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summer reading

Monday, July 5th, 2010

It’s summer and I’m looking for some good reading material. In a book I find conversations, solitude, guffaws, and triumph. As a kid, I loved all Judy Blume books. I also remember saving up my allowance for the newest book in the Sweet Valley Twins followed by the Sweet Valley High series.

I didn’t read as much for pleasure in college which is sad but I picked it up again after I was out of school. It was a great escape after a long day at work. It’s then that I realized, news supplied me with more than enough reality and when I’m reading for pleasure, it was for escape, so I only like a certain type of book.

I like happy endings. Most people would describe my genre as chick-lit but I think that’s a bit simplistic. I like well-crafted, character driven stories. I like modern story lines that take place in the U.S. I enjoy how books give me a voyeuristic look into other people’s (happy) lives. Unfortunately, my aversion to reality limits what I read. I find Oprah books too depressing. I generally don’t enjoy non-fiction, memoirs, fantasies, sci-fi, or romance, but I’ve made exceptions (Harry Potter is the least likely book I’d read, but I loved the entire series). It means finding a book that I’d enjoy is a task with few resources. So help a girl out! I’ll list a few of the novels I’ve enjoyed if you’ll do the same!

I’m currently reading The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse. I’m reading it on hubby’s iPad because we didn’t have time to stop at a bookstore before our trip. I’ve found myself underlining several lines because it’s so beautifully written. I’m in the middle of it and can already tell I’ll be telling my friends about this book. This summer I also want to re-read one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, for its 50th anniversary.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is a coming of age story that has one of my favorite lines of all times. “…we accept the love we think we deserve.” I’ve given this book as a gift to a half dozen friends because I thought it related to so many lives.

The Blind Side by Michael Lewis had me loving football and talking about the West Coast offense with hubby. It’s a book I’ve loaned to several girlfriends. In fact, one friend read it poolside and returned complete with chlorine-water stains (I love a weathered book!). The movie is good but the book, as they say, is better.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is not my kind of book. My best friend, Carrie, tricked me into reading it. I was visiting her in California, just finished my book, and didn’t have anything to read. She suggested The Kite Runner knowing I’d say, “no, thank you.” But she told me it was an immigrant’s tale that took place mainly in America. Be forewarned, it doesn’t take place mainly in the U.S. nor is it predominately an immigrant’s story. But once you start the book, you won’t be able to put it down.

American Wife, Prep, and Man of My Dreams are all by one of my favorite authors Curtis Sittenfeld. I wasn’t going to read Prep because it looked like a Young Adult book but my friend Veronica insisted, saying she loved it. After finishing that book I was starving for more of Sittenfeld’s work which is smartly written chick-lit. I quickly read Man of My Dreams and then had to wait a while before she released American Wife. It was a fun and interesting story, very loosely based on Former First Lady Laura Bush, that was well worth the wait.

Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet by Jamie Ford is a gem of a book. I found it while searching for information about literary agents. It touched a cord because like Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, it’s a window into parts of my own upbringing, an experience I had thought was uniquely mine.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a beautifully written story that is difficult to describe. A few lines pulled me in so quickly I had to order the book for next day delivery. “Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl… A pound coin can go wherever it thinks it will be safest… Of course a pound coin can be serious too. It can disguise itself as power, or property, and there is nothing more serious when you are a girl who has neither.”

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is told through the eyes of a dog. And funny thing is, dogs are excellent storytellers. I enjoyed it the way I enjoyed Marley and Me by John Grogan. Both are books you can give to a dude and he won’t feel like you’re offering a pink-covered paperback that he’d be embarrassed reading in public.

Here are a few other books I really enjoyed and are great summer reads: Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead, Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen, In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner, The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank, The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Krug, Ask Again Later by Jill Davis, Chloe Does Yale by Natalie Krinsky, and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

Happy reading and don’t forget to leave me other suggestions! Thanks!