Summer loving is good but summer reading can be even better! I won’t waste your time with long explanations — I want to give you plenty of hours to spend reading! Add in a little loving when you can, and you will have a great summer.
Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende — a wonderful new novel from the great Isabel Allende, this book will have you crying buckets and laughing plenty, and thinking all the time: how could I survive something like this? what is the purpose of memory? what influences can I bring to bear on the young people in my life? how can I respect and learn from the old people in my life? So many great lines, descriptions, and characters, this is a book to underline and return to, and enjoy down to the very last page.
Bad Monkey by Carl Hiassen — yes, Hiassen is back, as raunchy and wild and incisive and topical as ever. Applying his journalistic eye for detail and his humanistic sense of outrage when things of the planet go way wrong, Hiassen takes on corruption in the Florida Keys and beyond. Never a dull moment and always a great ride.
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan — I won’t guess his true weight but Dad is hilarious. For me, this book was a trip down memory lane, when life among the savages (young children) made me crazy, crazy in love and crazy in every other way. Peanut butter crackers for dinner, anyone? With baby carrots on the side, of course.
Letter to a Young Scientist by Edward O. Wilson — everything I ever wanted to know about ants and more. Inspiring in his enthusiasm, impressive in his intelligence, and engaging in his writing, this book is just the right length (short) and just the right tone (life is amazing), for a weekend spent in a lawn chair watching the grass grow and wondering about the lives teeming within its wildness.
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins — best book ever. Enough said?
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa – decay and ruin, love and food, Sicily and need I say more?
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating — everything I ever wanted to know about snails and life, and I promise you: this book will inspire and enthrall.
The Hidden Life of Deer by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas – Don’t hate the deer munching on your garden this summer, try to understand them. Thomas will take you to a new place of appreciation of this omnivorous (don’t believe what the nursery workers tell you – if hungry enough, there is nothing a deer won’t eat) creature populating gardens, parks, and woods everywhere.
The Sailor from Gibraltar by Marguerite Duras – a woman in search of her lost lover, a man in search of meaning in his life (and love), the Mediterranean and heat and sex. Perfect for beach or bath.
My House in Umbria by William Trevor – a woman who writes romances must face reality to save people she loves, and those whom she has just met. Umbria, great food, beautiful old house, heat, love.
Anything by Louise Penny – and a new one coming out this summer! How the Light Gets In comes out in time for Labor Day. In the meantime, read everything else she’s ever written!
Anything by Andrea Camilleri – back to Italy, Sicily this time, with a grouchy detective and a beautiful backdrop and crimes to curl your brain around.
Fancy a trip to Istanbul but worried about the uprising? Go via any mysteries by Jason Goodwin — you’ll get plenty of the history and the sites to see (the cisterns, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia). Have I taken you back to mysteries? Yes, they are my weakness and if I can combine them with travel….perfection.
From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas L. Friedman — this book has aged well; it is never dated, although the politics by now are a bit historical. Never mind, the settings (and the conflicts?) are eternal.
In the Shadow of the Sun by Ryzard Kapucinski – another book by a journalist, the politics are fascinating but the people and the landscapes steal the book – a visit to Africa, up, down, and all around, that you will never forget.