own unique relationships with bees.  I hate to think of a world without them and parts of this book starkly illustrates the potential effects of losing these creatures so important to our ecosystem.

There are books that are worth reading again and again.  This is one of them.  My former colleague and manager, Tom Shapiro, broke away from the language services industry to pursue his passion for digital marketing and boy has he succeeded in becoming an authority on the topic.  The book, which challenges you to rethink your target audience, how your audience thinks, your goals, marketing mix, marketing metrics, revenue model and future, is so full of suggestions, resources and examples that I found myself highlighting nearly everything.  Tom’s suggestions will not only help me to better serve my clients, but will also help me improve my own marketing efforts in the coming year.  My reading list more than doubled in size after reading Tom’s book and my to-do list just got a major revision, prioritising many of his recommendations.  His natural enthusiasm shines through and makes this book a joy to read.

 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was recommended to me by an Austin friend back in May.  I had to get on a wait list at the library to get a copy and it was conveniently waiting for me when I arrived back in Austin (I like hard copy books).  The word is poignant.  Harold, who lives in Cornwall receives a letter from someone he hasn’t seen in 20 years or so, Queenie Hennessey.  On his way to the post box with his reply, he decides to walk to see Queenie.  Given that she is in Yorkshire (600 miles away), this is a very long walk.  He believes that, as long as he keeps walking, she will stay alive until he sees her.  His encounters and ruminations along the way are, well, poignant.  This book has been on many best seller lists and longlisted for Man Booker Prize.  I read it just a couple of sittings.

Fun Friday: My Favourite Reads this Summer