I was always the nerd who loved summer reading assignments in grade school–and I usually blew through them within the first couple of weeks of summer so I could get on to the “good” books. Because, lets face it, 1984 is just not a “good” book when you’re a teenage girl.
Long gone are the days of required reading, but I thought I’d give myself a summer reading list–and even toss in a couple of nonfiction books, since I almost always read fiction. Here’s my list.
Perfect by Rachel Joyce
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
Eat Dirt by Josh Axe
First Comes Love by Emily Giffin (out in June)
The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (out in July)
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
Love Walked in and Belong to Me by Marisa De Los Santos
The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan
The Girls by Emma Cline
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The Book of Doing and Being by Barnet Bain
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
What’s on your reading list this summer? Are you or your kiddo doing summer reading?
I found this quote in a new book I’m reading (Love Walked In by Maria de los Santos–I’m only a chapter or so in, so the story hasn’t evolved too much yet–but her writing style is beautiful). It stuck with me and I chewed on it all day, so I thought I would share.
It made me think of items and things I’d put on my perfect list. Some I came up with:
- The beginning of spring when the weather is amazing but it is too early for bugs.
- The opening bars of Billy Joel’s Piano Man.
- Twilight. The time of day, not the stupid books.
- The way babies move their little mouths when they’re asleep.
- Using your favorite pen.
- The first bite of ice cream.
What would be on your list of perfect things?
I am so excited that my first “If You Read One Book This Month” column of 2016 is a book by one of my favorite authors, Chris Bohjalian.
The Guest Room tells the story of two very different people: Anahit, a young Armenian woman who was kidnapped at 15 by sex traffickers, and Richard Chapman, a legitimately happy family man who lives outside of Manhattan. Their paths cross when Richard hosts a bachelor party for his younger brother that turns deadly when the “management” for Anahit and the other young woman hired to entertain the guests end up murdered in his living room.
The story weaves backward from the murder of the men, until the reader is firmly ensconced in the messy world of sex trafficking. I’m not going to lie–this book was hard to read sometimes. There were moments I had to put it down and walk away. It terrified me as a parent, as a woman, and as a wife. There are things that go on in this world, right under our noses, that we don’t want to think about. This book doesn’t shy away from those evil realities. Instead, they are presented by the matter-of-fact voice of a girl that was told she was being taken to Moscow to become a professional ballerina and instead finds herself sold to men. It is the practical tone she describes what happens to her and the other girls she meets along the way that is far more chilling than any description of a bloody murder or even what goes on with the men who pay for her.
The other points of view we are privy to in the book are also thought provoking. There is Richard’s younger brother and his friends, who regularly use this “service” they have booked for his party even though they suspect the situation is not kosher; Richard’s wife, who questions her marriage and sexuality after what happens in her home; and the police who are both out to arrest the traffickers but resigned to the “realities” of that world.
I won’t spoil the ending, but as usual, it is unexpected and–despite the insanity that has happened up to that point–utterly real.
As always, it is Bohjalian’s writing that drew me into such a dark and spiraling topic. His books are never light and fluffy–he has written about transgender, nuclear explosions, and genocide. His writing is deep, his prose is addictive. It is his voice, and in turn the voice he gives his characters, that keeps me returning to his books and eagerly awaiting his new novels.