Sunday, June 7, 2009

La Cañada Valley Sun: Summer reading

Around Town:
Summer reading

By Anita Susan Brenner
School’s out. Summer’s here. Time to get educated. Top ten lists are not just for David Letterman. Jay Leno is retired, so here’s our annual list of books:

1. Memorial Day has come and gone, but Bill Murphy’s “In a Time of War, The Proud and Perilous Journey of West Point’s Class of 2002” is now out in paperback. World War II affected all Americans, but the current wars affect very few. Murphy reaches across the civil-military divide to profile La Cañada High grad, Army 1st Lt. Todd Bryant.

2. Maeve Binchy lives! She even has a website. Her latest book, “Heart and Soul,” a love story set around a heart clinic in Dublin, reintroduces Quentins restaurant and characters from other novels, including Nora from “Evening Class” and Maud and Simon from “Scarlet Feather.” I don’t know why, but Maeve Binchy is one of the few authors I read on airplanes. Her stories are comforting in the worst of circumstances.

3. If you want a look into the Israeli psyche from the point of view of an expat American, read this book. Daniel Gordis is a former Angeleno, whose newest book, “Saving Israel,” addresses the political issues of the Middle East from a unique perspective, and proposes interesting solutions.

4. Ground zero for Christian Process Theology is down the 210 at the Claremont Graduate University’s School of Religion. Process theologians and others will be happy to learn that “The Personhood of God: Biblical Theology, Human Faith And the Divine Image,” by Yochanan Muffs, is finally out in paperback. Rabbi Muffs relies on his expert knowledge of pre-Biblical sources to make the case that God, as portrayed in the first five books of the Bible, is dynamic, changing, and involved in a relationship with humans, unlike the Hellenistic portrayal of the divine as uninvolved and distant.

5. You can’t go wrong with Elizabeth George. Inspector Thomas Lynley returns, in paperback, in “Careless in Red,” in a somewhat depressing saga. Lynley, a Scotland Yard detective whose pregnant wife, Helen, was murdered a couple of novels ago, wanders into a murder scene on the coast of Cornwall. I’m not sure what’s going on with Elizabeth George these days, but “Careless in Red” is better than most of the dreck that’s out there.

6-9. Anything by John McPhee, writer of documentary non-fiction, award-winning retired Princeton professor whose influence is still seen in the New Yorker. All of his books rock, including “Oranges,” “Coming into the Country (Alaska),” “Uncommon Carriers” and “The Control of Nature.”

10. Another golden oldie is “The Outlaw Cook” by John Thorne. Foodies beware. Your kitchen will never be the same.

ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at La Cañada Valley Sun: La Cañada Flintridge, California

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