I’ve been lucky so far this summer to spend my downtime with some very impressive novels (after all, what is summer for if not relaxing with great fictitious characters?). A lot of what I’ve read has been by new, up-and-coming authors. One of my favorite books is M.L. Stedman’s ‘The Light Between Oceans.’ A sympathetic look at two people’s need for a child, to the point they would do the unthinkable and have you thinking you would do the same if you were in their shoes, this book was so good that I hated to let it go. My new literary crush is Tom Sherbourn, the main character (who is worth the read alone), and I’m now in awe of 19th and 20th century lighthouse keepers who would live in isolation for months on end out in the ocean, half a day’s trip or more from any coastline.

Tanis Rideout’s ‘Above All Things,’ was a great introduction for me into George and Ruth Mallory’s life together (and the beginning of my obsession with him). Married for nearly 10 years (he died on Everest just short of their anniversary), they spent much of their marriage apart from one another. When he wasn’t climbing Everest for 6-9 months at a time, he was fighting in WWI and later traveling throughout England and America on publicity and lecturing tours. Yet, their marriage seemed to work and letters between the two (nearly 1,000 in all) show they were deeply in love. One such letter he penned to Ruth from Everest had me falling, as well. “The spur to do my best is for you and you again. In moments of depression or lack of confidence or overwhelming fatigue, I want more than anything to prove worthy of you.” Swoon…

And last, but certainly not least, is Colum McCann’s ‘Transatlantic.’ Once again he weaves his magic, building on historic events and real-life people, while mixing it up by adding fictitious characters and his distinct storytelling. Abolitionist Frederick Douglas, Sen. George Mitchell and pilots Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown (who made the first non-stop transatlantic flight) are all front and center, as well as some pretty savvy women who tie the story together. Plus, most of the book takes place in my beloved Ireland. I found it both heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. It was definitely a book that had me thinking about it days after I turned it’s final page.