Earlier this month I asked Bonwill about what she was reading. Her reply:
I am an eclectic and voracious reader. Right now my library bag contains a middle grade adventure novel, a cozy mystery, and a cookbook, all waiting to be devoured. Books are food for the soul, and my soul enjoys a varied menu.Visit Ann Bonwill's website.
When it comes to fiction reading, the common core of my favorite books is a fully realized world. Whether it's the fantastic and wholly imagined world of Hogwarts or the Irish friend next door world of Maeve Binchy, if a book transports me to a new place or allows me to see a familiar place in a new way, then I am a happy reader. For this reason I find myself drawn to books with strong settings. There's nothing like feeling the chill of the Alaskan frontier with Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child or the heat of Hell in Laini Taylor's Lips Touch: Three Times. I can picture the stark white hives of the afterlife in Lenore Appelhans's Level Two and could probably build the cereal box garden in Joan Aiken's Armitage family stories. In each of these books I'm not just reading about a place - I am there.
This summer I have read several such books, and coincidentally they all involve islands. Perhaps my sub-consious book chooser is recalling my childhood summers in Maine, where islands were just a low tide away. Though I can't be there in person this year, these books have led me there all the same.
I just finished The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. Although her latest book, The Raven Boys, is one of my favorite YA reads (love the blend of magic and real world), I had hesitated to pick up this earlier novel. I didn't think killer sea horses were my thing. Apparently, they are. What I loved most about this book was the setting - the island of Thisby is a fully realized character alongside Sean and Puck. And despite its brutal depiction I found myself wanting to move right in - the mark of excellent world building.
I'm currently reading The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson. This one has been on my to-be-read list for awhile, the first adult book I've tried from the author of my all time favorite Moonintroll series. The story of a six year old girl and her grandmother, it explores the true nature of life, death, and love through the lens of the every day mundane. Though it depicts an island in Finland, it evokes Maine for me, just as it evokes the depth of feeling and quiet reflection that Jansson's books always bring to my heart.
Read-alouds with my son have gone to the islands too. One of our favorites is Counting Our Way to Maine, by Maggie Smith, which perfectly captures the family vacation in all its sticky glory. A new favorite (though one I remember from a childhood of Reading Rainbow) is My Little Island, by Frane Lessac. In this book the island is Caribbean, and I can smell the frangipani and taste the guava ice cream. Yum!
Hope you enjoy some yummy books of your own this summer. No better time to dive in.
Read--Coffee with a Canine: Ann Bonwill and Arthur.