Saturday, June 29, 2013

Summer Reading

Hey friends!

How are you?  Things are going well over in my neck of the woods.  I took some much needed (and well-deserved, if I do say so myself) time off once the semester was over.  I watched a bunch of the TV shows I've been wanting to either try out or catch up on.  Highly, highly recommended are: Sherlock (the BBC series), Arrested Development (seriously, I'm not sure how I hadn't been on the bandwagon before... I'm on it now), House of Cards (on Netflix), and Veep (on HBO).  I, of course, also love me some Game of Thrones, New Girl, The Mindy Project, and several others, but I do a pretty good job of keeping up on those during the season.  Because I, apparently, love TV.  Don't judge.

I've also been reading a whole lot over the last several months and have more books than I'll possibly be able to read this summer on my "To Read" list, so I thought I'd share!  Keep in mind that I really love historical fiction (especially war

time historical fiction), however, there is a good variety on the list.

Books I've Already Read (And Recommend):

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
This was a fun, really fast read.  It is set in Naples, Florida in the 1960's - back before it was transformed from a rural area near the Everglades into the vacation haven it is today (trust me!).  My enjoyment might have been increased by the fact that I was in Sanibel and only 1 county north of Naples when I read it, but I so enjoyed the way Hearth weaved so many different lives together, dealing with racial, gender, and sexuality issues.  It is funny and heartfelt.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
OMG.  I CAN. NOT. WAIT. for Goodwin to come out with her next book!!!  If you like Downton Abbey (at least the first couple of seasons...), or really anything set at the turn of the 20th Century, you will LOVE this book!!!  It's thick, but I loved it so very much that I read through it a heck of a lot quicker than I expected to, but never wanted to end.

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck
Once again, this was a beach read for me way back in January.  I really enjoy reading books that speak to my current mood or things that are relevant to my life at the time.  The setting for this book is Key West, Florida and I was in Florida at the time I read it.  I loved that aspect of it.  Even more, though, I loved the story.  Did you read The Paris Wife?  If you liked that, if you like Hemingway, or if you are a fan of vibrant historical fiction, I think you'll like this one.  Robuck's description of a cafe meeting between Hemingway and Mariella, the book's heroine, where Mariella eats a piece of key lime pie had me dying for some and you best believe I took care of that craving at dinner that night...

The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
Serious WWII historical fiction!  Ok...  I have a real thing with 1) wartime historical fiction, 2) stories in which the main character discovers something from her family's past, and 3) stories that are set both in present day and the past, transitioning seamlessly from one to the other.  This is ALL of those things.  A woman in El Paso, TX is forever changed after interviewing Elsie Schmidt in her German bakery.  Elsie was a German living in Germany during WWI who saved a young Jewish boy from the Nazis.  I love this book because it tells a story that we don't often hear: that of the struggles of German nationals who were also severely impacted by the horror of the Nazi regime.  I also love that this is a story of challenge, discovery, families, and love.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
Ok...  I could almost copy and paste the description of The Baker's Daughter down here.  haha  I'm a weirdo.  I love stories like this so much that it bothered me NONE that they were so similar.  Again, this is the story of a young German woman just trying to survive WWII and keep her daughter safe and alive.  Fifty years later, her daughter starts to discover the truth about her mother's story and about the sacrifices her mother made to save their lives.  This one will REALLY make you question your notions of what is right and what is wrong.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker

This is another piece of historical fiction and yet another story about a child's discovery of a parent's past and true self.  However, the setting is a rural village in Burma.  This is an absolutely beautiful story of love and acceptance between a boy with no sight and a girl who could not walk.  I liked the setting for this story because it reminds me some of Bangladesh.  There are rickshaws, crowded markets, and beautiful open fields.  It wasn't my very favorite read so far this year, but it was definitely enjoyable.

What I'm Reading Now:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
So far, REALLY good!  I picked up this book for two reasons.  First, I remembered reading that this was a very courageous piece of writing.  The author takes risks, he describes the nitty gritty parts of life in a really beautiful way.  Second, the story is set on a rocky side of Italian coastline.  Duh.  There are a lot of tangled pieces right now... And I am anxious to see how they sort themselves out...

My Summer Reading List:
I currently have about a bazzillion unread books in my bookcases.  I should really start utilizing the library more often, but I have a real problem.  I LOOOOOOOVE owning the books.  I like to hold them, I like to look at the covers, and I like to be able to loan them to fellow book lovers.  My mom is the same way.  We often borrow books from each other ... though hers somehow manage to find permanent spots on my shelves while mine always make their way back to me.  Oops.  So not fair!  haha  Ok.  So, in an effort to clear out the "To Read" pile (if only so that I can justify buying crap loads of new books this fall), here's my list for the summer (in the order they're currently stacked/piled on my shelves)!

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew
bread & wine by Shauna Niequist
still points north  by Leigh Newman
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Paradise Guest House by Ellen Sussman

Ok!!!  Your turn!  What's on your To Read list???  Come on, I'm dying to know.  I mean... I really need suggestions for my Fall Reading List...