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What I’m Reading: Summer

2014 August 7
by Becky

Something about the summer makes me want to read more than usual. My pre-bed book time doubles or triples, taking me into the wee hours…or maybe it’s the fact that sleeping is getting exponentially more uncomfortable.

I know summer is coming to a close very quickly (what??!) but a few of my favorite bloggers have posted some suggested “summer books”, and since I’ve only shared Ethan’s favorite books over the last year (see here, here, and here), I thought it was high time I shared some of mine. Not all of these were read within the confines of summer, but they are all fairly recent reads that I found very enjoyable…perfect for vacation, long car ride, or soccer practice reading. In case you are getting away or just need a new nightly read, here are a few of my favorites.

TheHusbandsSecret BabyCatcher Sisterland Curtis Sittenfeld TheParisWife
The Husband’s Secret Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife Sisterland: A Novel The Paris Wife: A Novel
MiddleSex RulesofInheritance The Expats Steve Jobs
Middlesex: A Novel The Rules of Inheritance: A Memoir The Expats: A Novel Steve Jobs

1. The Husband’s Secret is one my friend/neighbor Lindsey posted on her Facebook page. I didn’t’ seem like something on which I’d typically jump, but I was in need of a new book and took a chance. It was great. I flew through, riveted by the story. It’s set in Australia, which is fun, and the characters are fascinating.

2. Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife is one I just wrapped up and holy cow I LOVED it. I actually recommended it to my week-over-due friend Liz to help jump start her labor…if all these stories about the incredible midwife who “catches” babies day in and day out doesn’t give you the urge to push, I don’t know what will! Reminiscent of “Call the Midwife” but with more background information and, well, more details. I never wanted it to end.

3. Sisterland: A Novel was one I read over the winter and it was classic Curtis Sittenfeld. If you haven’t read her before, her style is such that you CANNOT put her books down. You just want to know what happens next, even if you don’t always connect with the story. This book happens to be set in St. Louis and gives very detailed accounts of the day-to-day St. Louis landmarks, grocery stores, street names, etc. that just tickled me all the way through. The story is a quirky tale of twin sisters and has a twist…that’s all I’m saying. The author lives here so I’m always expecting to run into her…St. Louis is, afterall, the biggest small town in the country.

4. The Paris Wife: A Novel was enjoyable from start to finish. While I’ve tried and failed to read Hemingway’s work, this story based on his life in Paris was truly incredible. The book is historical fiction, but is based on the letters exchanged between Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. The description of their travels through Europe and experiences with famous names like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein made me feel like I was traveling right along with them. The glamour and intense love turns sour, of course, and is quite astonishing in the end. I plan to read more about Hemingway’s life, he is one fascinating dude.

5. Middlesex: A Novel  Someone mentioned this book to me long ago and just a few weeks ago I rustled up the sample I’d downloaded on my Kindle (the way I remember what I want to read) and gave it a try. I was hooked. Without giving anything away, I’ll say this page-turner is a work of fiction but you could have fooled me…it reads as a memoir. The story just kept unfolding in ways I never anticipated. It’s a big story but totally awesome and I plan to read more of the author’s books. His writing style is right up my alley.

6. The Rules of Inheritance: A Memoir was one I read a while back so it’s fuzzy, but I remember immensely enjoying the book. Very interesting was the way the author jumbled the chapter order…you don’t know what part of her life will come next. I usually love memoirs and this was no exception. Coping with the loss of both her parents by age 25, she writes about school, her parents’ illnesses, love, and family. The writing is beautiful and hard to put down.

7. The Expats: A Novel is a quick, fun read. Not too much to think about, just a cool setting (Luxembourg), cool premise (a family moving there for the husband’s shady job), and clear air of mystery (the mom is ex-CIA). No grand novel but totally perfect for a little escape.

8. Steve Jobs is quite an undertaking, but totally worth the time and commitment. I had no idea how long the book was—I read on a kindle—until I saw it on a shelf. It’s HUGE. But, it needs to be. We all know Steve Jobs is a brilliant innovator, but what was his life before the iMac? iPod? iPhone? iAnything? This book tells you everything, from birth to his much too early death. The detail is astonishing and gives the reader a whole new perspective on taking risks and believing in the future. Loved it. Do yourself a favor, skip the Ashton Kutcher movie and read the book…much better.


