If summer ever arrives - or even if it doesn't - there's always reading!
Summer reading is a special kind of reading. Whether you are relaxing on the beach, or hanging out on the front porch, you want to be reading something a little lighter - but also intriguing, and well-written.
As a librarian, I can't help but want to save you from those cheesy supermarket paperbacks with attractive covers and deplorable plot lines. The kind you leave behind in airports - intentionally.
At other times during the year, I feel the stress of getting my hands on the very latest titles and gobbling them down as quickly as possible, since other people have library holds on them and I don't want to accumulate overdue fines.
However, during the summer, I like to play catch-up. Rather than choose current best sellers, I tend to seek out the books that were hot a while back. The ones I can find right there on the library shelves, take my time reading, and even renew if I want to - extending my reading time.
With that in mind, I thought I would list some of my favorite vacation books, and also share some of my personal 'catch-up' titles - the ones I plan to read this summer. So, enjoy the summertime, and go ahead and renew a few books. You need time to barbeque, ride your bike and watch the grass grow. You can't read all the time…
Vacation Picks (The Ones I Want to Read)
'Remarkable Creatures' by Tracy Chevalier. The author of 'The Girl With the Pearl Earring' has done it again - this time with a story that takes place on the windswept English coast. When Mary Anning uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious fathers on edge, the townspeople to vicious gossip, and the scientific world alight.
'That Old Cape Magic' by Richard Russo. Back on Cape Cod, for the wedding of a family friend, Griffin - married there 30 years ago - confronts his parents' failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter's new life, and, finally, what he thought he wanted and what in fact he has.
'Juliet Naked' by Nick Hornby. Who can forget 'High Fidelity', which was made into a fabulous movie starring John Cusack and Jack Black? Hornby is back with the story of yet another mucked-up romance involving pop music, another clueless man, and the disappointed woman who loves him.
'The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America' by Erik Larson. The story of two men's obsessions with the Chicago World's Fair - one its architect, the other a murderer. You are drawn into a time of magic and majesty, made all the more appealing by a supporting cast of real-life characters which include Buffalo Bill, Theodore Dreiser, Susan B. Anthony, Thomas Edison, the Archduke Ferdinand, and others.
'Suite Francaise' by Irene Nemirovsky. The author was a successful writer living in Paris when she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz in 1940. She died there a month later at the age of thirty-nine. Her daughters took the manuscript for this novel with them into hiding, and sixty-four years later it was published and became a world-wide best seller. It's a story of life and death in occupied France, and it's a brilliant, profoundly moving work of art.
Vacation Picks (The Ones I've Read)
'The Lymond Chronicles' by Dorothy Dunnett. This six-part series had me at Hello. And I don't ever read series. Dunnett is masterful: She created the most fascinating bad-boy in all of historical fiction, the beautiful, intelligent, creative, beautiful, wild, and beautiful Francis Lymond. Follow him through the Middle Ages as he fights to reclaim his good name, his inheritance, and his one true love. I read the 'wrong' book first, but it didn't really matter. Here they are in order: 'Game of Kings', 'Queen's Play', 'Disorderly Knights', 'Pawn in Frankincense', 'Ringed Castle', and 'Checkmate.'
'Blue Diary' by Anita Shreve. Jorie has been married for 13 years to wonderful, handsome Ethan and is still madly in love. If this seems too perfect, it is. Naturally, something horrible is about to happen, and it does. Out of the blue, Ethan is arrested on suspicion of the rape and murder of a teenage girl 15 years earlier. So much for the perfect husband.
'Turtle Moon' by Alice Hoffmann. Verity, Florida, is a place where anything can happen during the month of May. Migrating sea turtles come to town, mistaking the glow of streetlights for the moon. When a 12-year-old boy and a baby go missing, a young divorced mother and a former 'meanest boy in town' cop join forces to find the children. Love can be found in the strangest places.
'The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea' by Yukio Mishima. A band of savage 13-year-old boys rebel against a world they conceive as hypocritical and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. The boys plan to exercise their objectivity by focusing on one member's mother and her new love, a visiting sailor. (You can also see the movie, with Kris Kristofferson and Sarah Miles.)
'An Uncommon Reader' by Alan Bennett. A deliciously funny novella that celebrates the pleasure of reading. When the Queen, in pursuit of her wandering corgis, stumbles upon a library bookmobile, she feels duty bound to borrow a book. Aided by Norman, a young man from the palace kitchen who frequents the library, Bennett describes the Queen's transformation as she discovers worlds entirely unknown to her before, through reading. England's best loved author revels in the power of literature to change even the most uncommon reader's life. (This is one of my all-time favorites!)