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Jack Zaleski, Published July 31 2011

Zaleski: Still time for a few summer books

If you haven’t completed your summer reading list, here are four books to consider before August cools to fall and lazy summer times fade away:

“Paths of Glory” By Jeffrey Archer (2009, St. Martin’s Press). This novelized version of a true story is adventure saga, love story, travelogue and history lesson.

George Mallory dreams of climbing mountains. By the 1920s, after serving in World War I, Mallory and a band of fascinating characters become expert climbers – their goal to be the first to conquer Everest. Motivated by ego and the belief an Englishman should be first, the tale of their attempts to reach the summit – and the questions they leave to history – makes for an intriguing read.

Archer’s treatment of a true story in novel form brings character and pathos to the mystery that is at the heart of the book.

“Whiteout” by Ken Follett (2008, New American Library). Follett most recently is best known for his lengthy historical works, such as “The Pillars of the Earth.” “Whiteout” is a thriller that percolates along and accelerates through a series of incredible incidents and the foibles and adventures of accessible characters.

Trapped by a storm in a remote family home, several people involved (or soon to be involved) with research into a deadly virus, interact in ways that drive the story through startling twists and turns. Heroes emerge from a seething mix of distrust, rivalry, secrets, betrayal and sex. Leave it to Follett to surprise. It’s a page-turner.

“The Sonnets of William Shakespeare”

(1992, Marlboro Books edition). Not summer reading, you say? Not for everyone, that’s for sure. But I found myself getting pulled into the Bard’s world of verse and love and loss and longing.

The 154 sonnets delve into human endeavors and emotions of all kind. Not being a Shakespeare scholar, not all were clear. But every one sparkled.

Consider the last lines of Sonnet 76:

For the sun is daily new and old,

So is my love still telling what is told.

Lovely. Shakespeare’s sonnets. Give ’em a try.

“A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord (1955, Holt, Reinhart & Winston). I might have recommended the first book about the 1912 sinking of the Titanic in the north Atlantic once before. It’s worth another shout out.

Thousands of books and articles have been written about the “unsinkable” ship that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage. In recent times, new discoveries and research have added to the story of how and why the ship went down. Lord didn’t have that information when he wrote.

But what he did have was access to survivors of the disaster, including officers. He opens almost immediately with the ship striking the berg, and then proceeds with eyewitness accounts and quotations from passengers and crew – many from first-person sources.

Given what we know today about the Titanic, Lord’s book is not the most complete, but it is one of the most compelling.


Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at jzaleski@forumcomm.com or (701) 241-5521.