Summer Reading

I haven’t done a book post since March.

I’ve been reading away and since it’s summer, here are some things that I have enjoyed that you may want to put on your summer reading list.

I’m starting with The Glass Castle.
This book came out in 2006 and I believe it was made (or is going to be made) into a movie.  It’s a memoir of a woman and her unconventional upbringing.  Her parents are dreamers with some mental illness to contend with.  Raising children with these parameters can be challenging.  I thought the book was good, but each chapter was just one crazy story after another and they were starting to sound all the same.  I would watch the movie.

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I heard about this book some time ago.  I think I saw the author on The Today Show or maybe it was The CBS Morning Show (which is my FAVORITE morning television news program!) and I thought “Wow, this sounds captivating and inspiring.”  It took me a very long time to get this from my public library.  The premise behind this remarkable true story is that the author, Amy Silverstein, is in need of her second heart transplant.  Her SECOND transplant people!  She needs to leave the east coast and her support system to save her life.  The west coast becomes her home while waiting for a new heart.  And while she has the support of her husband, he’s stressed.  This is when the story (true story, remember?) gets good.  Her friends step up and become her support system.  And they don’t live on the west coast.  They create schedules so that someone is always with Amy as she sits and waits.  Waits to die…waits to live.  Her story is so remarkable.  Please read this book.

I really enjoyed watching Liane Moriarty’s novel Big Little Lies that HBO turned into a miniseries last year.  I have read another Liane Moriarty book (The Husband’s Secret) and I really liked it, so I grabbed this novel when I saw it at the library.  Truly, Madly, Guilty is a good thriller…someone saw something…who is to blame…what’s the secret from the past that keeps popping up…I really liked it.  I did figure out the ending hallway through the book.

 

I watched a documentary on Nora Ephron on HBO and realized that I had not read or seen Heartburn.  I have been a big fan of Nora since I saw When Harry Met Sally (1989) when I was in college.  It’s a movie that I quote almost daily.  She was the screenwriter for that film and her novel Heartburn was turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson (1986).  Although names have been changed, it is the story of Nora’s real life marital upset.  She’s seven months pregnant with her second child with her husband, a renowned journalist, and she discovers her husband has been having an affair and is leaving her.  It’s full of humor and grief.  But, mostly humor.  It’s a quick read and perfect for the summer.

My friend Ron, who used to be in Book Club with me when I lived in Chicago a million years ago, still sends me recommendations of books he’s enjoyed that he thinks I’ll also like.  The Last Mrs. Parrish was recommended by him and BOY it was fun!  This story is about Amber and her desire to be somebody.  And the somebody she wants to be is this guy Jackson Parrish’s wife.  But, here’s the problem.  He already has a wife.  Who is amazing.  This book had enough twists to keep me up at night wanting more.  It has a great ending.

This book was fine.  It’s a sweet tale of an elderly gentleman and his encounter and evolving relationship with a troubled young lady.  It was quick. It was full of warm-hearted goodness.  Give it a go if you want something easy to read that will bring a smile to your face.

I heard this author, Lara Westover, speaking on NPR this past year.  This is her memoir of her unconventional upbringing (sounds similar to The Glass Castle, right?)  and her quest to find herself.  It has a different vibe than The Glass Castle.  Lara Westover’s parents seem more delusional about what they are doing to their children than the parents in the other unconventional parenting memoir I read.  I didn’t like these parents.  And I had a hard time with this book.  I didn’t like many of the characters, who are actually the author’s family.  I had a difficult time understanding how she got so many “saves” in her life from outsiders when she was self-educated from an early age.  It left me feeling conflicted.

This book caught my eye at the library.  Murder mysteries have become more go-to summer read and this hit the nail on the head for me.  A kid is killed in a hit and run.  There are a few suspects and one is a brooding teen.  Who is guilty?  Who is hiding behind their lies?  So much mystery…

Ron told me about this book, too.  Good Me-Bad Me by Ali Land.  Dramatical fiction at it’s best.  Man-Farmer did start reading this before me and he didn’t like it at all.  He didn’t even finish it.  I must agree with him that some of the story started getting redundant towards the end and you “just wanted to see what was going to to happen already!” but I liked the ending.  The topic of the story can be a bit disturbing to some…the main character’s mother is a child serial killer…and she’s trying to decide if she is her mother’s daughter.

I saw this author on Goodreads as an author I may like to read based on my previous reading selections.  The Breakdown is B.A. Paris’s current novel.  It’s a good “who done it” murder mystery.  I liked the play on the title The Breakdown…did someone’s car breakdown or is the main character having a mental breakdown?  Or both?  Or neither?  I did NOT figure out who the guilty party was in this book until the end.

Many of the books I read deal with death.  Death is an essential aspect of life and I have read another book by this author, Caitlin Doughty, before.  She’s a 21st century undertaker.  She deals with death on a daily basis.  She makes death not scary.  But, instead,  something that is a part of our time here on earth and maybe we need to look at it a bit differently.  This book takes the reader on a few journeys.  Journeys to cultures other than the American culture to witness how they deal with death.  And how maybe the American funeral industry can begin to take other ideas into account when helping families with a deceased loved one.  I recommend this book for everyone.  Death finds all of us eventually.  How our family members are left to deal with us, because let’s face it…funerals are for the living…is evolving.

PBS is doing a summer program called The Great American Read.  They did an online poll to find the top 100 books that Americans like to read.  I haven’t heard of some of the books on the list and there are a few that I have problems believing are GREAT reads.  Man-Farmer is a big Agatha Christie fan.  This book was on the list of the top 100 reads and neither one of us had read it.  He got it from the library and quickly devoured it.  I picked it up next and while it was a quick read, it was SO good.  It was hard to put down at night and neither Man-Farmer or I figured out “who done it” until the last chapter.  Agatha Christie is a master at mystery and a master of suspense. This is simple, yet exquisite writing.

This book has been on my To Read list for quite a while.  It has been hard to find at the library and so I eventually just put it on reserve and had to wait until it was shipped from another library in our library system to my hometown library.  It was really worth the wait.  Maggie O’Farrell has an amazing way with words.  I found myself right there with her as she had seventeen brushes with death.  This is a memoir so everything was real.  And I felt it all.  I smelled what she was smelling.  I felt the wind in my hair just as she did.  Like I said, she has an AMAZING way with words!  This book was about death, but has an uplifting presence.  It truly reminds the reader to get out there and live, because anything can happen at any moment.

2 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. I did enjoy Glass Castles, probably BECAUSE her family was so messed up!

    Caitlin Doughty’s first book was really good and, I believe, it encouraged my niece to think about moving into the funeral business. Americans are so uptight about death — and traditional funeral homes keep perpetuating the weirdness. Caitlin’s 2nd book is on my short list.

    I’ve never read Agatha Christie (!) but I just may start.

    Thanks for so many great book reviews – I’m adding most to my to-read list!

    Liked by 1 person

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