Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer Reading

I don't remember the last time I actually created a summer reading program for myself. Perhaps I've not done a formal plan since elementary school when I could participate in summer reading at our local library! Be that as it may, I've discovered that I suddenly have the time again to read...and that I desperately want to reconnect with the part of myself who always used to have her nose in a book.

Here's what I'm reading this summer:
  1. The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency - books 4 and 5, Alexander McCall Smith. (finished!) I have only recently started to read mystery novels, and I picked up the first of these books to read as I recovered from surgery. To my immense delight, I fell head over heals for McCall's writing. So much so, that I'm actually collecting these books one at a time. They make for nice, peaceful reading when I need a break from more intense works...but you also have to read them carefully to absorb the beautiful language.
  2. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Rebecca Howe. (finished!) I picked this one up on a whim, and WOW! It's Howe's first book, and it's absolutely brilliant. The mother/daughter relationships are powerful and complex....and the historical connections with the Salem Witch trials are really well done.
  3. The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory (finished!) Recommended by my SIL, I have to admit it wasn't the best book I've ever read...but it was perfect, light summer reading. Frothy and light - with no lasting substance - it nonetheless interested me in a woman I'd never heard of and has led to a fair amount of research on my part.
  4. Indigo Springs, A.M. Dellamonica - I just started it, and so far so good. It's a different type of modern fantasy novel than I normally tend to, but different is good for me.
  5. The Lace Reader, Brunonia Barry - I've been curious since it came out.
  6. The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, Jesse Bullington - a comic medieval tale...looks like fun.
  7. Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston - I've picked this book up a million times, and decided it was finally time to read it. Have to admit, the tv movie version from a few years ago sparked my interest.
  8. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
  9. The Girl Who Played With Fire, Stieg Larsson - I will actually be rereading the two Millennium books as I had the good fortune of listening to them early last year. (And read the third last summer thanks to a guild friend who couldn't stand the wait and ordered it from amazon UK.) The reader was phenomenal, and I LOVED every minute. In fact, I loved it so much that I realized I had to have the books for myself - and I wanted to reread them to see how different the experience would be.
  10. The White Road, Lynn Flewelling - book 5 in a series I really like, just published.
  11. The Very Best of Charles De Lint - I've read/reread most of these stories, but there are a few I haven't seen yet from hard to find books.
  12. The Beastly Bride, ed. Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow - the fourth book in a series of anthologies centered around mythic figures. Anything these two ladies put together is touched with gold.

Also, I joined Goodreads last week so that I could join the Endicott Mythic Fiction group, which is slowly reading it's way through the Endicott recommended books. I LOVED Endicott, and am still sad they decided to close it down. Thank goodness that all of the archives are still on line - and that there is a group like this! The July and August books are:

  1. The Girl In The Glass, Jeffery Ford
  2. The Tree Bride, Bharati Mukherjee

Of course, I'm also listening to books, courtesy of my library:

  1. Water For Elephants, Sara Gruen (finished!) Ok, I'll fess up. I normally avoid popular books like the plague because I'm a picky English major, and nine times out of ten I end up hating them for one reason or another. The ONLY reason I chose this was because it was available in audio at the library - which has been a great way for me to start branching out and away from my typical fantasy books. I was very pleasantly surprised at how wonderful this book was...and at the simple fact that it had a happy ending. (Which seems ridiculously uncommon in popular books.) Some day I plan on picking up a copy to keep.
  2. People of the Book, Geraldine Brooks (finished!) Fascinating! Tracks the history of a very special book through time while also dealing with the complex life of the book restorer who is called in by the UN to take care of it. Another one I will eventually pick up.
  3. The Tudors, G.J. Meyer - nearly 24 hours of Tudor history. I have about 4 hours to go.....I don't like how the author jumps around in time a bit, and the long back histories can be tedious at times, but all in all it's a worthwhile read. Definitely not a flattering portrait of any of them, though.
  4. The Virgin Queen's Daughter, Ella March Chase - continuing on with my theme of the Tudors, I just loaded this one on my iPod last night. I need something light and frothy - and very much fictionalized - after the Tudors.
  5. The Eyre Affaire, Jasper Fford - I may or may not listen to it. It's checked out for the next couple of weeks, and I'm undecided.

By the way, the free audio downloads at the library have been a blessing for me. Not only have I discovered how much I LOVE the classics in audio format (Dickens comes alive and Eliott is heartbreaking!), but it has also given me the freedom to branch out and away from the fairy tales/fantasy/mythology that I have read almost exclusively since college. Other new favorites -thanks to audio - have included The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson, Karen Essex's books Leonardo's Swans and Stealing Athena, and the Piano Teacher by Janice Lee. Ahem, apparently historical fiction is becoming my new thing.

If you have any recommendations, please leave them in the comments!

Incidentally, this is the entire t0-read shelf. The vertical stack of paperbacks on the right have been in my possession for at least 5 years without ever having once been read. It may be time to pass them on. We'll see.


Bonnie said...

Good luck on all your summer reading - looks ambitious! Right now I'm reading Bram Stoker's Dracula and Lives Like Loaded Guns by Lyndall Gordon, about Emily Dickinson and her family, and the possibility that it was epilepsy that caused her to seclude herself in her home.

Anne said...

I have put together a reading list for myself too! Although it is primarily things that I missed reading in high school and college. I am currently slogging thru Anna Karenina. I might have to reward myself for those 750-odd pages with something fun from your list!

Paula said...

Yippee! new books for my reading list! Of course I'm a big fan of Alexander McCall-Smith, with him being Scottish. Have you read Portuguese Irregular Verbs and the following two in the series. I laughed my fool head off with those. In fact, I think it might be time to read them again.

Jenny said...

I enjoyed your summer reading post and added a few things to my own list. I've read The Lace Reader lately and was disappointed. Doesn't it feel comforting to have all those books around, waiting to be opened and explored?

A Day That is Dessert said...

Great summer list! I've read many of these titles but by no means all of them...I'll bookmark this page. I'm reading The Sweet Life in Paris and Dorothea Lange: Life Beyond Limits right now; both great in different ways.

Kelley said...

I'm listening to Shadow of Darkness of Deborah Harkness. It is the second book in a series. The first is A Discovery of Witches. The books are well-read and satistyingly long.