As summer is finally upon us, or upon us with a vengeance if you live on the East Coast, we thought we’d highlight a few books that have earned a place on our summer reading list. Ranging in content from dystopian futures to the literary version of flip flops, here’s what’s going on our vacation must-read list.
The Lady Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn—I’m astounded that this historical mystery series set in Victorian London is written by a woman from Texas. Yes, Texas. Sure, she studied Shakespeare in college and spent her early career teaching English, but after reading these books I can’t wrap my head around the image of a Texan writing this exquisite series. Raybourn masterfully crafts 1886 London in her debut novel Silent in the Grave. I can hear the carriages clopping down the dirty streets, smell Lady Julia’s fires being stoked by her servants and join her in her misery as she has to abandon the newest colorful fashions in favor of black as she mourns the death of her husband. The fifth installment, The Dark Enquiry has been beckoning me from my nightstand for the last few months.
Amped by Daniel Wilson—From the author of Robopocalypse comes his latest novel from the near-future where humans are implanted with devices that give them superhuman abilities. What could go wrong from there, right? Mr. Wilson’s writing highlights technological questions we’re truly likely to be faced with in the near future and his books are a fun read. Despite the details the nitpicky nerds dispute in the Amazon reviews, his technological discussions appear realistic enough for the non-astrophysicists among us.
Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman—As the parent of a singleton boy, I’m constantly on the hunt for the latest theories on raising modern men. The problem with many of the nonfiction works I read is they feel too clinical. Not the case for Nurture Shock. Bronson and Merryman effortless blend statics, case studies and real world examples. I may be biased due to the fact that they devote an entire section to the myth that only children are ill-adjusted social rejects. They aren’t. In fact, in the United States single-child families are more common than two-child families. One of my favorite chapters in Nurture Shock tackles the concept of today’s praise-crazy parents. Too much praise they contend actually has an inverse effect. In trophy-consumed and no winners or losers culture, the research in Nurture Shock will definitely shock some readers. For me, it’s like coming home.
I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me by Joan Rivers—As readers of this site know, we are big fans of Ms. Rivers. A tireless worker and trail blazer for women in comedy, I love, love, love her outrageous opinions on just about everything. How could I go wrong reading her acerbic comments that so often reflect my own opinions, but delivered in her inimitable Joan Rivers style?
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg—this memoir brings together two of my loves: food and reading. Wizenberg’s blog Orangette is a must read for any foodie and will leave you either drooling or running to the grocery store for pistachios and dark cherries. In A Homemade Life, Wizenberg weaves the loss of her father with childhood recipes in her search for herself in Paris. Not only is the writing hauntingly lovely, the food is too. From Vanilla Bean Buttercream Cake with Glazed Oranges and Crème Fraiche to Slow Roasted Tomato Pesto each essay is perfectly paired with a recipe. I’ve dog-eared too many pages to count, in a copy I borrowed from a friend. Time to snag my own copy this summer.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed—Okay, I’ll admit it, this isn’t going on vacation with me because I already read it. I bought it as a beach read, but was tempted to see what all the fuss was about considering the Big O herself took her book club out and dusted it off for the sole purpose of recommending this book. I was not disappointed. The story of Strayed’s solo trek along a large portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, (the full length runs from Mexico to Canada) this brutally honest and beautifully written memoir resonated with me on such a deep level. It made me recall the transitions that occurred during my 20’s and how our journeys shape us in ways we can never imagine while we are on the trail. Strayed was recently outed as the advice columnist (and so much more) “Dear Sugar” from the Rumpus website. She has an associated book Tiny Beautiful Things of collected writings from the column. Have tissues handy when you’re reading this one.