Thursday, July 13, 2017

Summer Reading

Why does Independence Day seem to mark the unofficial halfway point through summer? And why does time drag during the winter but fly at the speed of light in summer? Maybe I'm just a kid wrapped in an adult body who still delights in the relaxed, slow-paced days and the freedom of vacations, staycations, and looser schedules.

Of course, I may be drawing attention to my age when I say that some fond memories of summer include weekly trips to the library - do kids even do that now?  I sure hope so! I mean, I know that times change and technology advances, but in my mind there is still great value in sitting quietly with a physical book. When I was young, trips to the library were always a perfect way to get out of the heat, spend some "down" time, and peruse the rows and stacks of all those books that held so much promise.  This activity suited me perfectly, as I was an introverted, non-athletic, only child who loved school and learning.  But the meditative quality of reading and spending time in libraries still seems healthy for everyone, at least occasionally, am I right?

OK, time to step down from my soapbox and fast forward to the present day.  You may assume that with my periodic mention of books and reading, and my occasional posts about our book club, that I'm a voracious reader. Not true. Honestly, the acquisition of books is more thrilling for me than reading said books (because, shopping!)  Also, buying books reminds me of school "book orders" - remember those?  I grew up with a single mom and not much extra money, so it was a real treat to be able to order books!  My kids would probably tell you that I enjoyed their school book orders even more than they did.  The thrill of ordering books hadn't faded, so I'm sure I sometimes urged them to get books they could have lived without.  

Now, once we acquire all of these great new books, we typically read them, right? Well...I also read at a glacial pace, which doesn't help me get through those books! I'm so easily distracted by my own thoughts that I have to reread a lot.  But, you don't need to know what all of those squirrels are doing in my brain.  I'm sure you're much more interested in my current reading list!

If you enjoy reading, you've likely already read some of these books.  My list is not cutting edge by any means.  But, here is what is stacked up waiting for me to get going... (all reviews from

Glory Over Everything by Kathleen Grissom

The latest New York Times bestseller from the author of the beloved book club favorite The Kitchen House is a heart racing story about a man’s treacherous journey through the twists and turns of the Underground Railroad on a mission to save the boy he swore to protect. Glory Over Everything is “gripping…breathless until the end” (Kirkus Reviews).

If you haven't read these 2 books, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or library!  We read The Kitchen House in book club and loved it; and everyone else I know who read it could not put it down.  I'm sure that Glory Over Everything won't disappoint.

Trophy Son by Douglas Brunt

"A Dickens-loving tennis prodigy finds himself the hero of his father's plot in Douglas Brunt's Trophy Son, which convincingly renders a pro-sports fishbowl peopled by drug-enhanced, endorsement-emblazoned warriors - and the attempts of one weary soldier to escape with his soul." - Vogue

This one hits a raw nerve with my "Mom Guilt" - ugh.  As the mother of now-adult children, I often look backwards in regret for my less-than-perfect mothering skills. (If only there were do-overs, sigh.)  I know I hovered and pushed too hard sometimes.  This book might be a bit uncomfortable for me to get through, but apparently I have some desire to punish myself with this story, haha.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.

This one is on our book club's future reading list.  Psychology is always interesting and, coincidentally, my husband and I currently have a family member who is experiencing the frightening and debilitating effects of encephalitis.  It's a different health crisis from the one in this book, but there are enough parallels to have me very interested!

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

A whip-smart, hysterical dramedy about a family in crisis after the disappearance of its brilliant, misanthropic matriarch.

I know this has been out for a while and I'm behind the curve here.  But it struck me as a light and fun escape from reality - perfect for summer.  A mother-daughter storyline always appeals to me and, well, she's an architect so there's that pull as well.

Faithfully Religionless by Timber Hawkeye

If you consider yourself spiritual but not religious, then you're going to love this inspirational book. And if you want to lead a simple and uncomplicated life with happiness at your fingertips, then you'll want to read this page-turner more than once!

I stumbled upon this in the bargain section at Barnes & Noble, and it piqued my curiosity.  After flipping quickly through this book, the author's beliefs resonated with me.  Spirituality is very personal, but I think this may be right up my alley.  And at only $5.98, I didn't have much to lose by buying it.

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) is Thomas Hardy's fourth novel and his first major literary success.
This story of a proud rural beauty and the three men who court her is the novel that first made Thomas Hardy famous.

After seeing the movie at our university's theatre (which plays mostly independent films and documentaries) I immediately ordered the tie-in edition book.  Honestly, this was one of the most beautiful dramatic pieces of cinema that I have ever seen.  I left the theatre and just couldn't stop thinking about it.  The sets and visuals were stunning, and the story was very emotionally moving, with a really strong female character.  I hope that the book keeps me as enthralled as the movie did.

Sense and Sensibility: A Novel by Joanna Trollope

From Publishers Weekly (Aug.) Brit author Trollope brings Austen's classic into the new   millennium, with mixed results.

I don't doubt that there have been mixed results in reactions to this novel.  Some people might think it is a crime to rewrite one of Austen's classics.  Believe it or not, I have not read Jane Austen's book, although I do own it (shameful, I know...don't scold me too harshly about this, haha.) Anthropologie offered several of her books a year ago or so in beautifully-patterned covers, so I bought them...and they sat as lovely home decor accessories.  Then, I tried to read Pride and Prejudice (I don't remember reading it in high school, although it's possible that we did.)  I got a ways into it and then abandoned it.  I'm hoping this modern-day version will capture and hold my attention.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo spent three years among the residents of the Annawadi slum, a sprawling, cockeyed settlement of more than 300 tin-roof huts and shacks in the shadow of Mumbai’s International Airport. From within this “sumpy plug of slum” Boo unearths stories both tragic and poignant--about residents’ efforts to raise families, earn a living, or simply survive. 

What can I say about this?  I'm not sure why it spoke to me in the book store, but something drew me to it. I really love reading non-fiction, and I'm a sucker for stories that tug at the heart-strings in some way.  It may be another difficult one to get through, as it undoubtedly sheds light on the harsh realities of how people are forced to live.  But it's probably something that I need to learn more about.

There is actually no way I'll get through all of these books this summer.  As a matter of fact, I still have 2 unfinished books that I'm working on before I can crack any of these open.  I'm currently reading Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan about Frank Lloyd Wright's affair with Mamah Northwick Cheney, and Dreams from My Father by Former President Barack Obama (I know, I know, I'm very late to the party again with this book! Haha!)

What's on your summer reading list?  Have you read any of these?