The days are getting warmer and they are getting longer. Daffodils are a-blooming, birds are a-chirping, jandals and chilly bins are set to be pulled out of the cupboard and dusted off, and the barbeques are set to roar. Mother Nature is warming the sand and the grass; the porches and the outdoor furniture, in preparation for our eager behinds to be sat down with a good book in hand. This is what I plan to read this summer...
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
I've already started reading this and so far it's fantastic. I can see why they call it a classic.
Synopsis (fron Goodreads): Holden Caufield recounts the days following his expulsion from Pencey Prep, a private school. After a fight with his roommate, Stradlater, Holden leaves school two days early to explore New York before returning home, interacting with teachers, prostitutes, nuns, an old girlfriend, and his sister along the way. J.D. Salinger's classic The Catcher in the Rye illustrates a teenager's dramatic struggle against death and growing up.
Nancy Wake by Peter Fitzsimons
This is the last book on my "To be read" list for 2012. I heard about Nancy Wake when she died, and became so fascinated by her story that I just had to know more about New Zealand's greatest war heroine. She was one hell of a woman; one that could, and did, do anything a man could do to serve her country.
Synopsis (From Goodreads): 'Freedom is the only thing worth living for. While I was doing that work I used to think that it didn't mater if I died, because without freedom there was no point in living'. -NANCY WAKE
In the early 1930's, Nancy Wake was a young woman enjoying a bohemian life in Paris. By the end of the Second World War she was the Gestapo's most wanted person.
As a naive, young journalist, Nancy Wake witnessed a horrific scene of Nazi violence in a Viennese street. From that moment, she declared that she would do everything in her power to rid Europe of the Nazi presence. What began as a courier job here and there, became a highly successful escape network for Allied soldiers, perfectly camouflaged by Nancy's high-society life in Marseille. Her network was soon so successful - and so notorious - that he had to flee France to escape the Gestapo who had dubbed her 'the white mouse' for her knack of slipping through its traps.
But Nancy was a passionate enemy of the Nazis and refused to stay away. She trained with the British Special Operations Executive and parachuted back into France behind enemy lines. Again, this singular woman rallied to the cause, helping to lead a powerful underground fighting force, the Maquis. Supplying weapons and training the civilian Maquis, organising Allied parachute drops, cycling four hundred kilometres across a mountain range to find a new transmitting radio - nothing seemed too difficult in her fight against the Nazis.
Peter FitzSimons reveals Nancy Wake's compelling story, a tale of an ordinary woman doing extraordinary things.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
I've always known of Hemingway, but it wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when I watched the movie Midnight in Paris that I actually fell in love with him. I've never read any of his work, but the man himself seemed like the most fascinating guy, so I decided I had better read something of his. I chose A Moveable Feast both because it's one of his most popular books, and because, all throughout the movie when they were partying, he kept saying "it's a moveable feast!"
Synopsis (From Goodreads): "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast." - ERNEST HEMINGWAY, to a friend, 1950
Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.
The Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
Next year I'm planning on reading only New Zealand fiction and I've started building up a collection of it. I recently became fascinated by Katherine Mansfield after watching a made-for-TV movie Bliss, named after one of her short stories. It was about her early life in Wellington and overseas before she was published. She is still regarded as New Zealand's greatest ever writer and, since she was from Wellington and wrote so many stories about her life here, I think she is the best author to start with on my journey through NZ fiction.
What are you reading this season, be it spring/nearly summer or autumn/nearly winter, wherever you are in the world?