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What I’m Reading: Summer 2016

2016 July 16
by Becky

I’m really sad to see how long it’s been since I’ve shared my reading list, almost a year, and it just further drives home a point that’s been on my mind lately—that summer will be gone before we know it. What’s funny, is in my last book post I talked about having trouble staying awake to read at night, which is a problem I no longer have. Apparently that whole new baby business IS exhausting for the first year. Weird.

I do, however, still find time to read every night before falling into a sleep coma. It’s my ritual and I can’t get to sleep without at least a few pages! And something making it easy these days is my new Kindle Paperwhite. This baby is is light years ahead of my old keyboard Kindle. My favorite part is that it’s backlit, meaning I don’t need a case with a built-in light. I was trying to wait till Christmas, it would have been the prefect gift from Stu (one that I wouldn’t return), but my old one pooped out last week. Christmas came early.

Anyway, below are some of the titles I’ve ripped through in the last few months, leaving off the ones that were big stinkers…there were a couple of those.

TheNightingale Shanghai_Girls heartburn ALittleLife
The Nightingale Shanghai Girls Heartburn A Little Life
The5thWave FlightofDreams Someofmybestfriendsareblack thebostongirl
The 5th Wave Flight of Dreams Some of My Best Friends Are Black The Boston Girl

1. I’m going to start with The Nightingale, because it’s been awarded a top spot on my personal best books list, joining the ranks those stories I cannot stop thinking about, ones that put me through every emotion and consume me. The story starts in 1939 France, just before the German occupation, and follows two sisters as they take very different, yet both very brave, paths to survive World War II. One sister waits with her son for her soldier husband’s return to their small village, the other joins the resistance, risking her life to help downed pilots cross the boarder to Spain. It is a thrilling journey, one who’s end I grieved. I could have listened to these stories forever. If you liked All the Light We Cannot See, you’ll want to read this.

2. My pick last month for book club was Shanghai Girls, another story about sisters but one set in China as the Japanese drop bombs on Shanghai. They are married off to Chinese American brothers and undergo an epic journey to Los Angeles to live with their new extended family. It was a tale I hadn’t heard before, one about Chinese traditions, culture and immigrant life. It wasn’t a happy book, but I enjoyed it the things I learned from it.

3. I’m scooting this one to the top of this list because it is a perfect summer read. Have you tried Nora Ephron? If not, Heartburn is where to begin. You may have seen the movie with Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson, I didn’t realize I had until about half way through, but the book is of course better. It begins with Rachel, a New Yorker living in Washington DC, who’s just discovered her husband’s infidelity. Ephron’s writing style is adorable, trailing off into hilarious side stories, she somehow takes an incredibly bad situation and makes you laugh about it. For an extra special treat, listen to the audio version, Meryl Streep is the reader and is spectacular. When you’re done, watch the movie—it’s free on Amazon Prime Video—and laugh at Meryl’s giant glasses and 80’s-wear.

4. If you’re looking for an epic novel that will stick to your brain forever and ever, A Little Life is the one. I will never scrub this disturbing and wonderful and gorgeously written story from my memory, and I will never stop imaging its main character, Jude. This is not for the faint of heart, there’s some really rough stuff in this book, so bad I could barely read it at points and wept thinking about any of it actually happening to a human, any human. But really beautiful things things do happen, and you’ll want to keep turning pages until they do. And then some more bad. As a whole, it’s a story you can’t believe anyone could dream up, much less so put it so eloquently on paper…I was caught up in the writing, I wanted to know more. I wanted so badly for everything to work out. Not light at all, plus it’s long, but easy to dive into, then it grabs hold and won’t let go.

5. My easiest and most indulgent read has to be The 5th Wave. YA fiction at it’s best, it involves a alien takeover and strong young girl who survives when no one else does. Guess what? She finds a few other survivors!! And kisses a boy! And the plot follows a few other strong kids as they are brainwashed to follow the aliens! It’s not totally original (think Diverent and Hunger Games and V) but it was quick and I didn’t hate it. It was VERY dooms day though, I can’t imagine how these aliens will be beaten. And I of course got sucked right into the second book, The Infinite Sea.

6. Ever read a book and realize it was about something you never knew you wanted to know about? That was Flight of Dreams, a book club pick a couple months back, which is a historical fiction novel based on the Hindenberg crash. I feel a little like a zeppelin expert, so ask me anything. I found this air ship fascinating and was looking up drawings and blue prints and crash pictures to learn more while reading the book. Even Ethan was pretty obsessed and joined me in my research. It was an easy read, a little slow in places, but so interesting I couldn’t put it down. The author very much based the book on historical details, but the story is fictional.

7. Some of My Best Friends Are Black was a book club read that raised the feathers on everyone in our group—both with disgust and fascination. It’s basically a history lesson you probably didn’t get in school, telling the story of integration in America, starting with the civil rights movement and school desegregation and why it didn’t really work before describing the first “suburb” and real estate scams used to control housing prices. I found I knew very little about these topics and learned so much. Most  was hard to hear and so disappointing. There were slow spots in this book, I actually had a lot of trouble getting to the end, but the author weaves in personal stories and keeps things as light as possible and I really appreciated the different angle on these tough topics.

8. The Boston Girl was my pick for book club several months back, we all enjoyed it immensely and it falls into the perfect summer read category. Set in early 1900s, the story follows a young Jewish girl learning how to stay true to her faith and family traditions while living a modern life in an American city. I loved the historical details and ways the main character helps herself dive into the life she wants: a career, friends, love. Her immigrant parents had no idea how their family would be affected by their new surroundings.

I’m currently reading Circling the Sun by the author of another great book, The Paris Wife (Paula McClain), and LOVING it, so that will be on my next What I’m Reading post. What are you reading? I’ll be ready for a new book soon!

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