Books of July & August

July and August were fluid, summer months. I’m not quite sure when I finished which books, I just know that I did as much reading as possible…and all good books!

51G-kweXZGL.jpgLife in the Middle Ages by Richard Winston – Only a nerd like me would kick back on the beach with a good historical account of how people lived their lives during medieval Europe. While most people might find this book full of tedious details, I thought it was a really complete in covering how different types of people lived during after the fall of Rome, from peasant families to clergy to royalty.  As someone who has read a lot of history on this time period, it still had new nuggets of interest. For instance, did you know that in the 1400s, Paris was once overrun with wild, man-eating wolves? People feared for their lives walking along the Rue Saint-Denis. True story.

Like I said, not everyone would be wowed by this book, but I thought it was great.

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Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule – What is it about Oregon that attracts so many wing nuts? We’ve got radical leftists and rightist, as well as a history of serial killers and infamous criminals, like Diane Downs. This book was written in the late 1980s, but the story still holds up as Diane Downs continues to make headlines 30 years later. Don’t know the story? Downs arrived in the emergency room with her three children shot at close range, and a fishy story about a stranger who accosted them on a dirt road while they were sightseeing on a Sunday night. Hmmmmm… The book covers the case from several angles, as well as the community’s perception of Downs as first an innocent victim  and then later a vilified child-killer. I had no clue she had been a career surrogate before having her own kids, or that she had seduced a local teacher into getting her pregnant during the investigation, OR that she later escaped the Oregon State Prison. My digital copy had an updated “epilogue” of sorts, and even in her more recent years in prison, she continues to modify her story and claim innocence. It’s a hefty read, but worth it.

Odyssey.jpgThe Odyssey by Homer – Midway through my trip in Greece, I was dying reread The Odyssey, having actually seen places referenced in the book, as well as just seeing the landscape of the country. Yeah yeah, I read it in 9th grade – woohoo – I didn’t give it much thought back then.

This time around, I couldn’t put it down. I was so engrossed, even missed my stop on the Max one night.

“Like pipes his nostrils jetted crimson runnels, a river of mortal red, and one last kick upset his table knocking the bread and meat to soak in dusty blood.”

How did I forget how violent, sexy, and adventurous this book was? If you’re in a Game of Thrones withdrawal, I recommend picking this one up.

5104yVWpC+L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgMy Story by Hope Solo – Just a few days before Hope Solo was fired from the US Women’s National  team, I had started reading her biography. How timely. I’ve always been a fan, but honestly after reading this book, I’m officially a Hope Solo supporter. Yeah yeah, she’s said some controversial things – but is criticizing your coach or an opponent really worse than, um, beating up your girlfriend? Going on a wild drug-induced joyride? Carefully deflating footballs? I believe Hope Solo is an ultimate competitor, and a completely misunderstood player. I learned that her dad struggled with homelessness most of her life, and was wrongfully accused of murder at the same time her soccer skills had reached a national spotlight. I learned that Abby Wambach lead a serious “mean girls”  witch hunt to drop Solo as their keeper, which they later patched up, but still…….

Whether you agree or disagree with what Hope said during the recent Olympic games, you can’t deny that her consequence is far more severe than what we see in mens’ professional sports. Tom Brady literally cheated and he was suspended for four games. Hope was FIRED. Come on, people.

It’s a young adult novel, so it’s a fast read, but it also had some fun sports writing so that I hard a hard time putting it down.

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