Reading List:June

Moon, June, Spoon… the month of June has come and gone so quickly; and with it, many hours and pages left in the darkened silences of minutes passed.

This month was bookended by two trips to Texas and back, which seemed to hinder my reading almost as much as it enabled me to read more than I might ordinarily. `Tis somewhat complicated, but I daresay I was able to consume an impressive amount of material over the last four weeks, all things considered.

Unfortunately, I started too many new books this month to finish some of the holdovers from the previous and I know that I lingered in one book much longer than I usually do.

Perhaps taking on the 1000-page historical novel Chesapeake dominated my days a trifle more than it should have?

Nevertheless, here are the works read in entirety over June`s span of thirty-odd days:

Chesapeake by James A. Michener

I could not encapsulate this giant work, to my own satisfaction, with a few pithy paragraphs other than to highlight it at its barest components.

`Tis an epic concerned with the lives and deeds of several Chesapeake Bay families over a span of about 500 years. Well-researched, thick with minute historical-cultural detail, and bursting with philosophical and theological dilemmas – not least of which is the issue of slavery from impressively defined moral/political/religious perspectives.

At times, it can become somewhat monotonous and overwrought but I have often found that diligence with Mr. Michener is often handsomely rewarded… and there is simply so much here, that anyone should be able to find a tangent of the narrative to appreciate.

Recommended for any with an above-average interest the history of Chesapeake Bay (especially if they intend to move there soon), or historical novels in general.

Some of My Best Friends are Books by Judith Wynn Halstead

My wife found this book at our local library and, as it seemed like easy reading for a lazy weekend, I devoured it over two nights.

It is, like many such books that deal with incredibly broad categories of people (in this case, “gifted” children), not utterly ridiculous in its propositions. However, at times it becomes a trifle overzealous in perpetuating the myth of the “madness” of certain types of “genius” – in that sometimes children just need to be “left to themselves” to find “their own way” of understanding their own minds.

While the author offers some interesting anecdotal insights through her own experiences as an educator, it is the quality of her research and the veracity of her ideas that easily collapse under tighter scrutiny. I also found many of her reading recommendations to be rather short of the “gifted” mark.

Overall… not an entirely bad read, but neither is it too scholarly or revelatory a work either.

The Book of Joshua

War & Peace. Joshua, a shadow of the David who is yet to come. Under the guidance of the LORD, Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan where the children of the wandering Israel were circumcised at Gibeath Haaraloth. The last of the unfaithful generation having died off, the LORD brought this generation into the Holy Land.

In Joshua, one sees both a valiant warrior as well as a humble man of GOD… submitting himself entirely to His will and leaning entirely upon His might, even in the midst of fierce battle. Wonders and miracles abound within the Book of Joshua, in addition to terrible bloody constraint.

GOD preserves and prospers His people, fulfilling His promises of old.

Before his death, having lived to a ripe old age and seen the promise of GOD brought to fruition in His chosen race, Joshua says: “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

To this, I can only assent in a hearty Amen.

The Tragedy of Cymbeline by William Shakespeare

Not one of The Bard`s better works… indeed, it seems something of a literary “medley” of many of his earlier works, almost self-referential in the very modern sense of satirical comedy. One could almost dismiss it altogether, were it not for the sinewy use of language and deft turns of phrase… to say nothing of the distinct beauty of his poetry. In other words, the story is middling but preserved by Shakespeare`s genius.

Set in the dark years during the Roman occupation of pagan Britannia, the daughter of King Cymbeline falls in love with a low-borne peasant (with a heart of gold, of course) who then makes a wager with his Roman soldier buddy concerning her faithfulness. After much tragic-comic hijinks and ballyhoo, all`s well that ends well.

Recommended only for true fans of Shakespeare… and also for Hollywood screenwriters, to see how even a mediocre story can be redeemed through brilliant craft.

I have to admit, it really seems like I only read one book this month (the voluminous Chesapeake saga) and I`ll have to remember not to so entirely let a work consume my days… unless it is, at least, as good as the aforementioned.

There still remains several books I hope to finish in the early weeks of July. However, with all that looms upon the encroaching horizon, I can only wonder at how I will be able to read as much as I would like.

So short are the hours spent in thought, especially those engrossed within words.

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