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 saw this meme the other day and loved it:
I saw it the same day of the announcement that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be released in print this summer. I was already thinking, hmm, what am I going to have to cancel so I can sit and devour the script in one sitting? And so the funny little meme hit close to home.
Happy Friday, friends!
If you ruled the world, what proclamations would you make?
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.
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.
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.
(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?
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!
I wanted “The Lake House” by Kate Morton to be my feature book review for October, but I didn’t manage to finish it until yesterday, so I’m sliding it in at the very beginning of the month.
Beautiful cover and I was obsessed with the floral printing on the inside cover
I’ve been waiting for this book for a long time. I’m a huge fan of Kate Morton, and this book didn’t disappoint.
Morton’s books should be read slowly and digested. She is a master at creating layers in her novels, and in The Lake House she introduces you multiple generations, each with their own secrets. There’s Eleanor, who lives an entirely different life than even those close to her know; Alice, a writer with deadly knowledge she’s kept for decades; and Sadie, an anti-social detective who has been forced to leave the police force by a messy secret. And in the background of all of their stories stands Loeanneth, a country house that is not easily found but contains a special sort of magic.
The Lake House mixes romance, history, and a decades-old cold case and it kept me up reading way past my bedtime.
What was the best book you read in October?
Being a big book person and reader, when the news broke yesterday that Harper Lee was publishing a second novel this summer, I got no less than half a dozen texts/e-mails about it.
Have you heard? Are you excited? What do you think it will be about? My friends all wanted to know what I thought about the big news. And all I could say on the subject was…
I haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird. <hangs head in shame.>
Somehow I made it through my education without reading this pivotal novel–an impressive fact considering I have a degree in English.
I am shamefaced and hiding behind my book.
I decided to remedy the situation and pulled the book off my bookshelf to begin reading immediately (because yes, somehow I have a well-read copy of it on my shelves. I can’t even explain myself). And I also e-mailed my 8th grade English teacher (because I’m totally friends with her on Facebook) to find out how I managed to miss reading it.
Confession time: what super famous or popular book haven’t YOU read?