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Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
We always try to find a range of favorites for our Best Books of the Month list "“ and we think we've done a particularly good job for July. From the great old fashioned yarn that is Circling the Sun to the Bill Bryson-ish nonfiction feat, The Oregon Trail, here are the first five of our top ten.
Circling the Sun: Paula (The Paris Wife) McLain's engrossing story of love and adventure in colonial Africa comes complete with gorgeous landscape, dissolute British ex-pats, and lots of derring-do with horses, motorcars and airplanes. At the center of the novel is Beryl Markham the headstrong daughter of a British colonial who grew up in Kenya and became an expert horse-trainer, and, later the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. But she was no cardboard feminist, as I wrote in my review. She was more "a girl who grew up pushing back against conventions that got in her way."
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: A book so topical, so of the moment that the publisher decided to put it out a few months earlier than planned, Coates' examination of race in America is "required reading," by a writer "who might fill the intellectual void" left by James Baldwin, says author and Nobel winner, Toni Morrison. Written as a letter to his adolescent son, Between the World and Me is both public and personal, intellectual and emotional. A tour de force.
Speak by Louisa Hall: A tough novel to describe, Speak is told from multiple points of view, mostly through letters and transcripts, but the voices accrue to present a profound and illuminating whole. "This is a smart book, and Louisa Hall is tackling some big questions, namely what does it mean to be human?" our editor, Chris Schluep wrote.
Confessions of the Lioness by Mia Cout A mystery about the women of the remote village of Kulumani and the lionesses that hunt them, Mia Couto's dark, poetic novel shimmers like a diamond in the rough. It's a "fable-like tale," said our reviewer Al Woodworth, and alternates between the stories of a young woman the village and the hunter who is haunted by his past and his profession. Translated from the Portgugese, "it's direct, beautifully woven and imbued with a sense of wisdom that feels, like the animal it chronicles, majestic."
The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck: Some reviewers have compared this non fiction account of travelling the length of the Oregon Trail the old fashioned way "“ in a covered wagon "“ to the work of Bill Bryson. It's that unpretentious and that funny. Its publisher couldn't have described it better: "At once a majestic journey across the West, a significant work of history, and a moving personal saga, The Oregon Traildraws readers into the journey of a lifetime. It is a wildly ambitious work of nonfiction from a true American original. It is a book with a heart as big as the country it crosses."
Stay tuned for part two of July's Best Books of the Month on Friday.