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The First Summer Reading List

by on June 22nd, 2009

[Editor’s Note: We love summer reading lists.  Katie, an amazingly powerful reader, took on the first one, so we now go to you to send us your reading list for this summer.  Work, play, or whatever.  We want to know what you are reading, or planning to read.]

Every summer, I look forward to Farmers Markets, concerts on the square, Sunday afternoons at the splash pad and lazy nights spent reading in the hammock. I love my kids dearly, but 8 pm is that magical time when they’re both in bed for the night, and I have a half an hour or an hour to myself, and most of this time is spent reading. On tap for this summer, I hope to enjoy the list below. Please share your insights, suggestions and your own book lists for the summer.

1. Ghost Writer by John Harwood

I checked this out from the library and started reading it last night. So far, the story centers around Gerard Freeman, growing up with a strange and secretive mother, and I expect things to become enthralling and eerie. Entertainment Weekly claims that with his “intricate and engrossing first novel, John Harwood raises the ghost of the Victorian ghost story, goosing the action with a modern spin.”

2. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

My mother loaned me this paperback, and I try to read anything my mom suggests. Reading is a pasttime I share with my mom and sister, and it’s nice to be able to discuss books we’ve all read. Plus, I haven’t seen the movie based on the book yet, so nothing major has been spoiled for me. I think this is mostly about marriage and its struggles and rewards, which sounds interesting enough to me.

3. The U.S. Army Survival Manual by the U.S. Government

Because I bought this a while ago, and it’s still in my to-read pile, and I should learn something useful from my book list.

4. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

I have heard nothing but good reviews for this book. It’s a loose retelling of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the wicked witch’s perspective. “Maguire combines puckish humor and bracing pessimism in this fantastical meditation on good and evil, God and free will, which should, despite being far removed in spirit from the Baum books, captivate devotees of fantasy,” according to Publishers Weekly.

5. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Daniel, the book’s main character is the son of a widowed bookstore owner and is 10 when he discovers a book called The Shadow of the Wind. Rumors speak of a gruesomely disfigured man burning every copy of this book that he finds. A friend suggested this to me, and I’m a sucker for a book about books.

6. King of Lies by John Hart

I recently read Down River by this author and was entertained enough to seek out more of his work. Publishers Weekly calls this a “stunning debut, an exceptionally deep and complex mystery thriller, comparing favorably to the best of Scott Turow.”

7. Wish You Were Here by Stewart O’Nan

I have read a handful of books by O’Nan and wonder why he isn’t more popular. His books are intriguing and clever, and his characters are raw and real and relatable. This one is about a dysfunctional family who has lost their husband/father, and they all go to their summer cottage for a week to officially say goodbye to him.

8. Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

My official “beach read” for the summer, this is the first of a series about a knitting store which draws loyal locals and a few oddballs. I crochet and am hoping to teach myself to knit this summer, so perhaps this will provide inspiration when my scarf turns into a legwarmer.

9. Immortality by Milan Kundera

This will probably my most difficult read this summer, but I enjoyed Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being and think I’m ready to read more from him. I own Immortality and the Book of Laughter and Forgetting, so I will be happy if I read either.

10. Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

This was a Mother’s Day gift, and I read any book from my husband and children. I think this fulfills my obligatory chick lit requirement for the summer, though Stephen King has it on his summer reading list, claiming “Men out there who think Ms. Picoult is a chick thing need to get with the program. Her books are an everyone thing.”

11. Perfection by Julie Metz

A memoir about the author’s seemingly perfect marriage, until her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving Julie a widow and a single mother. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers her late husband’s infidelity.

12. Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge is possibly the best book I’ve read this year, plus it won the Pulitzer. I need to read more from Elizabeth Strout.

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