This ‘n That: The Nightingale soars

By Mims Cushing
mail@floridanewsline.com

Yesterday, waiting for our pool aerobics class to start, I chatted with a woman about reading.

She said, “I have 440 books on my Kindle.”

I was aghast. But then I asked, “How many of them have you read?’

“Nearly all of them,” she said.

Can you imagine? 440! And to think the Kindle has only been around for 10 years. It cost in the $400 range back then. When my son won a Kindle in 2007, he gave it to me. It didn’t have the capability to tell you what page you were on or how many pages you had left to read and all the other goodies we have today. (FYI, the iPhone also came out in 2007, in June.)

I have just finished “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, (2015) which I consider one of the very best of books I’ve read in the past few years. Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch” (2013) is another. What is it about birds? “The Nightingale” has fast-paced energy and a poignant storyline. Hannah has done a beautiful job with characterization. Endings often leave one let down, but the ending of this book gave me chills and made me teary-eyed The movie coming out in 2018 will have a tough time topping this.

In the early to mid ‘90s, when I wrote book reviews regularly for the Florida Times-Union, I received so many books from publishers it made me dotty. And publishers say you never need to review books you don’t like. At the end of that time, I realized I was choosing their choice of books that, although delightful, I might not have chosen had I picked what I wanted to read. So, I stopped accepting the review books and went back to chasing after what I wanted to read. Now I’m back to doing a few reviews, now and then, though publishers aren’t sending out 10 free books a week. Alas, things change.

It’s wonderful to tell people about great-escape books. A friend of mine started the book at my prompting, and she announced she was on Chapter 34 in a day! Clear the decks. You’ll want to read it the way you watch those Netflix series that you gobble voraciously.

One of my sisters is a self-proclaimed Smart One. She wouldn’t be “caught dead reading a bestseller.” Which strikes me as a huge mistake. Of course there is some trash out there, but some popular books are treasures, such as these books from the New York Times Bestsellers’ List: “Unbroken” and “Seabiscuit” by Hillenbrand; “All the Light You Cannot See,” (Doerr); “Dead Wake” (anything by Erik Larson); “The Wright Brothers” (McCullough) and others too many to mention. The Smart One has just finished “War and Peace.” Again. And reads other books that I once read in high school using Cliff’s Notes. (The things I admit to in this column.)

I feel bad for people who don’t read. But I shouldn’t because they surely have other enjoyable things that take the place of reading such as exercise, boo hiss.

I was given endless names of great books friends have loved when I visited Connecticut recently. Friends swooned over the non-fiction book “Citizens of London” and also “Undaunted.” My choir leader told me to read the fiction book “The Chillsbury Ladies Choir” and the non-fiction book “Imperfect Harmony, Finding Happiness Singing With Others,” which I just finished. You must read this if you are in a choir or chorus.

It’s hot. It’s summer, which means it’s a great time to read. If you have a great book you’ve just put down, email me in care of this newspaper. Thanks! I’ll always put one more on my list.