One of the best things about reading is it can be an escape to another time or place.

Anthony Ascione, from Brilliant Books in Traverse City, has a page-turning suggestion written by Kate Harris, a reader inspired to follow history in real life.

‘Land of Lost Borders’ by Kate Harris

She shares some lessons perfect for today’s world in her novel “Land of Lost Borders.”

“I have been reading it and I have been finding it pretty wonderful,” Ascione says. “The author Kate Harris, when she was a child, she was a great fan of Marco Polo, one of the great explorers of antiquity. And she got the idea that she wanted to follow his route on the Silk Road, trace it herself and see all the places he had described for herself. And one of the first things she talks about is sneaking over the border of Tibet with a friend and biking under the guard check points and hiding from authorities because they don’t have visas, and they don’t have a guide. She wants to get back to that modern idea of how to be an explorer, and what she finds along the way is what we consider borders are really just arbitrary distinctions between nothing. They’re more things we use to keep people apart than they are to keep land apart. And how much better things would be if we wouldn’t focus on those arbitrary distinctions that we think make us so different and instead focus on the things that are wonderful and beautiful about the world and wonderful and beautiful about each other.”

‘The Mere Wife’ by Maria Dahvana Headley

There are some stories that have and will continue to live on through the ages, and one of those is the heroic poem, “Beowulf.”

Believed to have been written between 700 and 750 AD and written in old English, it’s likely some parts of the story were lost in translation.

At least that’s what one author believes.

“I was absolutely floored by this book,” Ascione says. “It is a retelling of Beowulf, the epic old-English poem. The really interesting thing about this is that Headley has done her own translation of Beowulf that is actually going to be published either in December or early next year. She wondered if the story maybe we know has been mistranslated. She embarked on her own translation of the story, and from doing that translation she did her own modern adaptation that is set in modern suburbia and follows two women, Beowulf’s wife and Grendel’s mother. Beowulf’s wife is the mother of a prominent family in this gated community where they live. Grendel’s mother, Dana Mills, is a soldier fighting in some unspecified Middle Eastern conflict, was taken a prisoner of war (and) believed to be killed in action, and she comes back traumatized by post-traumatic stress and has a son who was conceived at some point during her captivity. She comes back and goes to the mountain where her ancestors lived and it happens to be the mountain around where this gated community is now built. And when her son starts seeing the trappings of modern life and encounters Willa who is the wife’s name, her son Dylan world’s collide in pretty catastrophic ways gorgeous language, and the imagery she uses absolutely blew me away.”


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