10 suggested summer reads
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I’m usually an avid reader during the winter. With shorter days and cold nights I find that I just want to hunker down under a blanket with a good book. During the summer I start to slack. My garden usually takes up a good chunk of my free time, so sometimes reading can get pushed to the back burner. Unless I find a really good book. Then it’s on. For me, there’s nothing like sitting on my back patio with a cold beverage (of the adult persuasion usually) in one hand and a good book in the other. Following is a list of books, some I’ve read and some recommended by friends, that will hopefully make you stop and read for a while this summer.
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s on my list. I heard an interview with the author on NPR and really enjoyed it, but didn’t commit her name or the title of the book to memory. But the image she described of her taxidermy hamlet mouse stuck with me. A few weeks later I asked a friend for some suggestions for this post, and this book was one of them. When I pulled it up on Amazon, and saw the picture on the cover, I knew this was the author I heard interviewed! The book is a “mostly true” memoir about the authors life experiences growing up in rural Texas, antics throughout high school, her relationship with her husband, and everything awkward in between. Her humor is witty, funny, dirty, offensive, and a brand that not everyone will love, but many will appreciate. Most reviews call this book laugh-out-loud funny, and that is exactly what my friend said about it. If you’re curious about the author check out her blog.
The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
This is a fascinating novel that intertwines truth and fiction. The book toggles between the story of Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s infamous 19th wife that fought to outlaw polygamy in the United States, and a murder mystery in a modern day FLDS town. The murder mystery narrative was good, but I really found the narrative of the early development of the Latter Day Saints religion to be riveting. Although embellished, the account still paints an accurate picture of how the church developed, and life as an LDS member in the 1800’s.
The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McClain
Another book about a wife, but a very different story. The Paris Wife is a biography written through the eyes of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. At 28 and destined to be a spinster, Hadley meets the 21 year old yet to be published Ernest Hemingway and leaves the states with him for Jazz Age Paris. They are not prepared for the fast living of the environment, which eventually contributes to their undoing, and we get to go along for the ride. From Amazon.com: “A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.”
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I can’t believe I haven’t read this book yet. Some of the words in reviews to describe it? Magical, spellbinding, enchanting, entrancing, mesmerizing… to name a few. The short of it is that two magicians that have been training their entire lives to best each other fall in love. But unbeknownst to them, the duel they’ve been training for will claim one of their lives. Intriguing. Another word!
Tune In Tokyo: The Gaijin Diaries by Tim Anderson
This is a FUNNY book. Tim Anderson, a tall, white, gay Southerner needed to shake his life up. So he accepted a position teaching English in Tokyo, or at least within the proximity. This memoir is written with a very dry, intelligent, southern wit that will leave you laughing out loud. From his weirdo dorm mates to singing karaoke with his students (and karaoke is THE thing), there’s not a dull moment in this narrative. If you’re curious about Tokyo, and want an outsiders perspective from an inside look, you’ll love this book. Even if you’re not curious about Tokyo, you’ll still enjoy the ride. Learn more about the author at his blog.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I’m going to direct you over to our manlier site, Dappered.com, because the arts and culture correspondent Ben Madeska just wrote this book up as a suggested read. He did a great job of summarizing the story. But I will say, this is one of the most beautiful and haunting stories I’ve ever read. Gabriel Garcia Marquez artfully uses realism and magic realism to paint beautiful imagery that sticks to your ribs. A must read if you have not.
Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende
Another Latin American heavy hitter, Isabel Allende made her debut in 1985 with The House of Spirts, a multi-generational tale written in the magic realism style, akin to One Hundred Years of Solitude. Daughter of Fortune is Allende’s 6th novel and follows the life of Eliza Sommers, a Chilean girl adopted by a spinster Brit and her brother after she is left on their doorstep in the mid 1800’s. Eliza falls in love with, and becomes pregnant by, a boy that abandons her for the promise of gold California. Eliza follows him, and Allende writes a beautiful story about Eliza and her search for the boy she loves.
The President is a Sick Man by Matthew Algeo
On July 1, 1893, unbeknownst to the American population, then president Grover Cleveland sailed out in to Long Island Sound on a friends yacht and had a cancerous tumor removed from the roof of his mouth. This was at a time when cancer was automatically considered a death sentence, and people went to hospitals to die, not to heal. The standards of cleanliness we have today did not exist. Operating tools would not be sterilized, and the surgeons would wear their operating coats as status symbols; the dirtier the coat the more operations they had performed. Gross. This event also happened during the Panic of 1893, a serious recession in the United States, similar to what we are seeing today. This book by Matthew Algeo offers fascinating facts and insights into these events, and into the life of the journalist that found out the truth about the operation, reported it, and was vilified and thought a liar. This is a dryer read, but still an extremely interesting look at some important history in our nations past.
Any Bitter Thing: A Novel by Monica Wood
Another novel I haven’t read, but it comes recommended by my friend Tara. Lizzy, the main character, is in a hit and run accident that leaves her in the hospital. Somehow, her uncle Mike, who is a catholic priest that she was sent to live with after her parents died when she was two, is visiting her in her hospital room, though he supposedly died years before. Father Mike was falsely accused of molesting Lizzy when she was nine, and the two have been apart since. It sounds like some heavy and moving themes are explored in this story, but according to reviews, it’s an exploration that’s worth it.
Alright ladies, if you haven’t read it yet you have to be curious. I’ve not read the trilogy yet, and I am totally curious. But you know what makes for some really good reading? The comments about this book on Amazon. I know that’s cheating, it’s not a book. But several made me laugh out loud. I do have friends that have read the trilogy, and of course they were able to devour them in under a week, if not half a week. It sounds like pure candy, no nutritional substance, but still fun to consume. Will you read it? Have you read it? Give us your two cents in the comments!
What books would you recommend for good summer reading? Please share with the group!