Summer Reading

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?

 

 

 

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Perfect Things

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 Have a Weakness for Books

I have a really bad habit I’m trying to break: I always finish a book I start…even if I think it’s miserable.

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My husband thinks I’m crazy. My answer was always that I was waiting for the book to get better…or for the twist at the end…or for something. Occasionally I was rewarded. Most of the time I was not.

Since I’m trying to live more intentionally this year, I’ve decided to stop finishing books I don’t like. I feel pretty dastardly about it too. There is just something…cruel about not finishing a book. I don’t know if I think this because I’m an writer and I want people to read all my words, or if I’m just crazy.  But honestly, life is too short for books that don’t speak to you.

In the same vein, I’m also a bit of a book hoarder. I buy books with covers I like at clearance sales. I take in stray books when friends are cleaning out their houses. And I may have been known to buy a used copy of one of my favorite books  even if I already have a copy at home. I just like books.

As you can imagine, I have books all over the house. My bookshelves have long been filled and now the books are creeping into piles in every room. A lot of these books I don’t LOVE. It was bad when it was just me…but now that I have a junior bibliophile in the house, it’s officially out of control.  And so I’m going to start purging, and creating a library of books I truly adore. So that when people walk in my house and look over my shelves, they’ll only see books that really matter to me.

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(Frankly, this is something I could do in every room in the house. But baby steps, right?)

Do you finish books you don’t love? Is there an area in your life that would benefit from a purge?

2015 Books in Review

  
At my best count, I read around 85 books this year. I did a bad job of keeping track of them, which is something I want to work on in  2016. The number jumps to well over 100 if you count the re-reads of the year, but I think 80 or so new books in one year is pretty good. Here is my year in review:

Best Book: The Lake House by Kate Morton. I waited a long time and this book was truly worth the wait.

Worst Book: Paper Towns by John Green. This book built…and built…and built…then fell flat on it’s face.

Best New Writer: JR Ingrisano, who published Captain Jolly’s Do Over. 

Best Mystery/Thriller: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. Creepy and incredibly engaging.

Best Chick Lit: Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella. Her books are always an easy, fluffy read when you need a mental break.

Best Twist Ending: Off the Page by Samantha Van Leer and Jodi Picoult. This was a fun YA sequel that answers the question, “what happens to the characters when the book is closed?”

Biggest Book Disappointment: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. You know how you feel on a cold January day? Like you’ll never be happy or warm again? This is how that book made me feel.

Book I’m Most Excited For in 2016: The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. It is one of my life goals to finagle an early copy of his next book.

I hope you read some really great books this year, and I hope that your 2016 is full of amazing words. Thanks for making my words some of the ones you read this year!

 

 

 

Fall Book Lust: What’s on my Fall TBR

Fall is my favorite time to read. The chilly weather and warm drinks lend themselves to long reading sessions under a cozy blanket, don’t you think?

This summer I read a lot of fluff, which was nice–we had a lot of upheaval in our world so my reading choices stayed pretty light. But this fall I’m hoping to read a few things that are a little deeper, and I even have some nonfiction on my list.

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What’s on your must-read list this fall?

Lets Be Honest

I read an interesting article recently about books people claim they have read but haven’t. According to the The Guardian, here are the top ten books people say they have read but haven’t:

1 1984 by George Orwell
2 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
3 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
4 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
5 A Passage to India by EM Forster
6 Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
7 To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
8 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
9 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I have read 8 out of these 10 books, which begs the question: how did I end up with an English degree without reading The Catcher in the Rye or Pride and Prejudice? This is not a new topic for me–if you’ve been here before, you know I only recently read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time (I know, I know…for shame).

So lets be honest here. Have you ever lied about reading a book to impress someone? Or watched the movie version to make it through a test or have something to talk about at book club? Being a huge reader, I’ll take almost any excuse to read a book. I was the kid who had her summer reading done the first two weeks of the break. When I was dating and felt like things were going well, I asked a magic question: Who is John Galt? I lost many a confused looking boyfriend to that question. One person got it right, and I married him. I take my books seriously.

But even I am guilty of the book lie. Once. I was a senior in high school, and I was overwhelmed by band practice, my AP classes, college applications, you name it. I had a report due on The Great Gatsby, and for the first time in my life, I hadn’t finished the book.

My sweet mother took pity on me. “I read that in high school,” she said. “I think it has a happy ending.”

So I wrote the paper, detailing confidently the first half of the book and finishing with how Gatsby and Daisy lived happily ever after.

The next day, I got my paper back. I got a B, but my teacher had circled the second half of my paper and written, “I think you need to re-read the end of the book.”

I was mortified. I stayed after class and took my paper to her. When she saw me, she looked amused.

“You didn’t read the book,” she said. I nodded.

“Why did you give me a B?” I asked. “I don’t deserve that grade.”

“Maybe not,” she said. “But I like your writing. I especially liked one phrase…” she flipped through my paper to the point where I had started making stuff up. “This transition, right here. I could tell where you stopped reading the book, but you did it with such flair.”

And then, I had written, the proverbial plot thickens.

I have carried that little phrase around with me since then–proof positive that sometimes being confident and wordy can get you out of a sticky situation.

So what’s your dirty little literary secret? Is there a book out there that you’ve always wanted to read but never made it through? Lets be honest.

Midsummer Mini Book Review

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Time for another mini book review! Here is what I’ve been reading:

Shopaholic Takes LA (Sophie Kinsella): A cute addition to the series with an annoying cliffhanger at the end. The book could have been half as long, and it had just gotten really interesting when it ended. I have sort of a love/hate relationship with the main character in this series–I find her annoying but endearing all at the same time. I like that when I’ve had enough of her, I can just shut the book.

Vanishing Acts (Jodi Picoult): What do you do when you find out your father kidnapped you as an infant and changed your identity? As usual, the topic is off the wall, but Picoult writes with a realism and a seriousness that makes it completely plausible. Set in the desert of Arizona, the novel also toys around with the concept of repressed memories, which I thought was really interesting.

In the Unlikely Event (Judy Blume): I was so excited to read this book, and she didn’t disappoint. Blume has never sugarcoated anything in her writing or tied up things the way my fairy-tale romance mind loves, but that’s one of the things that makes her writing so poignant. This novel really paints a great picture of life in New Jersey in the 1950s, complete with complicated relationships. I loved the way Blume tied everyone in town together on some level. If you’re about to travel by plane, I would wait on this read–there are pretty gruesome descriptions of plane wrecks.

The Lies we Told (Diane Chamberlain): I’ve been on a bit of a Diane Chamberlain bender this summer, but I think this one might be the last one for a while. She puts her characters in these insane situations but rarely manages to make them realistic. This is a story about two close sisters whose parents were murdered when they were children. When one of them goes missing, the other hooks up with her husband–while the missing one is stranded on a southern barrier island with a questionable man and a pregnant woman. Chamberlain always has a good twist at the end, but it loses some of its shock value because the stories are always so off the wall.

Paper Towns (John Greene): John Greene is the epicenter of teen angst right now. I read The Fault in our Stars and thought it was okay, and figured I would read this one before I saw the movie. Well…I won’t be seeing the movie. This book dragged on and then had such a lame ending that I don’t even think my self-centered angsty teen self would have enjoyed it. Book fail.

Flat Out Celeste (Jessica Park): This was the third book of the “Flat Out” novels. It was a cute little romance about a socially awkward girl getting ready to go to college. All three of these books are light, easy reading if you’re looking for a beachy read. The dysfunctional family the story revolves around will grow on you!

What have you been reading this summer? I just started the “Selection Series” by Kiera Cass and I’m pretty hooked.