Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer is Over and I Actually Did Some Reading

Outside of being crazing for crafting my next favorite thing is reading. This past summer has been one of my best summers for reading in a very long time. It was due partly to my new job at a college where I can sit quietly in the library during my lunch break as well as discuss books and other intelligent topics with those I work with. I started several books (like I always do) but was able to finish 4 of them (my usual total is about 1).

My first book really started in the spring but since I finished it in the summer I will count it as such. It was The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason, and Byron's Daughter by Benjamin Woolley. It was a biography of Ada Lovelace the mother of computer programming and the daughter of Lord Byron the poet. She was shaped by her mother’s mathematical personality. She was taken away from her romantic artist father when she was a baby by her mother so his immoral traits would not influence her. Although she was mathematically gifted and created punchcards for calculating Bernouli numbers (basis of what would be become computer programming), she would also become interested in the artistic traits inherited by her father. Her life can be seen as an allegory of the end of the Age of Romance and the start of the Machine Age. There were many things that I related to in her battle of her logical side versus thirst for beauty and art.

My second book was also a non-fiction book and coincidentally involved the history of women. I had read about Cokie Robert’s book Ladies of Liberty: The Women Who Shaped Our Nation and fortunately found it in the library. Although there were parts that made me long for a nap, there were also amazing collections of stories from the early days of our country during the time of the end of George Washington’s presidency up to the election of John Quincy Adams. Our lives today are just too easy but many of the political issues faced today are the same as then especially regarding presidential elections and the amount of mud thrown around. Many of the women in the early days of our government were very active with politics although not always the same as their male counterparts. They were concerned with their husbands and sons careers as well as founding many institutions to help with widows and orphans of which some are still in operation today. They endured many hardships with the loss of children and husbands to diseases wiped out long ago by modern medicines and many died in childbirth.

I finally got into fiction which becomes more of an escape and time passes by so quickly when reading a great book. The book I next read is written by an English professor where I work. The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by Glen Taylor is an adventurous tale about a colorful West Virginian who changes identities to escape the law several times during his life related to one youthful event. Mr. Taylor has a talent for using historical events and the native language of the past (and probably current) inhabitants of the coal mining region. It has been very well received and is currently one of the “Discover Great New Writes” picks at Barnes and Noble. I loved this book because I grew up in a small Appalachian coal mining town in Ohio not all that far from where this took place. I could imagine the characters portrayed by many of the characters in my own hometown including members of my family.

My final summer read I finished is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. He is one of my favorite authors and I had never read this book although it was sitting on my bookshelf for at least 2 years. I believe this is the ultimate look at good versus evil traits that exist in the human animal. In this story he examines how is it possible that a woman could leave her children and why a brother would turn against his brother and how a person is always good no matter what happens to him. It relies heavily on the book of Genesis for the basis of the story and has a bittersweet ending but I loved it just like all of Steinbeck’s other works.

And that concludes my summer reading program. I rarely get so much read but then again it was only a small portion of what I really wanted to get read such as when I was a young reader and my goal was to read every book in our small town library. I never imagined how many books there would be today just as I never imagined so many craft projects I would want to do. Now am going to get back to those projects although I will still be reading during my lunch.

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