Summer Reading

I wasn’t sure it would ever get here, but summer finally arrived.  This was a big year for us- Coach started a new job, G started high school, V started at a new school, and AC started middle school.  I just held my breath and jumped.

And now it’s here.  Summer, summer, summer.  I started a reading list sometime in late February, and this summer I’m going to plow through a list of 40 books.

And I’m going to master pie crust, but that’s a story for another day.

Today I’ll just give you the first five books on my reading list.  I love summers when ALL of my favorite authors publish books, and this is one of those summers.

1.  Jeneration X – Jennifer Lancaster

I char-grilled my thighs in the pool the other day finishing this one.  Three days later I am testifying that it was well worth the second degree burns.  If you are a reluctant grown-up, this is your book.
from Amazon:
In Such a Pretty Fat, Jen Lancaster learned how to come to terms with her body. In My Fair Lazy, she expanded her mind. Now the New York Timesbestselling author gives herself—and her generation—a kick in the X, by facing her greatest challenge to date: acting her age.

Jen is finally ready to put away childish things (except her Barbie Styling Head, of course) and embrace the investment-making, mortgage-carrying, life-insurance-having adult she’s become. From getting a mammogram to volunteering at a halfway house, she tackles the grown-up activities she’s resisted for years, and with each rite of passage she completes, she’ll uncover a valuable—and probably humiliating—life lesson that will ease her path to full-fledged, if reluctant, adulthood.

Well, I’ve never read her work before, and I’ll say that my neck is sore from nodding in agreement to so many of her observations on being a girl, a co-ed, a wife, a mother, middle-age, and what she calls “the renaissance” (because that’s what follows the middle ages).  It made me hate being in my forties less.  It also made me think about my mortality a little bit more than I would have liked on day two of summer vacation.

from Amazon:
In this irresistible memoir, the New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize Anna Quindlen writes about looking back and ahead—and celebrating it all—as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all the stuff in our closets, and more.
 
As she did in her beloved New York Times columns, and in A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen says for us here what we may wish we could have said ourselves. Using her past, present, and future to explore what matters most to women at different ages, Quindlen talks about
 
Marriage: “A safety net of small white lies can be the bedrock of a successful marriage. You wouldn’t believe how cheaply I can do a kitchen renovation.”
 
Girlfriends: “Ask any woman how she makes it through the day, and she may mention her calendar, her to-do lists, her babysitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. Sometimes I will see a photo of an actress in an unflattering dress or a blouse too young for her or with a heavy-handed makeup job, and I mutter, ‘She must not have any girlfriends.’ ”
 
Stuff: “Here’s what it comes down to, really: there is now so much stuff in my head, so many years, so many memories, that it’s taken the place of primacy away from the things in the bedrooms, on the porch. My doctor says that, contrary to conventional wisdom, she doesn’t believe our memories flag because of a drop in estrogen but because of how crowded it is in the drawers of our minds. Between the stuff at work and the stuff at home, the appointments and the news and the gossip and the rest, the past and the present and the plans for the future, the filing cabinets in our heads are not only full, they’re overflowing.”
 
Our bodies: “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.”
 
Parenting: “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”
 
From childhood memories to manic motherhood to middle age, Quindlen uses the events of her own life to illuminate our own. Along with the downsides of age, she says, can come wisdom, a perspective on life that makes it satisfying and even joyful. Candid, funny, moving, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake is filled with the sharp insights and revealing observations that have long confirmed Quindlen’s status as America’s laureate of real life.


3.  Spring Fever – Mary Kay Andrews



I just started this one tonight.  I was hooked by chapter two.  I’ll let Amazon do the talking here.

from Amazon:

The New York Times bestselling author of Summer Rental delivers her delicious new escapist novel about small towns, old flames, and deep secrets
Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless.  They’ve been divorced for four years, she’s engaged to a new, terrific guy, and she’s ready to leave the small town where she and Mason had so much history.  She is so over Mason that she has absolutely no problem attending his wedding to the beautiful, intelligent, delightful Celia.  But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called to a halt as the bride is literally walking down the aisle, Annajane begins to realize that maybe she’s been given a second chance.  Maybe everything happens for a reason.  And maybe, just maybe, she wants Mason back.  But there are secrets afoot in this small southern town.  On the peaceful surface of Hideaway Lake, Annajane discovers that the past is never really gone.  Even if there are people determined to keep Annajane from getting what she wants, happiness might be hers for the taking, and the life she once had with Mason in this sleepy lake town might be in her future.

4.  Porch Lights – Dorothea Benton Frank

This one doesn’t come out until June 12.  I’ll be ready for her!  She’s also coming to Franklin in July!

from Amazon:

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

Awaiting them is Annie Britt, the family matriarch who has kept the porch lights on to welcome them home. Thrilled to have her family back again, Annie promises to make their visit perfect—even though relations between mother and daughter have never been what you’d call smooth. Over the years, Jackie and Annie, like all mothers and daughters, have been known to have frequent and notorious differences of opinion. But her estranged and wise husband, Buster, and her flamboyant and funny best friend Deb are sure to keep Annie in line. She’s also got Steven Plofker, the flirtatious and devilishly tasty widowed physician next door, to keep her distracted as well.

Captivated by the island’s alluring natural charms and inspired by colorful Lowcountry lore—lively stories of Blackbeard and his pirates who once sailed the waters surrounding the Carolinas and of former resident Edgar Allan Poe—mother, daughter, and grandson will share a memorable, illuminating summer. Told in Annie’s and Jackie’s alternating voices, and filled with Dorothea Benton Frank’s charming wit, indelible poignancy, and hallmark themes—the bonds of family, the heart’s resilience, and the strength of love—Porch Lights is a triumph from “the queen of Southern fiction” (Charlotte Observer).

5.  Off the Menu – Stacey Ballis  

I read Good Enough to Eat and loved it!  Additionally, Jennifer Lancaster recommended this one.  I haven’t read a book off of Lancaster’s lists that I’ve disliked.  As a matter of fact, most of my pleasure reading comes from reading lists she posts over at her place.  However, this one doesn’t come out until July 3.  
from Amazon:
As the executive culinary assistant to celebrity Chicago chef Patrick Conlon, Alana Ostermann works behind the scenes—and that’s just the way she likes it. But with developing recipes for Patrick’s cookbooks, training his sous chefs, picking out the perfect birthday gifts for his ex-mother-in-law, and dealing with the fallout from his romantic escapades, she barely has a personal life, much less time to spend with her combo platter of a mutt, Dumpling.

Then a fluke online connection brings her RJ, a transplant from Tennessee, who adds some Southern spice to her life. Suddenly Alana’s priorities shift, and Patrick—and Dumpling—find themselves facing a rival for her time and affection. With RJ in the mix, and some serious decisions to make about her personal and professional future, Alana must discover the perfect balance of work and play, money and meaning, to bring it all to the table—one delicious dish at a time…

I’ll post the next five next Wednesday.  Happy Reading!
See Y’all!

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1 Comment on Summer Reading

  1. StrongerMe
    June 22, 2012 at 7:15 pm (6 years ago)

    Traci, I am so excited to have found your blog and specifically this list tonight. My kids go to their dads for the month of July, and I was wondering what books to get on my weekly visit to Barnes & Noble. Thank you, Thank you. I can’t wait to get started reading. And I will definitely tune back in for more book ideas.

    Reply

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