Friday, May 15, 2015

Let's Read

by Deanna

Summer is just around the corner and my thoughts drift toward the hours I will spend on the screen porch.  It is still just a might cool here, 50’s and 60’s, so the porch is still closed but soon, very soon that summer warmth will be upon us and those lazy days of spending time in my favorite chair in my favorite summer room will commence.  There are various activities that take place in that favorite chair, drinking my morning coffee in the AM, enjoying a glass of wine in the PM, checking e-mails on my I-Phone, perusing the newspaper, napping, praying, pondering, and napping some more….but one of my most treasured activities sitting in that gem of a spot is reading.   And that’s what I want to talk about today….good summer reading.

When I was much younger, chick flicks and romance were my go-to type of books, but as I “matured” (sounds so much better than growing older) I realized that there was a world of really great stories that had absolutely nothing to do with romance.  Joining three book clubs, I know that seems a bit excessive, also continues to expand my reading genres, reading books that I never would have thought to choose for myself.  Listed below are some recommendations for great summer reads in whatever favorite spot you find yourself in.  These are not in any particular order, just my thoughts.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Andrew Doerr.  If you haven’t read this, you need to.  I read it last summer when it was first published and so far it has been on the bestseller list for 52 weeks and recently won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.  An amazing book that alternates the story of a blind French girl and a German boy during WWII.  As their lives spiral out of control you await the moment when they will come together.  Beautiful language and masterful storytelling.

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, by Paula Hawkins. A psychological thriller set in the environs of London.  Not the most appealing characters but certainly a page-turner.

BIG, LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty.  Both Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes are fast becoming my favorite authors for a good read.  Both are from Australia and both create fascinating characters.  In Big Little Lies, three moms meet on the first day of school and become unlikely friends.  It is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive. 

THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker. A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma that spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter, Julia has any idea where he might be until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of. Intent on solving the mystery and come to terms with her father’s past, Julia decides to travel to the village where the woman lived . There she uncovers a tale of unimaginable hardship, resilience, and passion that will reaffirm our belief in the power of love that can move mountains.  Truly inspiring.

MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE by Jonathan Odell.  If you liked “The Help” then you will love “Miss Hazel”. Odell tells the story of two young mothers, Hazel and Vida set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi. One is wealthy and white and the other is poor and black who have two things in common: the devastating loss of their children, and a deep loathing for one another.

THE FIFTH GOSPEL by Ian Caldwell.  In 2004 as Pope John Paul II is nearing the end of his time leading the Roman Catholic Church, the curator of the Vatican Museum is found dead just as a new exhibit is set to open. The leading suspect is Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest, who is a friend of the curator and an expert in the Gospels. Ten years of research by Caldwell have produced a deep and satisfying mystery.  Nothing like a good “religious” murder mystery to whet your summer read appetite.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristen Hannah  The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in World War II German-occupied, war-torn France --a heartbreaking novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. Well-done but doesn't quite match the incredible writing and story telling of Anthony Doerr in "All the Light We Cannot See." 

DESCENT by Tim Johnston.  A Rocky Mountain vacation turns to terror as a family's 18 year old daughter disappears while out running. The parents are filled with dread and remorse, while Caitlin's brother tries to remember how it happened.  And Caitlin? She is being held hostage by a mad man and she tries to find an escape. How long will her family keep searching?  I have not read this yet, and this short review is by my book-lover friend, Bonnie, but it is on my "to read" list.  

We would love if you would share some of your favorite reads or what you are planning on reading during those lazy, hazy days of summer. 


AFishGirl said...

"The Dog Stars" by Peter Heller
"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein

Happy summer reading....

Dotti said...

Perfect timing, Deanna! I'm on the hunt now for new reads. I've read almost all of the books on the list you gave me last year as we flew to Houston, including All the Light I Cannot See. A wonderful book.

I'm a mystery book junkie. Lately I've discovered a fun series, The Bibliophile Mysteries by Kate Carlisle. A contemporary setting but very fun.

Another recent discovery is the Shetland Island Mysteries by Ann Cleeves. Set in the far reaches of the Shetland Islands, U.K., these are all a good read.

My favorite mystery writer hands down is, Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. She has a new one coming out in August but as with all these series, you must start at the first one and catch up. Half the fun of it is the character development and in the case of Gamache, each story builds on the last. These, in particular, are very well written. You'll want to go live in Three Pines when you've read these.

I'm also a big fan of epic history novels. I've just finished Edward Rutherford's 'Paris'. Ken Follett is another excellent historic novelist.

And, finally, Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect will have you laughing out loud.

terriporter said...

I have recently been pondering book choices as we head into summer and this list is perfect timing for me! I have only read The Girl on the Train (at your suggestion) which I absolutely loved and am so happy to have this list to try a few others. I did just buy the latest by Harlan Coben. If you're a mystery lover, his are the best! I love taking them on vacation because they are the kind of books that you want to finish in a couple of days at most and not string the story out. But they are "can't put it down" reads that I highly recommend. Can't wait to see what everybody else is reading!

Anonymous said...

Deanna, that sounds like my kind of summer also! I love to be in a sun filled room where all I can hear is the singing of the birds and a good book! I read an array of books...mostly novels, poetry, the bible...I could go on and on lol! When Im not reading, Im out exploring nature with my camera in hand. The first book you mentioned "All The Light We Cannot See" caught my attention and will be a book (on my read) list! Love the photo...thanks for sharing!

Barb said...

Hi Deanna, I've read many of these books, but not all - I'll be looking some up on Amazon! There is a debut novel by a Swedish author which I think you'd enjoy - A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. I've also reviewed some others on my Book Review page. Hope you're enjoying your Chicago spring!

Carol said...

I was just going to do this post because I, too, am ready to gather summer reading. I loved All the Light...." and I just boight Girl on the Train. Based on a podcast rec'd I am reading Station 11. Very Very unlike what I usually read, but its very good so far. Its too odd for me to explain, but read the reviews and see if its for you. I read a series of Paris books all summer after my trip last year-Paris to the Moon, Paris Letters and A Paris journal. I was fulfilling a daydream of moving there, and thats pretty much what all of these are about. I am also rereading Walden. means much more to me now than in highschool! Thanks for the suggestions all! We are going to have a great summer!! ( I am on the deck for the first time after work right now -YAY

Carol said...

P. S. I LOVE the clever black and white books!

Robyn Goddard said...

I have added several of your recommendations to my Amazon Wish List! Lucky for me I have not used my birthday gift cards yet.

I'm a fan of WWII human interest stories. Non-fiction holocaust reads or fiction I enjoy both.

I've read two of the books on your list.

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing part of your day with us. If for any reason you are unable to leave a comment here on this post, please leave your comment on our Facebook page or in our Flickr discussion group. We love hearing from you!

© Focusing On Life