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Summer travel provides a restart on love of reading

If you love to read, you know that airports and the beach are prime locations for reading. This summer I spent two days at the beach and several hours at an airport, just enough to get me hooked on reading again, so I've managed to knock out several books

My reading habit comes and goes, but if I get a good book, it can get me going again. These are all pretty good books.

My long-term attraction to John Sandford, and my two favorite fictional characters, Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers, have served me well. Sandford's "Prey" series is good, rugged, cop drama, while his less-prolific series with Virgil cast as the main character is easy-going, hippie/cop entertainment. A year or so ago I decided to reread all of those books, so that's been the extent of my reading till lately.

I must say that while I've enjoyed every one of those books, some are better than others, and, looking back, they all run together and I couldn't tell you which title is which for the life of me. Still good reading.

My first summer read was "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson. I was unsure about this one in the beginning, but it evolved into a kind of historical novel, staged around wartime in England, though it hopped around a bit. A review called it a time-travel novel, but don't let that turn you off; in the end I loved it and was struck especially by the subtle point that one simple reaction to circumstances can shape our entire life. It's worth reading and discussing with a friend.

After that came "Maude" by Donna Foley Mabry. "Maude" is based on a true story of a woman who married at 14 back in the early 1900s, and her life until she was an old woman. It was another interesting look into life in America during that era of the Great Depression, before and after. Such hardship. It would be a great book assignment for middle school-age kids and up.

Then came the summer's best book, "The Nightengale," by Kristen Hannah. Somehow I managed to pick three in a row that took place in that same time frame, but "The Nightengale" is set in France, before and during World War II. It is the story of two sisters who choose separate paths in dealing with the German occupation of France during the war, and the terrible hardships, and of course, atrocities, that each endured. Probably one of the best books I've ever read.

So much so that I bought more of Kristin Hannah's books and read "Firefly Lane." This book may very well be a teen novel, I don't know, and I didn't love it all the time. Hannah's attention to detail felt like it brought me through every mundane moment in the life of two young girls who grow up as best friends. The story spans decades. I hung in there, read every word, and was crying at the end. So, no regrets.

I threw in a Sandford book in the midst, and again, I couldn't tell you which one it was. But it was a good one, as usual. Lucas, if you ever decide to divorce Weather ... call me.

I have a stack of books now to tackle, and I'm looking forward to my next choice, though I don't know what it will be yet. I have a new fascination for wartime books, but they can be hard to read; it was such a terrible time. With all the doom and gloom talk about life today as we know it, most of us have no idea how well off we have it.

Perhaps especially in this high-tech age, reading is so important and can be so vastly entertaining.

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