We at the CUA Press staff can’t satiate our rampant bibliophilia with just making books. From fiction to nonfiction, textbooks to graphic novels, these are the titles that we’ll be reading in the upcoming weeks.
I’m currently reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Pam Jenoff, called The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach. It’s about Adelia, a woman who flees fascist Italy to Philly in 1941 and makes friends with an Irish Catholic family. It follows her on her journey to find a sense of purpose and home during WW2. I’ve got a friend who’s into WW2 historical fiction as much as I am, and we constantly trade books, of which this was one.
The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction is something my wife the librarian checked out, but I am loving it; it’s a combination of reporting scientific studies and waxing poetic regarding the real advantages that reading aloud has for building imagination and bringing literature to life—and not only for small children. I’m listening to the audiobook, naturally, only when I’m in the car; the author, Meghan Cox Gurdon (children’s book critic for the Wall Street Journal) is a genuinely enchanting narrator (and I have heard many). At my bedside are Solutions and Other Problems, a strange graphic novel about the apparent absurdity of life (not as amazing as Allie Brosh’s first, Hyperbole and a Half, one of the funniest books I have ever read), and Beyond Honey by Tierney Monahan (a friend of mine), about the positive social impact of bees and beekeeping.
I’m about to start Harlem Shuffle, a novel by Colson Whitehead. He’s found fame in the last few years with The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, but I’ve been a big fan of his for many years, I think this must be his 8th or 9th book? Per the publisher, the book is “a gloriously entertaining novel of heists, shakedowns, and rip-offs set in Harlem in the 1960s.” Looking forward to reading it!
I’m finishing up some summer fluff. Just wrapped up the audiobook version of People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. It was fun but fairly predictable! An easy listen. I’m just about done with Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Malibu Rising. It’s been better than expected. Some twists and turns.
I like to read Chesapeake by James Michener before bed. It’s historical fiction about a community on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from prehistory to… I don’t know how late since I haven’t finished it yet (it’s thick). I also just partly re-read They Fought Like Demons: Women Soldiers in the Civil War by De Anne Blanton and Lauren Cook and Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott in order to do a living history presentation on Emma Edmonds, a.k.a. Franklin Thompson, a soldier of the 2nd Michigan Infantry in the Civil War who was present at both engagements at Manassas and worked in some regimental hospitals in Alexandria.
The Anatomy of Story by John Truby is my catch-up reading for the screenwriting class I never took. Truby is perhaps a little more prescriptive than he thinks he is, but his system for story creation and development is truly enlightening, especially in comparison to my other favorite book on narrative development, Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. Vogler is more abstract and focused on the whole meta-narrative compared to Truby’s practical ground-up approach to story construction.
I have recently finished a book, recommended by the esteemed Dr. Okuma of the CUA English department: Katy Carl’s As Earth Without Water. Part spiritual self-reflection, part examination of conscience for a romance-goes-wrong, As Earth Without Water is the story of a traumatized novice monk and the emotional support he gets from his former flame and fellow painter, Angele.