Lovelies, maybe in another life I was a librarian? As a child, we were read to (and eventually read with our parents) every night. Both our parents are big readers, and it was just ingrained in us from an early age to love books. I don't just love books, I need books. There's nothing so exciting for me as going to the library and bringing home a tote bag full of new books to read. I get this gene from my mother who used to check out approximately 4,847 books for us on one library visit. From my father, I get the desire to read every chance I get. I read while eating breakfast, I read in-between classes, I always have at least one book (sometimes one book and my Nook!) with me at all times...reading is part of who I am. Which is why I think I get so giddy making these book list posts! What a dork, right? I just love sharing books with people. I love hearing if they've read the book, or what they think of it (agree or disagree, I love a hardy discussion on books!). So, here it is, my second "Books to Read This Summer" book list...
Let me know, have you read any of these? Did you like them or hate them? What are you currently reading? And, as always, come find me on Good Reads and be my friend!
PS. Here's what I'm currently working my way through this summer. Here are some books from my Spring List, and from my Winter List, and of course, my giant list of books to read from last summer!
1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: First of all, if you haven't read Attachments by Rowell, then go read that and come back. You know that feeling you had when you were 16 and thought you were falling in love for the first time? Every movement, every eye twitch, every sound the other person makes makes you jump and feel all warm inside? Rowell is 100% on target with all of those feelings in this amazingly sweet, and heartbreaking, novel. Eleanor and Park are two not-so-popular kids in Nebraska who eventually find their way to each other; set in the 1980s, with a backdrop of awesome music, these two fall in love...hard. And, the best part is, you watch them fall for each other from both sides, both of their perspectives. This book pulls at your heart, and at times, makes you tear up, makes you smile, and makes you nostalgic. Rowell is a fantastic writer and I can't wait to read more of her work.
2. The Healing by Jonathan Odell: I tend to love books about the South; maybe it's because I married a Southerner, but there's something I just adore about reading about characters from such a different part of America as I know. In The Healing, Odell takes you on a journey alongside a young girl, as she learns that the world she thought she knew is a vastly different place. From Amazon, "Plantation mistress Amanda Satterfield’s intense grief over losing her daughter crosses the line into madness when she takes a newborn slave child as her own and names her Granada. Troubled by his wife’s disturbing mental state and concerned about a mysterious plague that is sweeping through the plantation’s slave quarters, Master Satterfield purchases Polly Shine, a slave woman known as a healer who immediately senses a spark of the same gift in Granada. Soon, a domestic battle of wills begins, leading to a tragedy that weaves together three generations of strong Southern women." At times this novel is heart-wrenchingly sad, at times, there are miracles, and sometimes, when you read it late at night, it can be a little creepy, but Odell weaves a beautiful story through it all, one that is bound to stick with you for a long time.
3. The Darlings by Cristina Alger: First of all, I love a great family dramatic novel. It's one of my top favorite genres of books: novels about families in crisis? Sign me up! Secondly, this novel reminds me of a modern day-NYC-Downton Abbey. See, there's this high powered New York City family, but as the economy turns, crap starts to turn up...and in the span of just a few days (the book goes by time and date, which is fun), people start to change, real feelings start to come out, and as a plus, I learned a lot about the financial industry (which I know nothing about, since I have nothing to give them, ha!). This is one of those "can't-put-down" books because it does fly by--so much happens in so little time! But, it's also a great read because as much as you like some of the characters, you're also mad at them at times; they're fleshed out wonderfully and you really indeed feel like you're reading about a real-life family. This would make a great vacation read!
4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: Yes, I know I'm like years behind the trend on this book, but let me make a point about this...usually I'm not a fan of the "in-trend" books out there. I loathed Water for Elephants, and I couldn't make it through Cutting for Stone, so when it came time to read Gone Girl, I went into it with my eyebrow up. Hm, I thought, we will see. But, as it happens very, very, very rarely (ask Eric), I was dead wrong. So wrong! I loved this book. I loved the mystery of it, how it twists and turns, and especially the creepy psychological aspect of it. Again, this was a book that I read very quickly, because you just want to find out what happens. This would make a great vacation read, or airplane read, because it does go fast (put it on your E-reader, as this is a big book!). A highly recommend Gone Girl, as trendy as it is!
5. Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee: Let me start off by saying that this book is literally an epic novel. It is a long read, with many characters, and covers many years of these peoples' lives. However, that being said...it's a fantastic novel. The story focuses around Casey Han, a recent Princeton graduate who comes home to her working-class family; after four years in the upper crust of society, Casey is finding it hard to adjust to her "new life." Now, let me get this straight: you won't always, or most of the time, like Casey's decision making. She's bratty, self-indulgent, and sometimes really stupid with her decisions...but she's human, and for that, we follow her trials throughout life. The other characters in the book and well fleshed out and some we love, some we hate; either way, this is quite an interesting read about culture, money, society, and class.
6. The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger: I loved this novel. Let me just say that first. Second off, I tend to read similar books in pairs, and I read this right before Free Food for Millionaires, and they were very similar in my head. Both are about women from other culture, both about relationships, and both of these were seriously epic novels. The Newlyweds is a modern day novel: man meets girl online, girl moves to America from Bangladesh to marry him, and therefore: clash of cultures, the question of what is family, knowing who you are, and also: what does it mean to be an adult child of your parents? This book is captivating and the story never ceases for a moment. You learn to love, care for, and sigh at the characters, and in the end, you can't decide how you feel each person's story really turned out. This was a fantastic novel about relationships with everyone you encounter, and especially about marriage and the ups and downs of it.
7. The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood: As you know by now, I love novels when the characters lives are told separately, but eventually come together in a way that you never figured. I stupidly starting reading The Obituary Writer thinking it would be about death, but it's the about the furthest thing from death: giving people hope. The story travels back and forth between the 1920's and the 1960's, where we meet two women who are both going through traumatic experiences in their life. As the story goes on, you find out how their stories intersect, and by the end of the novel, you walk away feeling full of hope. It's a sweet story, and extremely well written; a wonderful historical novel about love, loss, and life.
8. A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams: If I had one book you should read this summer, this is the one. I discovered the book at the library as soon as it came out, and it has no doubt been one of the best books I've read in a long time. Set in a small oceanfront community in Rhode Island, A Hundred Summers also jumps back and forth over time, which I love, because it's sort of like a mini-mystery in that sense. You get to know the characters from both their younger and older perspectives. A Hundred Summers is an all encompassing book which deals with issues such as anti-Semitism, class divisions, love, loss, affairs, and in the end, emotional and physical storms. I can't praise the writing enough, this is simply a wonderful book, which is perfect for your book club or beach read.
9. Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos: We all know Nia Vardalos as the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but we do not see the other side of her: a woman with fertility issues who goes on to become a huge advocate for adoption. As someone who reads a lot of autobiographies, I can tell you that many of them are not well written, and a drag to read. However, Vardalos is an excellent writer, who captures your attention and heart from page one. The books weaves through her autobiography, through her desire for a family, and eventually, through her journey as a new mother. This book totally made me cry at times, and laugh out loud. It's a wonderful story about families, mothers, and never giving up on your dreams.
10. How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And Other Adventures in Parenting by Mei-Ling Hopgood: There's this new genre in sociological writing where the author weaves in their own autobiographical stories within the pages of the book, and I got to say, I don't mind this! I picked up this book because I'm fascinated with parenting around the world, and Hopgood did not disappoint. Each chapter takes you to a new place, with their own rituals and customs, and it is more than interesting to read about every society. I actually walked away from reading this book sort of disappointed in the "American way" of raising children (and pregnancy) because we can sometimes be so narrow-minded! If you're a parent, or soon-to-be parent or even just love learning about other cultures, you will indeed love this book.