Two book posts in a row? Don’t worry this isn’t turning into a book blog. I don’t have enough hours in the day to engage in the amount of reading it would take to sustain a literary blog. Having said that, summer is here which means that the summer reading lists have gone home. My kiddos are still pretty small, so we’ll be reading a lot of Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss over the next couple of months. When I was in school I detested summer reading lists almost as much as I hated writing book reports. And I really hated writing book reports, so you may be surprised to learn that I have kept a detailed book journal for years (like since high school). Not only has it come in handy as a reference, but it is fun to look back and get an idea of where I was at any given point in my life based on what was on my bookshelf at the time. For example, when I was expecting my first child, I read an exorbitant amount of pregnancy and newborn care books. Anyway, summer is here and since I just finished Man Up! by Ross Matthews, I have been looking for my next read. I thought that some of you might be on the search as well, so I put together a quick list of a few of my recent reads that I think make for nice, not too heavy summer reading.
I am a huge sucker for memoirs and if the memoirs are funny, it is all the better. There’s nothing like summertime and the upcoming Fourth of July holiday to make you feel all patriotic, so what better than a memoir on becoming American? Craig Ferguson’s memoir on his road to United States citizenship is honest, witty and at times heartbreaking. We travel with him through his highest highs and his lowest lows – and things get low – at one point he was on his way to kill himself when someone offered him a glass of sherry and he forgot about his suicidal plans. Thankfully, both for him and us, things got better after that night and Ferguson leaves us with a great read that has all of the same hilarity and depth found in his film (one of my favorites by the way) Saving Grace.
My friend, Heather, introduced me to Rachel Hauck’s books years ago with Hauck’s book Love Starts With Elle. What I like about Hauck’s writing is that her characters can have integrity without becoming overly righteous. I’ve read several of Hauck’s other works, so I was excited when I learned that she had a new book out. With the pending arrival of the new British royal prince or princess in the near future, I admit that I have caught a bit of royal fever, so when I learned that the book is about your average American girl falling for a Prince, I was a goner. The only thing better than the color pink or shoes on a book cover is a tiara! While the book has its flaws, who doesn’t love to read a fairy tale every now and then?
Maria Semple was a writer on, among other things, both Mad About You and Arrested Development, so her comedic chops are extremely well honed. The story is about Bernadette Fox, a once ground-breaking architect turned borderline agoraphobic eccentric, living in Seattle with her tech-guru husband Elgie (he works at Microsoft) and fifteen year old genius daughter, Bee. When Bee earns straight A’s on her report card, she decides to cash in on a promised once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica and that is when the proverbial poop hits the fan; Bernadette goes missing. Bee then sets out on a journey compiling emails, official documents and various correspondences in an attempt to track down her mother. She soon discovers that things and people aren’t always quite what they seem. I cannot even tell you how quickly I read through this book. Semple’s subtle satire is both witty and compelling. One of the best lines in the entire book comes from an old friend of Bernadette who writes in a letter, “People like you must create. If you don’t create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.” To those of us who need our creative outlets, this could not ring more true.
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
I debated including this book on the list because it wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be – but just because something isn’t what you expected doesn’t mean that it isn’t good. In the first few chapters I was absolutely enthralled. Walter’s descriptions can transport you to a different place and make you almost feel like you are there. I adore his writing style and I enjoyed the complexities of his characters. My main problem with the book was that I felt that there were so many more stories just waiting to be told. You could have given each character his or her own book. Does that mean that the character development was too good? Is that even possible? Maybe, but Beautiful Ruins was still a lovely read.
I love the movie Peggy Sue Got Married. Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to go back to high school and do things differently, knowing what we know now? Lissy Rider, the quintessential high school mean girl, gets to do just that in this light, fun read. Will she change her nasty ways and end up a better person, or will she fall back into old habits? I adore Jen Lancaster’s memoirs (I read Bitter is the New Black at jury duty and laughed out loud so much that it’s no surprise I wasn’t selected to serve on any juries that day). While her fiction isn’t quite as good as her memoirs, it is still entertaining and I very much enjoyed Here I Go Again. Lancster’s blog Jennsylvania is also extremely entertaining.
I have several books lined up on my to-read list as well. I just started Jen Lancaster’s latest memoir, The Tao of Marthaand my mom just informed me that Divergent is a must read. So, now that you know some of what I’ve been reading (and what I’m going to be reading). What is on your list this summer?