Readers’ Corner – July 2022

By Bonnie McCune & Kathleen Duhamel ~

July 15 is National Give Something Away Day. Why not give away a favorite book to spread the joy around? One that’s chock full of history, questions of culture and heritage, and religion, as well as fascinating characters poised in a controversial time and place, is The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in hot spot Belgian Congo in the 60s, a religious-fanatic, but well-meaning missionary father pits himself against his own four daughters, the local population, even Africa. The girls, each completely individual, display an astounding array of courage and initiative. A bestseller, finalist for the Pulitzer, a humanist avenue to absorb history.

Another favorite book with religious and philosophical overtones, Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo, matches a self-satisfied yet questioning intellectual with a soulful seeker after good, wearing long kasaya robes. On a meandering trip across the country, the two somehow manage to build a mutually supportive relationship. While guru Rinpoche absorbs quirky, challenging, mystifying American life, protagonist Otto reluctantly learns what his life’s been missing and almost accidently comes to absorb the lessons and friendship he needs. Anyone who’s taken a cross-country road trip will recognize the personalities and settings while gaining a new perspective and appreciation for the experience.

Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen’s 2007 best-selling novel, tells the story of a young veterinary student whose dreams are crushed by the Great Depression. After he finds himself homeless and penniless, Jacob joins a shabby traveling circus to care for its animals, becoming involved with the crew and performers, as well as a beautiful equestrian married to the cruel ringmaster. Although Gruen doesn’t shy away from depicting the hardships and challenges of circus life, including animal abuse, the result is a charming, engrossing story of love and redemption. Of special note is a colossal animal heroine who saves the day.

Author Kathleen Duhamel writes humorous contemporary romance featuring “seasoned” characters. Her newest is Fed Up. Author Bonnie McCune’s latest is Never Retreat, a suspenseful romance in Colorado’s wilderness.

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