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Summer Reading, pt. 7

By - Jul 11th, 2010 04:00 am
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Contributor Michael V. Comerford III

Diving For Sunken Treasure
Jacques-Yves Cousteau

What  yells summer more than sitting out in the sun and reading about adventures on the high seas with a glass of rum on the rocks?  Normally, Jacques Cousteau books and films are about life under the sea: animals, plants, geographical formations. In Diving for Sunken Treasure, it was the first time in Cousteau’s life he had looked to gain material wealth from the sea. His expansive knowledge combined with the variety of experts on board his boat, the Calypso, made for a very methodical and detailed account of excavation beneath the surface. Cousteau teamed up with fellow diver Philippe Diole on Diving for Sunken Treasure. They told tales of the early discoveries of gold in the Americas by the Spanish, Caribbean piracy, the rise of market capitalism, then the fall of piracy, the history of treasure hunting dating back to the 18th century and the laborious work involved in digging for sunken treasure in a flourishing coral environment.

There were moments when Cousteau’s story and the 112 photographs in full color (!!!) made me feel inspired to put on the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic, which I proceeded to do when getting up to get more rum and ice. If you’re looking for something fun to read, whilst unknowingly learning about the sea, dive into Jacques Cousteau (rum optional).

Visual Arts Writer Valerie J. Christell
Devil in the White City (Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America)
Erik Larson

This is not just a story about the challenge of creating America’s World’s Fair in Chicago in the late 1800’s, so don’t walk away.  Intertwined in this amazing account of architectural and environmental one-upmanship with France, led by Daniel H. Burnham, is the story of H. H. Holmes.  Holmes’ serendipitous entrance on the scene enabled him to take advantage of the excitement that brought many young women to Chicago, and, at his hands, horrifying deaths. Larson deftly alternates between expressing Burnham’s determination to build the magnificent White City and Holmes’ drive to destroy those who were drawn to it.

Managing Editor Erin Lee Petersen

Oryx and Crake
Margaret Atwood

Set in the dystopian future, which isn’t so far off from our present day, Oryx and Crake explores the the most sophisticated developments in science — cloning, hybrid foods and even animals (like “pigoons” — pigs with balloon-like bodies, for the purposes of growing extra organs to be used for transplants).In Atwood’s vision, every aspect of life has been commercialized (owned by Big Pharma); everything is a commodity set for consumption. Leaving the confines of the “compound” and living among the a proletariat is akin to suicide. Everything is seen through Snowman’s perspective — ostensibly the last man on Earth after a mysterious biological apocalypse wipes out all of humanity. The narrative is told in Snowman’s flashbacks and juxtaposed against his present, primitive life.

As an adolescent, Snowman befriends Crake, a highly ambitious and ridiculously intellectual young man. Snowman goes off to a liberal arts school while Crake studies at the most prestigious university in their section of the world, whereupon he is immediately hired into the biggest pharmaceutical company around. Crake disdains the fallibility of human nature and begins working on a new race of humanoids — the children of Oryx. In flashback, they exist in laboratories and man-made habitats. In the present, they are alone in the ravaged landscape, and Snowman is their Messiah. Set against this nihilistic backdrop, Atwood’s masterful prose questions the social and ethical consequences of such technological advancement. You won’t be able to put it down.

Advertising Manager Curt Yorkey

Food and Wine Magazine

Books? You mean a book actually read cover to cover? Hmmm, I’m not sure if I have ever done that. I just cannot focus when there are 500 pages with tiny print on them, no matter how compelling the story. Ah, but give me my subscription to ‘Food and Wine’ magazine and I am a happy man, giddy almost when it arrives in the mail. To me, there is nothing better than sitting outside and reading all of the marvelous summer recipe’s and wines that one can get caught up into throughout the summer months. Each hour spent reading my ‘Food and Wine’ magazine, makes me feel as if I have just taken a mini-vacation.

When I have finished reading it…I read it over and over again until the next one comes in the mail. New wines, new restaurants, new recipes, new chefs; just reading about all of that takes me to “la-la” land. Bon Appétit!

Marketing and Sales Intern Joey Morgan

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

Written in first-person perspective, the story follows the journey of a 15 year-old boy with high-functioning autism named Christopher as he solves the murder of his neighbor’s dog. Christopher is intellectually gifted, particularly at math, but doesn’t understand the social nuances of everyday life. Along with discovering the identity of the dog’s murderer, Christopher also makes surprising discoveries about his parents’ broken marriage and figures out his place in the world. An easy but also very engaging read makes this a perfect summer book.

The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway

In the wake of WWI a hapless generation of American expats lives frivolously and extravagantly in Paris, France.  The Sun Also Rises follows the sojourning path of Jake Barnes and host of his diverse friends on a trip from Paris to the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain.  The nuisances of their conflict and personal struggles are continually challenged via their egos, their romances and their constant battles with their inner demons. This relatively light read is another Hemingway classic, a book that balances humor with devastating romantic tragedy. If you have any travel aspirations for the summer this is a must read.

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