Summer is the absolute best time for reading. Lazy, warm days. Lots of time in Maine and at home, relaxing by the pool. It is the one time of year where I actually give myself plenty of time to indulge in my favorite pass-time. Reading. Summer and vacations are when I just let loose and this summer was no exception, although I felt like this year I had more variety and more outstanding and enjoyable books to indulge in…Starting with:
Seven Letters from Paris, by Samantha Verant- This was a wonderful book. Written like a novel but it was actually a memoir. I am very much into everything Paris these days. We were just there in August celebrating our 50th Anniversary so all summer long I was picking up books about Paris. The story was so interesting. It was about a girl, who meet a man in Paris, when she was nineteen years old. Twenty years later, on the brink of divorce, she found 7 letters from her one day lover from many years ago in Paris. She writes to him on the internet and actually finds him after reading some of the letters and the story goes on from there. Honestly, it was really sweet and true. This was a memoir. There is a follow-up to this book and I will be ordering that soon. This book will make you swoon and believe in love all over again…5 stars
There There a novel by Tommy Orange - This book got so much hype and when I read that it was about the Native Americans it really piqued my curiosity because both my husband and I do mission work with the Navajo Native Americans. “The novel grapples with a complex and painful history, and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide.” It all comes together at the Big Oakland PowWow. It was slow and lots of times very hard to understand what was going on and I totally lost track of who belong to who and how they were all connected. I did finish the book because some of the chapters stand alone and they were very good. I think if the book was written in a more cohesive manner, I would have understood it better. So for me, I could only give this 3 stars and that was mostly based on the beautiful writing when I was reading those stand alone chapters. I’m sure I missed the point somewhere because this book got rave reviews. 3 stars.
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro - I love books about writing. I’m always looking for that little something that will click or send a spark and get stored somewhere in my brain and make me feel like, yes, I can write also. Not like a published author but enough so that I enjoy my writing and it works for me. It was her story of not only her writing but her life. She also included writings by other authors as examples of writing. So many quotes to underline and save for inspiration. Then, also guidance on the writing life and how to accomplish this. This book would be great just for the share please of reading her story but also wonderful if you like reading about writing. I also like that she included useful books to read and told you why you should read them. I have many of those underlined. For me, it was a 5 star book and one that will sit in my office to be thumbed through from time to time…and quotes to be used and absorbed. 5 Stars
The Paris Winter- by Imogen Robertson. This book was somewhat of a surprise. It turned out to be quite good. A story of poverty, betrayal and revenge. Don’t you love a good revenge story. It was hard to put down as Maud Heighton moves to Paris to paint but finds out that Paris is no place for someone with a light purse, especially in the winter. She gets down on her luck and takes a job as a live-in companion of a young girl, whose brother is in charge of her care. Drugs, fraud and deception follow…but in the end, revenge wins out. 5 Stars for this lovely book.
Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - I met Lisa Wingate at the Random book event that Jim and I went to last fall in New York. She is a new writer for me and she is a lovely person who we enjoyed talking with about her book. This book is based on a true event in 1939 in Memphis. It’s the story of the Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society. Lisa unravels the lives of countless children. Children that were stolen, changing their past and their future. Rill Foss is a twelve year old river gypsy and you will fall in love with her and root for her all the way through the book.. It’s a powerful story. What makes it so powerful is the fact that this book is based on true events. Lisa is a wonderful and heartfelt writer. I just loved this book. 5 huge stars.
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe and other stories by Carson McCullers - A sweet little gem here that I loved. I’m not usually one for short stories but every once in awhile one comes along that is worth taking a peek at. The writing is beautiful. The stories entertaining and thought provoking. My favorite was the Ballad of the Sad Cafe. “It is a haunting tale of a human triangle that culminates in an astonishing brawl, the novella introduces us to Miss Amelia, a formidable southern woman whose cafe serves as the town’s gathering place.” Also included in this collection is “Wonderkind”, McCuller’s first published story, written when she was only seventeen years old. A small book packed with a big bang. 5 Wonderful stars for this one.
