Some Good Reads {Summer 2013}

I’ve always been a big reader and a lover of the public library which makes it possible for me to read as much as I do.   I usually have a tower of books on my bedside table and a long list of books to check out.   I like getting recommendations from fellow readers rabbits so I thought I’d put together a list of the books I’ve enjoyed this summer.  What’s  on your summer reading list?!?
  1. Rules of Civility is an entertaining read, reminiscent of Gatsby, and set in NYC.
  2. The Language of Baklava: A Memoir Thanks Aunt Lib for the recommendation; I love reading about food and cooking and how they can shape a life. From Amazon: “Humorous memoir of growing up with a gregarious Jordanian father who loved to cook. Diana Abu-Jaber weaves the story of her life in upstate New York and in Jordan around vividly remembered meals: everything from Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts with her Arab-American cousins to goat stew feasts under a Bedouin tent in the desert. These sensuously evoked meals in turn illuminate the two cultures of Diana’s childhood–American and Jordanian–and the richness and difficulty of straddling both.”
  3.  Headhunters is a dark, twisted story. From Amazon: “Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter, and he’s a master of his profession. But one career simply can’t support his luxurious lifestyle and his wife’s fledgling art gallery. At an art opening one night he meets Clas Greve, who is not only the perfect candidate for a major CEO job, but also, perhaps, the answer to his financial woes: Greve just so happens to mention that he owns a priceless Peter Paul Rubens painting that’s been lost since World War II—and Roger Brown just so happens to dabble in art theft. But when he breaks into Greve’s apartment, he finds more than just the painting. And Clas Greve may turn out to be the worst thing that’s ever happened to Roger Brown.”
  4. We Need to Talk About Kevin is another dark, twisted tale that will terrify you about being a parent. From Amazon:  ”Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage, in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.”
  5. The Sunshine When She’s Gone is a well written and interesting story.  From Amazon: Thea Goodman’s astute debut novel poses the question, What if you were to step out of your embedded life? And her discerning mind answers it with a tale of Manhattanites more inextricably bound together than they might imagine.”
  6. History of a Pleasure Seeker  is set among Amsterdam’s canals and I was moved to read it after my trip to the Netherlands this spring. From Amazon: ”From the acclaimed author of The Drowning People and Natural Elements, an opulent, romantic coming-of-age drama set at the height of Europe’s belle époque, written in the grand tradition with a lightness of touch that is wholly modern and original.”
  7.  Where We Belong isEmily Giffin’s latest.  It is a quick page turner with a sweet story.  I like all of her books.
  8. All There Is: Love Stories from Story Corps made me cry multiple times.  from Amazon:”In ALL THERE, StoryCorps founder Dave Isay shares stories of love and marriage from the revolutionary oral history project, revealing the many and remarkable journeys that relationships can take.In stories that carry us from the excitement and anticipation of courtship to the deep connection of lifelong commitment, we discover that love is found in the most unexpected of places—a New York tollbooth, a military base in Iraq, an airport lounge—and learn that the course it takes is as unpredictable as life itself. As the storytellers in this book start careers, build homes, and raise families, we witness the life-affirming joy of partnership, the comfort of shared sorrows, and profound gratitude in the face of loss.These stories are also testament to the heart’s remarkable endurance. In ALL THERE IS we encounter love that survives discrimination, illness, poverty, distance—even death. In the courage of people’s passion we are reminded of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. This powerful collection bares witness to real love, in its many varied forms, enriching our understanding of that most magical feeling.”
  9. The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia’s Founding is an incredibly researched history of Australia that I read on the looong flight to Sydney. From Amazon: “For 80 years between 1788 and 1868 England transported its convicts to Australia. This punishment provided the first immigrants and the work force to build the colony. Using diaries, letters, and original sources, Hughes meticulously documents this history.”
  10.  The Million Dollar Mermaid is one of my sister, Cameron’s favorite books.  She has always loved old Hollywood and she started reading old Hollywood stars’ auto/biographies in middle school.  Cameron writes: “Often the dark tales hiding behind the gorgeous smiles stunned and upset my little naive self. But I still devoured them, until I turned the page of a Marilyn Monroe biography and found myself staring at a picture of Monroe’s dead face. They took a photo of her the day after she died, and someone decided to include it in the book. That book went back to the library very quickly, and I took a hiatus. (That’s why I’m not nearly as obsessive about Monroe as most people assume I am, though of course I have a Gentlemen Prefer Blondes poster. Publishing a picture of her cadaver is so over the line, and so endemic of how she was and is treated. So I give her some space in an effort to be respectful.)The point of that digression is to say that it was with some hesitation that I picked up Esther Williams’ autobiography. But once I did read it…it was all over. Sally gave me a copy of the book for my 15th birthday: her inscription reads ‘Cam: Instead of checking this book out of the library for the the fifth time, I thought you’d like to add it to your collection. This book is so you.’ Is that a great sister or what?I highly recommend The Million Dollar Mermaid. It’s funny, poignant, chock-full of wonderful stories, and an invaluable resource for anyone interested in that era in Hollywood. I might get in trouble for this, but I learned more about how MGM worked and how movies were made reading this highly entertaining autobiography than slogging through the Hollywood Studio class in graduate school.”
  11. I flew through Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked, reading the whole thing on a flight to Seattle and I absolutely loved it! In Cooked, Pollan investigates how the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth— transform the stuff of nature into the food and drink that sustains us. There is even a whole section on, wait for it…. NC barbecue!  I’ll share an excerpt that made me smile: ” Most of us have happy memories of watching our mothers in the kitchen, performing feats that sometimes looked very much like sorcery and typically resulted in something tasty to eat. In Ancient Greece, the word for ‘cook,’ ‘butcher,’ and ‘priest’ was the same -mageiros-and the word shares an etymological root with ‘magic.’”
  12. I Suck at Girls by Justin Halpern, author of Sh*t My Dad Says is hilarious.
  13. Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis From Amazon: “When Hitler’s armies occupied Italy in 1943, they also seized control of mankind’s greatest cultural treasures. As they had done throughout Europe, the Nazis could now plunder the masterpieces of the Renaissance, the treasures of the Vatican, and the antiquities of the Roman Empire. On the eve of the Allied invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower empowered a new kind of soldier to protect these historic riches. In May 1944 two unlikely American heroes—artist Deane Keller and scholar Fred Hartt—embarked from Naples on the treasure hunt of a lifetime, tracking billions of dollars of missing art, including works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Titian, Caravaggio, and Botticelli.”
  14. The Pillars of the Earth Spending a couple of hours in Westminster Abbey made me want to re-read this story of a devout and resourceful monk who wants to build a great Gothic cathedral.
  15. An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies is an interesting look at America’s food.
  16. Sisterland is a good beach book (or sitting by the lake book in my case.) From Amazon “Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today.”
  17. Thanks Mom for the recommendation for this inspiring read, How Will You Measure Your Life? From Amazon: “From the world’s leading thinker on innovation and New York Times bestselling author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton M. Christensen, comes an unconventional book of inspiration and wisdom for achieving a fulfilling life.”
  18. Meditation and Relaxation in Plain English from Amazon: “Written by a meditation instructor with years of experience, the prose is easy to follow and informed by the author’s learned expertise. For anyone who has ever wanted to enjoy pain management, better health, and greater relaxation, Meditation and Relaxation in Plain English provides potent tools that are easy to learn and easy to enjoy.”