Charlie's Summer Picks
Sometimes in the summer months (and especially THIS summer), I just want to unplug my brain for a few hours and get swept up in a story that is thrilling, engrossing, action-packed and fun. I Am Pilgrim is all those things and more! Imagine Day of the Jackal starring Jason Bourne or James Bond, and you start to get the idea. Perfect leisure reading whether you’re at the beach or quarantining at home.
The true-life story of two women: one a tobacco farmer whose cancer cells can to this day be found in the billions in laboratories around the world; the other a writer who, sixty years later, seeks truth, justice and recognition for the family that never saw a single penny from the companies that have benefited from those cells. Asking big questions about healthcare, social justice, the autonomy of the human body and even the meaning of life, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a vital, fascinating and thought-provoking book.
A beautiful elegy on the transience of life on a grand scale, The Bear takes place in a post-apocalyptic future that closely resembles the world our hunter-gatherer ancestors inhabited, where a young girl and her father—the last people on earth—survive each day as it comes. This book is so well written that the prose feels like poetry, heightening the sense of magic realism. A tale about the cycle of life and humankind’s relationship with the natural world, The Bear will transport you to another time and place and make you feel the simple beauty of being alive.
One of the greatest adventure stories of all time—pirates! buried treasure! exotic lands! swarthy villains!—Treasure Island is a delight to read whether you are eight or eighty years old. A perfect diversion for those of us seeking some excitement during what will surely be a low-key summer. There’s no beating Long John Silver when it comes to charming rapscallions! Arrrggh!
Think coronavirus is bad? Just wait till you read what it was like for Europeans in 1347, when the Black Death arrived! John Kelly paints a vivid picture of life in Europe in the mid-14th century, the conditions that led to the pandemic, how the plague spread like wildfire, and how people ultimately survived it. This book treats the disease like its own character—an unwieldy beast that runs roughshod over medieval communities powerless to stop it—and explores the impact on both broad and very intimate scales, often detailing individual people’s stories amidst the bigger picture. For those looking to learn more about the nature of diseases and pandemics, this is a great starting point.