What are summers for? Endless trips to the library and forays to e-bookstores to find titles that make my insides light up just by looking at them? Who needs trash tv or alcohol? I have books!
(Disclosure: some trash tv will definitely be a part of my summer – my guilty pleasure is currently Scandal.)
But, back to nobler pursuits . . . The days of my childhood were filled with hours of reading. In our tv-less home, there wasn’t always a lot else to do. And I cannot say I regret the half week I spent devouring every titillating page of Gone with the Wind, or the many nights spent curled up with my mom and siblings listening to Narnia or Little House on the Prairie book by book until we finished an entire series read aloud.
Nowadays I have responsibilities. And yet . . . . reading calls, with its promise to entertain and inform. To bring me peace and joy. To, in fact, make me a better person. What else offers such high gains – and truly delivers?
So here’s my Summer 2017 Reading List. In the hopes that some of you may wish to read, or share your own lists!
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I read Paula Hawkins debut novel, The Girl on the Train, as a bit of a dare. On a late night date with my husband, we each picked out a book for each other. I read mine in a few days, with my heart racing. I put it down with relief declaring that thrillers weren’t my thing. But Paula Hawkins has immediately followed with her second book a thriller focusing again, not on spies or serial murderers, but on everyday women just like us. The complexity of her characters is familiarly haunting. And she started out as a content freelancer like me. I’m both excited and scared to pick this one up.
A recent article in Vogue (yes, Vogue) opened to my eyes to what many others probably already knew, Arhundati Roy is a genius. This debut novel took her ten years to write and has just been followed, twenty years later, by her second novel. I’m reading this one first. She’s also written a series of political essays about her native India that have firmly entrenched her as a political force to be reckoned with.
An interview I hear on NPR’s Fresh Air podcast, with the author, Viet Than Nguyen, stole my heart. Brought to America as a pre-teen, much like my own younger children, he found a world that changed him in both positive and negative ways. Now, all grown up, he reminds us that Vietnam is a county, not a war.
In line with the last book, this full length graphic novel (not a natural genre for me, but I love to see how real authors communicate so deeply with such different form) explores family immigration from Vietnam. I gifted this book to my 14 year old son to remind him not only of what his siblings experience, but also of the challenges of immigrant children worldwide. He read it in a day. Now its my turn.
My 17 year old introduced me to this book after selecting it off her AP English free-read list. One of those non-fiction books that reads more like fiction, this is the story of Hela, the cell line that informed much of modern medicine, and the cells original (unaware) donor. This book illuminates racial divides, bioethics, and the complexities of modern medical research.
I pre-ordered this gem after a year or more following Erin’s stunning instagram account and drooling over her flowers. This is a a book you can read through with delight even if you never set foot in the soil. I plan to gift it to a few people, but I want to actually sit down and revel in it myself first! Maybe next year I’ll order some of her incredibly diverse seeds too.
And an Audio Book
Trevor Noah, has been in the news a lot lately with his late night news comedy routines, but not everyone knows his full story. Born in South Africa during the days of apartheid, Trevor’s mere existence as the child of a black mom and a white dad was legitimately a crime. He grew up with the realities of an apartheid I’ve never imagined really existed but that all of us should know about.
(I’ll listen to this one on Audible, one of my favorite ways to use driving, exercising, folding, or dish-washing to best advantage. If you want to try a membership (get a free book and cancel within thirty days to pay nothing) sign up here. Audible is one of my favorite mom hacks – I’ve been recommending it to others for years. My fourteen year old and twelve year old spend many of their hours engrossed in these audio books, pacing the yard, staring off into space, or sketching while they listen. During long car rides our whole family listens to shared stories – like Malala.)
I’m always discovering new books I want to read, often by stumbling upon gems in our local library’s “new books” section, located conveniently right beside the kids books! So I can only imagine this list is not yet complete: let’s maybe just call this Installment One of my 2017 Summer Reading. More to follow, more likely than not.