(To help you prepare for the outdoor reading season, each week we’re sharing a list from a different Booklist editor. —Ed.)
For 30 odd years I’ve been putting books on a shelf in my office to read “someday.” Well, someday has arrived. I am cutting my Booklist hours significantly, leaving me at least some time to read what I want to read. This makes me very happy. Except for the part where I have to somehow transport the books from my office to my house. Maybe one at time. That should take another 30 years.
Agatha Christie: An Autobiography, by Agatha Christie
I must really have wanted to read this because I have both the original 1977 edition and the handsome 2011 reprint. Published posthumously (Christie died in 1976), this book covers all the highlights of her unusual life, told in a cozy first-person voice. A quick flip-through makes it appear she touched on everything from family trouble to her romances to her writing habits. Does she discuss her mysterious disappearance? I guess I’ll have to read it to find out.
Measuring Eternity: The Search for the Beginning of Time, by Martin Gorst
I have no business reading this book. I probably won’t understand a word of it. Still, it sounds fascinating. Religious figures, scientists, and philosophers have all pondered the question: when did the universe begin? Gorst introduces many of these people and shows their attempt to find “science’s Holy Grail.”
The flap copy says this is “a compelling and engagingly written chronicle …” so perhaps that will get me through the more, well, scientific parts. But I doubt it.
Mrs. Beeton’s Complete Books of Puddings & Desserts, ed. by Bridget Jones
Apparently, in 1993 I wanted to learn how to make English puddings and desserts. And from the table of contents, I can tell you there are many, many sweets tempting enough to try: Curd Cheescake! Coventry Turnovers! Oldbury Gooseberry Tarts! But first, I am going to have to figure out Imperial measures, find a shop that carries gooseberries, and learn the difference between Charlotte Ruse and Charlotte St. Jose. I may have to trade this one for the Dummies Guide to Puddings & Desserts.
True Compass: A Memoir, by Edward M. Kennedy
I consider myself something of a Kennedyphile (as would you if you could name all the Kennedy children and grandchildren), so I’ve read my fair share of Kennedy books over the years. But here sits Ted’s book, pristine. Since he was the youngest of the original Kennedy children, maybe I thought that there wasn’t much left to say. But along with stories of his growing-up years, his time in the Senate, and various scandals to explain, this has the potential to be an awfully good read.
Walking the Bible: A Photographic Journey, by Bruce Feiler
This is not Feiler’s “real” Walking the Bible, which I also want to read. This is the offspring, the photo essay. But since I don’t have the other one on my shelves I’ll start with this. Since I write about biblical times (I’ll be finishing my book on the Temple Mount for Roaring Brook this summer), I’m always interested in books on the topic. I’ll be curious to see if Feiler has any better luck explaining who the Canaanites are than I’ve had.
As I look at my shelves I am frankly shocked that there are no fiction books here. I know I prefer non-fiction, but really, I have kept no fiction in waiting over the years? Oh well, I guess that’s what libraries are for.
But there is one novel that’s coming out this year I’m dying to read: The Life and Death of Zebulon Finch. Volume one is At the Edge of Empire, and at this very moment its author and the head of Booklist’s Youth Department, Dan Kraus, is on sabbatical working on volume two. The main reason I’m so eager to read this is because I’ve be too scared/repulsed to read Dan’s previous books, like Rotters and Scowler.
He writes horror and I’m a ‘fraidy cat, so it’s never worked out for us. But Dan tells me this is not horror (though, knowing Dan, I’m sure it has some horrific moments) so I’m willing to give it a go. Besides, I know this is going to be a big book, literally and figuratively, so I’m pleased that I’m going to have the time to read it. If it proves too much, I will retreat to the kitchen and make myself some rice pudding.