Summer Reading

I think I have said it before, this summer has been a summer of fun here. There’s been a lot of swimming, eating, playing, laughing, cooking, and reading. LOTS of reading. From the time I was old enough to read I have devoured books.  I love all sorts of books:  biographies, memoirs, fiction, religion/theology, history – pretty much anything.

Anyway, the summer allows me time to read for fun.  I don’t do a whole lot of heavy reading, because it’s hard to really appreciate Camus when you’re dodging Nerf balls and diving children playing  spirited games of Green River. 

So, if you’re wanting to pick up a good read or eleven, check the list.  I’ve got more where these came from, but it’s a good start.

1.  The Help – Kathryn Stockett

I read this one for a second time because the movie is coming out in a mere 9 days.  And y’all.  Y’ALL.  It was so much better the second time around.  The characters, the plot, the history, the language.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love it all.  It may possibly be the best book I’ve read in decades. If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading a book that runs the gamut of emotions, then get yourself to a bookstore and buy this book.  You’ll laugh, you’ll get mad, you’ll cry (I even ugly cried once or twice), and when it’s over you’ll be ready to flip back to page one and start all over again.
Whoa baby.  This book has sparked all sorts of controversy.  A hot mess of controversy.  So naturally, I had to read it.  I’ll say this- it’s a fascinating read.  It causes you to really think and question your spiritual beliefs.  I love that.  I don’t agree with Bell on many points, but he raises some important questions and he challenges the Christian reader to address beliefs regarding the afterlife.

Again, whoa baby.  This is Chan’s answer to Rob Bell’s book.  Another thought provoking, but much more biblical discussion about Hell, it’s existence, and what we believe about the afterlife.  It may not be your cup of tea, but it’s absolutely worth the read.  Chan is a very accessible theologian, but not condescending or elitist.  I like that; I am not a fan of theological or academic snobbery.  That’s a post for another day though, because I have some feelings there.  Mama just needs to brush off her soapbox.

4.  Long Drive Home: A Novel – Will Allison

And back to fiction we go.  I hate to tell you this, but I’ve been a little gender-biased in my reading lately.  I found I was only reading novels written by women.  I like women writers.  They get women.  So far, I haven’t really found a man who gets women.  However, I have met many who have given it their best shot.  I guess that’s the best we can hope for.

Anyway, let’s talk about Will Allison and his novel.  The story begins with a tragic car accident that involves road rage, a split decision, and the ramifications of some really bad decisions.  REALLY BAD.  The dilemma I had with this particular book is that the entire time I was reading I kept clucking my tongue and thinking to myself, “You idiot, you’re going to wreck your marriage and your family if you don’t come clean about this.”  And then he does. I have to give it to Mr. Allison, he mastered the art of the disintegrating marriage.  Creeping separateness is his theme, and homeboy nailed it.  NAILED IT. 

5.  Gone with a Handsomer Man – Michael Lee West

I’ll just let the Amazon review do the talking here, except to say- this one is doggone funny.  It’s also the a perfect book to read in a pool in South Carolina with a big cup of sweet tea and a free afternoon. 

Teeny Templeton believes that her life is finally on track. She’s getting married, she’s baking her own wedding cake, and she’s leaving her troubled past behind. And then? She finds her fiancé playing naked badminton with a couple of gorgeous, skanky chicks.
Needless to say, the wedding is off. Adding insult to injury, her fiancé slaps a restraining order on her. When he’s found dead a few days later, all fingers point to Teeny.
Her only hope is through an old boyfriend-turned-lawyer, the guy who broke her heart a decade ago. But dredging up the past brings more than skeletons out of the closet, and Teeny doesn’t know who she can trust. With evidence mounting and the heat turning up, Teeny must also figure out where to live, how to support herself, how to clear her name, and how to protect her heart.

