One of the best things about the beach relaxation event is the summer read. While some like to try their hand at some heavy tome, or impress their family and other beachcombers of their theological and intellectual superiority, I go in another direction. Since I am not a big fan of present day novels and don't want to use the beach to try to dig through Philip Roth or 600 pages of Michael Chabon/ David Foster Wallace, I try to find something light enough for summer and interruptions and compelling enough to keep me engrossed and away from the telly.
I briefly considered Malcom Gladwell's Outliers, but I have an interest in the ministry/ pastoral implications of his hypothesis... so it is out. I also considered How to Win a Cosmic War by Resa Aslan. His first book, No god But God is a brilliant introduction to Islam. But, seriously, do I need to read a book on religion and defense policy on vacation? The other two considerations were David Plotz's The Good Book, in which this wonderful Slate Magazine writer basically blogs the Bible, from a secular Jewish perspective and The Lost City of Z, recommended by Plotz a few months ago on his podcast.
Alas, my decision was made by the 40% off coupon at Barnes and Nobles for The Lost City of Z, as part of a Father's Day sale. Plotz has lost out 2 straight time due to coupons for other books. maybe next time.
So, what makes The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Gann so compelling? Well, besides the subtitle? The author digs into the history of the many searches for El Dorado in the Amazon, including a famous early 20th Century mission in which a world famous explorer disappears. The author, a writer for The New Yorker even goes looking for the city himself. Yeah, I know Brad Pitt bought the rights to the book and wants to star as the author, a regular shlubby Joe, but still, this could be fun. It has to be more interesting than Indiana Jones' search for the city last summer and it has a feel like a Jon Krakauer book.