Summer reading

I read a lot this summer.  At the outset of the season, as I wrote my mid-year reading review, I realized I hadn’t read much fiction this year.  So I swore to myself that the summer months would hold a lot of novels.  And they did.  I would love to hear what you’ve been reading, too!

Lab Girl, Hope Jahren – I loved this book, which is suffused with the wonder of the natural world.  Jahren’s beautifully-written story is a love letter to science.

Modern Lovers, Emma Straub – Straub’s book is entertaining, wise, and truly has its finger on the pulse of what it means to be in midlife.  I related to an uncomfortable degree.

The Spiritual Life of Children, Robert Coles – I’ve long wanted to read this book and I finally did.  A thoughtful perspective on the deep and rich interior lives that children often have.  My favorite passage is here.

Wilde Lake, Laura Lippman – Taut, page-turning mystery, with a complicated female protagonist to boot.  I’m in.

There and Then: The Travel Writing of James Salter, James Salter – Essays by one of my very favorite writers about the traveling.  Beautiful prose, short snippets, you can see parts of the world in these pages.  My favorite passage is here.

What Alice Forgot, Lianne Moriarty – An entertaining confection that raises a big question: what do we take for granted over time, and what do we need to remember?

The Weight of Water, Anita Shreve – I don’t know why I’ve not read this before, but I’m glad I did.  Womanhood, relationships, the ocean – so much story in here, and so gorgeously written.  My favorite passage will go up next week.

Before the Fall, Noah Hawley – Gripping from page one.  I couldn’t put this down.  I found the ending a little unsatisfying, I’ll be honest, but this is an excellent, fast-paced story.

Days of Awe, Lauren Fox – A recommendation from my sister, and she’s never wrong.  A lovely book about friendship, marriage, motherhood, and adulthood.

The Atomic Weight of Love, Elizabeth Church – A recommendation from Katie, who’s also never wrong!  I adored this book about being a woman in the mid 20th century, subjectivity, science, birds, love, and identity.

The House of Secrets, Brad Meltzer – My love of thrillers is well-documented, and I tend to read everything Meltzer writes.  This book, heavy on the Benedict Arnold history, was very entertaining.

It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too), Nora McInerny Purmort – That this memoir is both a tear-jerker and a laugh-out-loud page-turner is a testament to the lovely writing and the irrepressible spirit of the writer.  Highly recommend.

The Singles Game, Lauren Weisberger – Fun, light, entertaining. I enjoyed this look inside the tennis circuit.

Heroes of the Frontier, Dave Eggers – I loved this book, which managed to be both light and deeply wise.  Despite the way the story careens all over the place (literally and figuratively), it powerfully describes the love between a mother and her children. I rarely read the NYT Book Review, but I did about this book, and these lines (by Barbara Kingsolver) have stayed with me: “The heroes of this frontier are Ana and Paul, a dynamic duo who command us to pay attention to the objects we find in our path, and stop pretending we already know the drill … she (Josie) sees them learning to take what a human animal really needs, divining the crucial difference between genuine dangers and manufactured ones. She is learning to be the mother her life demands, rearing the sort of brave humans the future will require.”

The Girls, Emma Cline –  As wonderful as I’d been told.  Cline’s story is feral and fecund, powerfully evoking the vulnerability of teenage girls and their deep desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  I could not put this book down.

The Excellent Lombards, Jane Hamilton – A wonderful, bittersweet evocation of adolescence.  This book is an elegy for a way of life that’s receding (farming) as well as for the innocence of childhood.  Tear-jerking, thoughtful, and lovely.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint, Nadia Bolz-Weber – I loved Nadia’s wry humor and her clear-eyed ability to see the holy in even the most winding paths.  This is a beautiful, powerful book.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Maria Semple – I laughed out loud while reading this.  Often. Another book I’m not sure why I waited so long on.  Hilarious and tinged with thought-provoking commentary on motherhood, identity, and conforming.

Truly Madly Guilty, Lianne Moriarty – Another successful page-turner by Moriarty.  Like all of her books this one circles around an event which is a mystery until revealed.  It is more tragic and less salacious than I expected, but the outcome is heartening, the message optimistic.  Entertaining.

Siracusa, Delia Ephron – Riveting writing on an unsettling topic.  Europe, midlife, marriage, parenthood, trust and the breaking of it … there is so much in this novel.

Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler – I love the writer’s voice and her beautiful, heartbreaking, raw depiction of young adulthood in New York.  I never lived in New York and I never waited tables, but even so, I found this book almost unputdownable.  A gorgeou way to close out the summer.

What have you read this summer that you recommend?  I want to hear!

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11 Comments

  1. Posted September 7, 2016 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    I look forward to your recommendations, I always find gems. Thank you! Xo

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  2. Nadine
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Your list makes me want to jump into the next book. I always value your recommendations, knowing that I’ll invariably find some treasure I would have otherwise missed. Thank you for the inspiration!

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  3. Gale
    Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    My goodness you were prolific this summer. I loved all the books I read the past few months. They were:

    My Name Is Lucy Barton
    My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
    Fates and Furies
    Walkable City
    Between the World and Me
    Life Afte,r Life,
    Hotel Pastis

    My summer was fiction-heavy too, with a good mix of light and heavy. I have a good lineup for fall that I’m excited about. I’m also getting very into the idea of seasonal reading lists. Fall list includes your fave Crossing to Safety as well as H is for Hawk, Gilead, and the first in the Ferrante series.

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  4. Posted September 7, 2016 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Updating my Goodreads list now! I also read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and it was a PERFECT summer read. And I finally read Judy Blume’s newest (though no longer new), In the Unlikely Event. I thought it was good, but more than anything it left me wanting to go back and read all my YA Judy Blume. A project for next summer. 🙂

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  5. Posted September 7, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    What a great list!!! I loved a few of these as well and some are new to me – very exciting.

    I just finished The After Party and am looking forward to The Girls.

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  6. Kim
    Posted September 9, 2016 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    I rarely comment, but want you to know how much I look forward to your posts. You capture life so real and intuitive. I appreciate the book posts as well…I base much of my reading on these..so thank you.

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  7. Posted September 9, 2016 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    My library request list just doubled in length! So many great suggestions, thank you.

    I just read The Royal We. (I would now like to move to England to be friends with Nick and Bex, please.) It was such fun that my kids are wondering why they haven’t seen my face for the last two days. Do we REALLY have to stop reading for meals? Every time? Okay, okay… 😉

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  8. Posted September 9, 2016 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    I have read quite a bit this summer. Favorites: Travels with Charlie by Steinbeck -amazingly current despite taking place in 1961 the year I was born; When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood-so so good -and just read and enjoyed the latest Louise Penny Inspector Gamache which is always a treat. On audio I have been alternating between Maggie Gylenhall reading Anna Karenina and a really good version of Wind in the Willows. Go figure😊

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  9. Andrea
    Posted September 12, 2016 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    A few that i read and liked (in addition to many on your list!)
    A Little Life (utterly harrowing but so good)
    We Were Liars
    The Woman in Cabin 10
    My Sunshine Away

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  10. Posted September 15, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I loved Lab Girl too, and I’m so glad you enjoyed The Atomic Weight of Love.

    I’ve recently loved Faithful by Alice Hoffman, Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford, and The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown.

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  11. Posted September 17, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    You read A TON! I am up next for my book club so thank you for some good suggestions. 🙂

    I read The Life We Bury (recommended it on Great New Books), Where The Light Gets In by Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel. I would say great, good, intriguing to describe them in that order. 😉

    I’m totally in awe that you read that much this summer! Teach me your ways, Sensei Lindsey.

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