Infidel was my book club choice this month…a little heavy but it had been on my list for a loooong time as a recommendation from my parents. The author was born in Somalia and also lived in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia before seeking asylum in Holland. Raised Muslim, she tells an emotional story of her childhood , focused on the inequalities between men and women.

After seeing the preview for the show on HBO, I tried reading The Leftovers. It’s based on an anomaly where 2% of the world’s population just vanishes, a sort of “rapture” but totally random, not based on religion. Eh. It didn’t really go anywhere.

Last month’s book club read was Flight Behavior and, while it started out pretty darn interesting, the book fizzled out and died. I was pretty frustrated throughout the entire thing but wanted to make it through, to get the payoff at the end. But nope, nothing. I was pretty disappointed. I’ve heard the The Poisonwood Bible is great, same author, so I’ll be giving it a try soon.

Game Change is probably the first political book I’ve ever read and I LOVED it. It tells the story behind all sides of the 2008 Presidential Campaign, talking about each of the primary candidates and their struggles to get on the ballot, then takes you on a super behind-the-scenes look at the McCain and Obama campaigns. Fascinating. I LOVED that election year. There was a movie made out of one section of this book that is really great, same title, Game Change, and stars Julianne Moore as a spitting image of Sarah Palin. I’ve seen it 10 times and still can’t believe how good the acting is. I bet you can watch it for free on HBO OnDemand. It’s on a lot.

What should read next? What was your favorite summer read? Have you enjoyed any of the books above?

11 Responses
  1. Linda Johnson permalink
    August 7, 2014

    I’m enjoying Middlesex thanks to your recommendation. Once that book is done then off to another one of your reads. I think the Husbands Secret sounds interesting.

    • Becky permalink*
      August 10, 2014

      You’ll love it!! It’s quick.

  2. August 7, 2014

    Flight Behavior was okay – but not my favorite Kingsolver book. The Poisonwood Bible is another story – I’ve read it at least three times. Put it next on your list. I also loved Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and many of her other works. She’s written the forwards for some of the books written by family friends (all related to food, sustainability, etc.). I love her in interviews as well – Fresh Air and the Diane Rehm show.

    Middlesex was terrific – it feels like decades since I read it though.

    Just finished Divergent – not a typical read for me, but was a good beach read.
    Kristin recently posted..(story)time: The Man Who Walked Between the TowersMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      August 10, 2014

      Poisonwood has been started and put on hold for this months book club book. As soon as I’m done, it’s back to it. Can’t wait!!

  3. August 7, 2014

    Or hey, one more – Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann – just wrote about it this morning.
    Kristin recently posted..(story)time: The Man Who Walked Between the TowersMy Profile

    • Becky permalink*
      August 10, 2014

      This sounds fascinating.

  4. carmel permalink
    August 7, 2014

    nice job! pls post more reads; I LOVE it!!

    I just finished Sisterland (4/5 stars, only because I live in StL; it’d be less if I didn’t. Just the novelty of reading about Schnucks and the hwy 40 construction mess was enough for me!)

    You might like China Dolls (if you like Lisa See). It’s historical fiction, WWII, San Francisco, night club dancers. Not a great novel but it was different and entertaining.

    Missing Microbes was another interesting read, but nonfiction. It’s about the influence of antibiotics on our bodies and our world. It’s very scientific but easy to understand. I found it fascinating.

    And the camper/wildebeast inside you may like “Wild” by Strayed. The author recounts her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

    I’m currently reading “Monique and the Mango Rains” about a girl doing two years in the Peace Corps in Africa. She follows the midwife/health care worker around rural Mali. Very interesting.

    OK I have about ten more but now I have to go add all of yours to my “to-read” list on GoodReads. Yeah! Thanks for the tips!!

    • Becky permalink*
      August 10, 2014

      Lisa See is on my list thanks to you! And Wild sounds fantastic…I’ve seen it out there. All your suggestions are always good!

  5. August 8, 2014

    Thanks for the suggestions. Read Poisonwood Bible a number of years ago and liked it as well as Steve Jobs which I really enjoyed. I liked “Cry of the Kalahari” about a couple who who goes deep into Africa to study lions and all the incredible challenges they face. Now I’m reading “Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan. Will let you know.

    • Becky permalink*
      August 10, 2014

      Cry of the Kalahari, on the list!

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