The Long Haul A Truckers Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy - More than thirty years ago, Finn Murphy dropped out of college to become a long-haul trucker. Since then he’s covered more than a million miles as a mover, packing, loading, and hauling people’s belongings all over America. “Like a Mark Twain behind the wheel, Murphy, takes us on the road coast to coast and city to city with a voice that’s honest and direct and sometimes even poetic.” This would not usually be a book that I would even give a second glance but the owner of my favorite independent bookstore in Bridgton Maine, suggested this for me. Honestly, I will never look at another moving company quite the same again. “It was fascinating in so many ways. I learned a lot. It was funny and sad and wise, and it show us something about the lives of people we depend on.” To me that is what reading is all about. Yes, I love to be entertained but sometimes I also love the learning. This book would make a great gift for anyone on your list. 5 Christmas stars under the tree…
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - So many people around me were reading this book and saying how wonderful and scary it was so I was finally forced to get it. Mysteries are not really my genre but it’s good to change it up every once in awhile. It was good, fascinating and fast paced. Then after awhile it was starting to fall apart for me. It started to not be so believable and just went on a bit to long. I did enjoy it and it was a nice change for a summer read. At the end of the day though, it didn't grab me. It surely could have been me because so many others loved it…I’m glad I read it but was happy to get back to something a bit more exciting…3 Stars for Cabin 10
Sting Ray Afternoons by Steve Rushin - This was my favorite summer read. This book was the book I needed as I continue to work on my own neighborhood project. It took me back both to things from my past but also to the years when I was bringing up my son. “If you existed in the 1970’s and had any awareness of the world around you, Steve Rushin’s Sting-Ray Afternoons is going to hit you like the smell of Clairol Herbal Essence Shampoo. Smart as heck, laugh-out-loud funny and warm”. I experienced my sons growing up all over again and what, at times, felt like a stressful life, looking back it was a wonderful life. So many reminders of tv shows, cars, soda fountains, and vacation drives in the Woody. A perfect summer book, but honestly, a perfect book for relaxing and reflecting at any time. I see you snuggled up on the couch with a warm, fuzzy blanket, fire glowing and either a tea or a glass of wine, reading as the snow flies. I have already bought this one for me son for Christmas. I’m hoping it brings back some wonderful memories for him also. Of course this one gets a big fat -5 stars.
The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah - If you read The Nightingale by the same author and loved it, you will also love this. I just realized as I was looking this book over that this story was also set in the 70’s. It was a busy era that produces great reads for me. “Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam a changed and volatile man. When he loses another job, he packs up and moves his family to Alaska, where they will live off the grid, in America’s last frontier.” Ernt doesn’t fit in with the locals but they do take a liking to his wife and young daughter. As time goes on and the story expands, Ernt becomes much more abusive His wife still does not call the authorities for help. Then one night, things get really dangerous and out of control and the daughter has to be the one to protect her Mother and risk both of their lives. “The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.” It also gives the reader a look at what PTSS might look like. 5 Stars for this one also.
The Sounds and Smells of My Childhood by Mike McCarthy - This one hooked me in because the cover looks like the Maine coast and because I was looking for books that would trigger memories and especially smells of my childhood. Well, this book did not accomplish any of that. The story was about the state of Michigan, which is nothing like New England either in sounds or smells. The writing was no very strong either. I made it half-way through and gave up. One loser out of 11 reads is not so bad.
So these are my summer reads. Eleven wonderful books that took me so many wonderful places and I learned so much. Reading for me is never a waste of time. It’s pleasure and learning. A gift I can give to myself whenever I like, which is everyday.
The Fall is moving a bit slower but I hope to get them up in a more timely manner. I hope you had a great summer of reading also. A beautiful way to drift away a few hours, meeting new people and discovering new places, from a beach chair, hammock or sitting in the sand. By the way you have probably figured out that I love not only the stories I read but the physical feel of a book. No I-pad for me. I need that physical connection of pages and smells and underlining and side notes. It’s so much more than just the words…but whichever way you choose to go, just enjoy…
The book photos in this blog post were taken with the Canon 5DMk111 and the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. The black and white photo of the boys was taken with the I-phone 7 plus.
Thank you to all who stop by. I read every comment and reply to them all.