I've enjoyed following the lists of summer reading books you are sharing in the blogosphere. My reading includes listening to all of the Harry Potter series on audio-book while knitting or exercising and I've limited my bound book reading to these two (which at a total of 1500 pages is not as limited as it seems).
First is Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, a physically impressive work of fantasy and historical fiction written in a style reminiscent of the Romantics; full of the uncertain mix of the natural and the supernatural that I appreciate. Imagine Tolkein and Austen, relying heavily on the editorial suggestions of R.L. Stevenson and M. Shelley, co-wrote a novel that describes the real world during the Napoleonic Wars by way of two men involved in the surreal world of magic. For me, a lover of history with a soft spot for the imagined, this novel reads like a textbook that I fall asleep and dream in the middle of. I had the same experience when I read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Fabulous. At over 1000 pages in paperback, I'll be surprised if I can finish this by the end of summer or I'll have it read in a week. You know how that goes.
Next is Doubt: A History by Jennifer Michael Hecht. The subtitle says it all really: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. I am only a few chapters in but can tell this will be one of those books I refer to for the rest of my life. I find myself nodding in agreement and saying things to the book as I read suggesting I've either lost my mind, or more probably, discovered an overview of philosophy, religion, and art that expresses my jumbled thoughts on 'It All ' accurately and with humor. Regardless of your state of faith, I would suggest reading this for a fascinating history of Doubt itself and the amazing ways this distinctly human foible has created the world we live in.
So based on my summer reads, one Romantic and one with a nod towards Enlightenment, you might wonder where my beliefs fall. Squarely between the two I suspect, which I describe (with a mysterious air to hide my inability to succinctly express those beliefs) as Heatherist to those who are unlucky enough to inquire. What are you reading this summer?