Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly. ~ Pablo Neruda
Last month, I took a little vacation and did a bit of traveling, which resulted in a bit less reading than usual for me. Having returned back to reality — and an already very hot and muggy hometown — I’m reorganizing the TBR pile for summer. Here’s a look at what I’m reading this month.
The True Story of a Sensational British Murder, a Quest for Justice, and the World’s Most Famous Detective Writer by Margalit Fox
from the publisher: For all the scores of biographies of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the most famous detective in the world, there is no recent book that tells this remarkable story—in which Conan Doyle becomes a real-life detective on an actual murder case. In Conan Doyle for the Defense, Margalit Fox takes us step by step inside Conan Doyle’s investigative process and illuminates a murder mystery that is also a morality play for our time.
I’ve read a bit about his involvement with the George Adaji case, and I enjoyed the novel (and adaptation) Arthur & George. I’m excited to learn more about the other case he helped to crack.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Random House (June 26, 2018)
The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
from the publisher: In 1927 and 1930, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview eighty-six-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. Based on those interviews, featuring Cudjo’s unique vernacular, and written from Hurston’s perspective with the compassion and singular style, Barracoon masterfully illustrates the tragedy of slavery and of one life forever defined by it.
I started reading this when it came out last month and I am still working my way through it. Hurston’s ability to describe place with pinpoint accuracy is evident even this early in her career. And Cudjo’s tone is so matter-of-fact it is stunning. It’s an important work and I’m reading this one slowly.
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Amistad (May 8, 2018)
The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai by Paul French
from the publisher: Shanghai, 1930s; it was a haven for outlaws from all over the world: a place where pasts could be forgotten, fascism and communism outrun, names invented, and fortunes made—and lost. “Lucky” Jack Riley was the most notorious of those outlaws. An ex–U.S. Navy boxing champion,he escaped from prison and rose to become the Slots King of Shanghai. “Dapper” Joe Farren—a Jewish boy who ed Vienna’s ghetto—ruled the nightclubs. His chorus lines rivalled Ziegfeld’s. In 1940, Lucky Jack and Dapper Joe bestrode the Shanghai Badlands like kings, while all around the Solitary Island was poverty, starvation, and war. They thought they ruled Shanghai, but the city had other ideas. This is the story of their rise to power, their downfall, and the trail of destruction left in their wake.
I’m already several chapters in and I am hooked. I loved French’s book Midnight in Peking. His sense of time and place is impeccable and the research is stunning.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Picador (July 3, 2018)
by AJ Pearce
from the publisher: London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding.
I’m about a third through this one. It’s lighthearted and charming, despite the setting, and is a nice afternoon read.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scribner (July 3, 2018)
What are your reading plans for June?