RECOMMENDED READING FOR MARCH

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As suggested by Tom Nissley, author of A Reader’s Book of Days: True Tales From the Lives and Works of Writers for Every Day of the Year (itself an addictive read):

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (1599) There may be no literary character more famously forewarned than this would-be emperor, who, in his own play, is spoken of far more than he speaks himself and dies halfway through the action.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (1850) On a Friday in March at the stroke of midnight, a baby boy is born to the widow Copperfield, into “a world not at all excited about his arrival,” thereby beginning–with “all that David Copperfield kind of crap”–Dickens’s favorite of his novels, and his most personal.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery (1908) It’s still winter on Prince Edward Island when Anne Shirley’s birthday arrives every March, allowing her to eagerly mark the next milestone in what remains one of the most beloved coming-of-age stories.

The Long Ships by Frans Bengtsson (1941-45) With the first stirrings of springs, set sail from Scandia in search of plunder with Red Orm and his restless Vikings on their yearly raids in Bengtsson’s epic, based on the Icelandic sagas but fully modern in its detached good humor.

Rabbit, Run by John Updike (1960) Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom novels grew, a book at a time, into an unplanned epic with each book tied to a season. The first one begins, appropriately, in spring, with Rabbit still young enough to feel the aches of age for the first time.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy (1961) Binx Bolling’s story is set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but Binx does his best to avoid the hoo-ha, distracting himself instead with drives along the Gulf Coast with his secretaries and with the movies, whose “peculiar reality” contrasts with the potent sense of unreality he’s burdened with.

Caesar by Adrian Goldsworthy (2006) To sweep away the mist of legend and prophecy, turn to this portrait of the ruthless but many-sided general and dictator whose name remains a synonym for leadership.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007) The Kingsolver family chose to begin their “food sabbatical”–a year of living only on what they grew, or close to it–in late March, with the arrival of the first Virginia asparagus. By the following March they were looking forward to reclaiming a few imported luxuries in their diet but were otherwise well fed and gratifyingly educated by the acre that had sustained them. (71)

Lack of communication is unhealthy.

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