6. The First Husband: A Novel – Laura Dave

Laura Dave is one of my favorite authors.  She’s funny and she gets people. Have you ever read a book and watched the main character make a decision that you think you would never make in your real life, but you find yourself cheering for despite yourself?  Yeah.  That’s this book.  The basics- Annie has a stable relationship that turns out to be not so stable.  So he leaves.  She meets a new guy- a guy you have to LOVE, and she marries him.  Then, you find yourself hoping she leaves perfect guy to return to the snake that left her, and well, you’ll have to read the book to see what happens.  I was romantically exhausted after this one- this one is fraught with drama.

7. What Happened to Goodbye – Sarah Dessen

I read this one for BlogHer book reviews.  I liked it.  I loved it.  I want some more of it.  Dessen gets girls, and she writes about real girls.  Technically, it’s a young adult novel, but I enjoyed it from beginning to end.  You can read my review here, but my biggest praise is this- I can give this one to my 11-year-old daughter who loves herself some romance novels and not worry about language, sexual situations, or other topics that may be a bit advanced for her.

8. Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale (Lowcountry Tales) – Dorothea Benton Frank

LOVE Dottie Frank.  I want to be her when I grow up.  Her love for the South Carolina Low Country is 100% to blame for the one disagreement Coach and I have in our marriage.  When our kids fly the coop this girl is heading straight for the Low Country.  Coach has other ideas.  Folly Beach is different from her other novels, there is some history about the Heywards and the writing of Porgy and Bess.  If you are a Dottie Frank fan, this one is a little slower than her others, and you can tell she struggled some with the writing- honestly, I think this is the book she has wanted to write for years, but it just hadn’t percolated long enough.  It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but I’d be willing to bet Coach an RV that if we asked Mrs. Frank, she would tell us this one didn’t take residence with her.  That being said, she still makes me long for the Low Country.

9. Summer Rental – Mary Kay Andrews

Hello summer.  Go now and get this book.  Mary Kay Andrews ranks right there with Dottie Frank, and they usually publish novels within a month of each other.  Andrews focuses more on the Georgia, and in this novel, the Outer Banks.  Where Frank stays in the South Carolina Low Country, Andrews isn’t afraid to take you travelling all over the South.  Nothing wrong with that is there?   Again, if you want a good book to float around a pool and devour, this one gets the job done.
10. Then Came You: A Novel – Jennifer Weiner

Again, LOVE Jennifer Weiner.  I read Good In Bed years ago, and I have followed her ever since.  This novel jumps right in the middle of a hot fertility topic.  It goes without saying, women get testy when you start talking about ovaries and babies and such.  But oh my word, this one was so good.  SO very good.  She’s not southern, but we can forgive her for that can’t we girls?  Weiner can tell a story, and she’s funny and smart and culturally relevant without being cliche.  That’s a hard gig to pull off.

11. Twenties Girl: A Novel – Sophie Kinsella

Okay, I have to tell you I started this one and quit a few times.  It has a ghost.  I’m not a big fan of ghost characters.  But then I got desperate.  I was floating serenely in the pool with a cool beverage and all the kids were at the beach so it was quiet.  I had two choices:  get up and hook into the WiFi in the beach house and get a new book, or continue floating and start back with Kinsella’s novel.  Laziness prevailed and I ended up loving the novel and the ghost character.  She’s kicky and fun.  I want to be like her, except in a mortal sense.  This one is a thumbs up!
I have several more, but you need to get reading, and I’m in the middle of one of the prettiest books I’ve read in a while, Rules of Civility.  I am reviewing it for BlogHer this week.  I’ll get back to you on this one, I think it released on July 26th, so it’s available now.  I can’t say a whole lot about it yet, but OH. MY. WORD.  It is so very worth the time.  I’ll just say this- if Jay Gatsby and pals had lived to see The Depression, this would be his story.  Mmmmmm. Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmm.  Good stuff.  Really good stuff.

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2 Comments on Summer Reading

  1. Theresa
    August 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm (6 years ago)

    LOVE summer reading. I took the list and I can’t wait to check it out!

  2. Leslie Ruth Petree
    August 15, 2011 at 9:19 am (6 years ago)

    I can always count on you for when I need to rejuvenate my reading list. Bookmarking this post, for sure!


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