Mixed bag of reading recommendations for pandemic times

Over the past few months I’ve been devouring so many books that I didn’t think you’d appreciate me posting a new book review several times a week. Being locked down with nothing to do other than read is pretty much my ideal life, my dream existence, but a steady diet of book reviews on BoomerBroadcast could get a bit tiresome. So, here are a few that I’ve read recently that you can peruse and see if any strike your fancy:

Click here to order Green Lights from Amazon.

Almost as soon as I started reading Matthew McConaughey’s new autobiography Green Lights I formed an opinion about the man. I tagged him as intelligent, spiritual, macho, and curious. He grew up in Texas with three brothers and parents who married each other three times and divorced twice. The book is honest about his failures and shares valuable lessons he’s learned. At times, his adventures are hilarious and other times they’re touching and sensitive. It’s a good read and you’ll still like him in the end.

Click here to order The Unredeemed Captive from Amazon.

Sometimes it’s a circuitous route to finding a good book. I was reading Mantel Pieces by British journalist Hilary Mantel when I came upon a review she did of a book relevant to Canadian and American history. The Unredeemed Captive by John Demos is the true story of the first settlers in the northeastern United States and Quebec. It covers about one hundred years beginning in the early 1700s and uses frequent and literal quotes from the diary of a Puritan pastor, the Reverend John Williams who lived in a small community called Deerfield near the New Hampshire and Massachusetts border. It’s a harsh retelling of the conflicts and compromises between the settlers and the native tribes. Until I read this book, I had no idea that kidnapping for ransom at that time was such an active and lucrative business. The indigenous people kidnapped members of rival tribes as well as white settlers and used them as currency to gain release of other captives, to obtain trading supplies, and to gain power. French fur traders from Quebec City and Montreal often hired the native people as their agents and enforcers to avoid political repercussions. This was a fascinating read and while it might be a bit too detailed for some readers, I was absolutely mesmerized by the story. The author uses an eleven-year-old white girl called Eunice who was the daughter of John Williams as a central character to knit the story together. She was captured and raised by natives while her mother and some of her siblings were murdered. If you enjoyed the movie “Black Robe”, then you’ll enjoy this true story. I loved it.

Click here to order Agent Sonya from Amazon.

The only thing that makes an espionage story even better is when it’s a true story. Now that I’ve finished reading Agent Sonya by Ben MacInyre, my life can return to normal. I’ve spent the last week of my life buried in the true story of Ursula Beurton, one of the most effective real-life twentieth-century spies for Russia who ever lived. And she wasn’t even Russian. She was a German Jew born before the start of World War I. Ursula was a strong anti-Fascist and supporter of Communist ideology from the age of sixteen. Her political commitment began when she was attacked and beaten by the police during a peaceful demonstration she participated in while she was still a teenager and living with her family.  She viewed Communism as the only viable alternative to Hitler’s Fascism. Her career as a Russian spy began when she moved to Shanghai with her architect husband in the 1930s. Her skills and contacts grew as she acquired lovers and had children with three different fathers while her ‘housewife’ persona provided a perfect cover. Ursula was instrumental in passing crucial research on The Manhattan Project to the Russians. Read it. You’ll love it.

I also started to read Julie Andrews’s new autobiography Home Work but I got bored and didn’t finish. Others may enjoy it but I found it pedantic and a bit ho-hum. Also started Toni Morrison’s wonderful The Bluest Eye which I didn’t finish as I needed something more uplifting—hence, the Matthew McConaughy book. I will return to The Bluest Eye at a later date though.

In an effort to peel my husband away from the television news, I tried to get him to read Agent Sonya which I’m sure he would enjoy, but he’s not a ‘reader’. 

Hopefully you will enjoy one or all of these recommendations. Choices in reading material are highly personal and these are books I loved. Hope you do too.

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