I know you won't believe it, but I've recently read two (yes, two!) books. The first book I borrowed from my mother in law and it was Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I've seen this book here and there but I had never picked it up to read. When I saw two copies at my in laws' house, I knew it was one I needed to borrow. The book it almost entirely true (save for a few musing by the author) and it covers the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and the coincident emergence of a horrific serial killer in Chicago. The story of the World Fair is fascinating and it's amazing how many things were accomplished in such a short time leading up the the Exposition. It was also the first place a Ferris Wheel was shown, the first time Shredded Wheat (and other processed American foods) were coming on the market and it was the first time Chicago emerged as a Major American City to contend with. The author makes the fair sound amazing and beautiful and I was happy to know that some of Daniel Burnham's work still persisted in Chicago (namely, the Field Museum where Alex and I have been twice now). The parallel story of the serial killer was quite awful (but at the same time, fascinating) to read. He was the penultimate con artist, buying insurance policies on people he didn't know, buying things on credit under an assumed name and swindling contractors out of their trade. He was apparently charming as well, as he lured a number of women into his life and into his home and then killed them when they became inconvenient. The entire story was riveting, but also disturbing. It was comforting to know they caught him, but his last crime was almost too much for me to handle. This book took me a while to get through. It was incredibly well written and gives the reader a glimpse into what the world was like over 100 years ago. It was a fascinating read and I would highly recommend it.
The second book I read was called The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks. You know what? I actually liked this book. First of all, it was free (Alex found it on the lunch table on his floor with a sticky note on it saying "free, enjoy!"). Second of all, it was a super easy read (and I really liked that after finishing Devil). Apparently it's now a movie (of course), but I gotta say that the movie doesn't look too good. The novel follows two couples, separated by a number of years. First, there's Ira and Ruth and a love story that starts before WWII. Ira is in a car wreck and he's reflecting on his time with Ruth, which was really sweet and lovely. It's nice to see a marriage reflected on after years and years of marriage. Then there's Sophia and Luke who meet at the beginning of the book and the reader follows their love story as it emerges. In the end, Ira and Ruth's story and Luke and Sophia's story overlap and the ending is sweet and tidy. Normally, I am not a real romance novel enthusiast, but this book had enough interesting tidbits in it about art and cowboying that I found it enjoyable. This book was a great summer read - super easy, somewhat delightful, well written and entertaining. If you are looking for a beach read, this is it.