My Summer 2016 Reading List

Hello! Summer is officially here and you know what that means right? SUMMER READING! Okay, yes, summer also means deliciously hot days on the beach, barbecuing it up with family and friends, and eating lots of ice cream. But let’s be honest, summer also means that the days are longer, which in my book (ha!) means that there is a LOT more time to read! 

To compile my own summer reading list, I drew titles from my own long “to-read” list as well as book club lists at the local library***.  Enjoy!

  1. imgres-1.jpgThe House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

Surprisingly enough, my interest in this book was sparked by a Netflix veg sash back a few months ago.  After perusing through about a million movies, this particular title caught my eye, and when I saw that it starred my girl, Meryl Streep, circa 1993, I was in.  Set in South America, the film/book tells the story of a young rancher, Esteban, and his psychic wife, Clara.   While I remember finding the movie a little odd (sorry Meryl), I was intrigued enough by the plot to give the book version a try.  I mean, books are ALWAYS better then their film adaptations, so I’m really hoping to enjoy this one!

2. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquezimgres-3.jpg

I am so so looking forward to diving into this book.  It tells the story of the Rivera family, who move to the United States from Mexico to seek care for their teenaged daughter, Maribel, after she suffers a terrible accident. 

3. The Children Act by Ian McEwan

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I found this title on last year’s book club list at my local library, and the title drew me in.  This novel follows Fiona Maye, a successful High Court Judge who throws herself into a complex case after being left by her husband. 

4. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marraimgres-5

This novel is my book club’s selection for July, and I am so looking forward to reading it.  Set in Chechnya, a federal subject of Russia, eight-year-old Havaa bears witness to the kidnapping of her father and the burning of her home at the hands of Russian soldiers.  Havaa’s neighbor, Akhmed, discovers the girl and brings her to an abandoned hospital in the hope that they can seek shelter there.  However the one remaining doctor in the hospital, Sonja Rabina, is not pleased at the prospect of two additional people to care for.  I’m anticipating crying a lot while reading this, basically.

5. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amorusoimgres-6

While I love a good novel, I’m trying to be better about incorporating more nonfiction into my reading, keeping my brain fresh and whatnot.  Anyway, this kickass sounding book, written by the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, gives young women practical, honest, and meaningful advice about finding a passion and doing good work.  A sneak peek of said advice reads, “Don’t ever grow up. Don’t become a bore. Don’t let The Man get to you. OK? Cool. Then let’s do this.” I’m in love already.

6. Looking For Alaska by John Green41r-sKjJ61L

Seeing as I am a brand new English teacher, I thought it would be fun to include a young adult novel on the list.  I loved and hated ( I cry REALLY easily) The Fault in Our Stars, and I’m looking forward to checking out another work by Green.  This one focus on Pudge, a young man who meets the mesmerizing Alaska Young when he enrolls at Culver Creek Boarding School.  Angsty teen romance? Stay tuned.

7. Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Letheimgres-8

This American novel spans three generations to tell the story of Rose Zimmer and her daughter, Miriam.  Both women are passionate activists who wield particular power over the men in their lives.  I am extremely intrigued by this novel, and am deeply curious to see how it reflects and remarks upon our culture.

8. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ngimgres-9

This book has been on my list for awhile now, and a recent conversation with a friend about it inspired me to add it here.  When the daughter of Chinese American family turns up dead in a nearby lake, chaos ensues.  My friend, while as of this writing has not finished this book, is enjoying it so far, and I trust her literary opinions greatly!  I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this one either…I mean, who can pass up a good murder mystery?

imgres9. Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons

This book was first recommended to me by my mentor teacher during my student teaching practicum.  While I never got around to reading the copy she kindly lent me, I am deeply interested in this book and want to tackle it this summer.  As both a woman and a teacher (not to mention possible future mother), I hope to gain some insight as to why girls exhibit infamous “mean girl” bullying behavior, as well as learn how we as a society can help break this pattern for our girls. 

10. The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brownimgres-2

Another work of nonfiction, this book was first mentioned to me by T’s mother if memory serves me correctly.  This gorgeous sounding work tells the story of an American rowing team who defied staggering odds in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin.  While I don’t know much else about this book, it comes highly recommended, and I can’t wait to dive in myself!

Have you read any of these titles? What did you think? What are you all reading? I’d love to hear 🙂 Until next time!

*** Please note, all book summaries were fact-checked on GoodReads, and written in my own words.  All book images were taken from Google Image searches.

Book Talk: Americanah

“Princeton, in the summer, smelled of nothing, and although Ifemelu liked the tranquil greenness of the many trees, the clean streets and stately homes, the delicately overpriced shops, and the quiet, abiding air of earned grace, it was this, the lack of a smell, that most appealed to her, perhaps because the other American cities she knew well had all smelled distinctly.”

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 After reading this initial sentence of  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s gorgeous novel, Americanah, it felt utterly impossible not to lose myself in this intricately woven tale.  To say that I loved this book is a gross understatement; I even got to the point where I would read it while walking to work which, for a klutzy person such as myself, is saying something.  Americanah crosses the boarders of Africa, Europe, and North America to tell the story of Ifemelu and Obinze, young lovers who depart to separate countries from their native Nigeria in order to chase their dreams abroad.  Confident and sharply intelligent Ifemelu travels to the United States to attend college, where she encounters and wrestles with issues of race and what it means to be a person of color for the first time.  Calm and pensive Obinze initially plans on joining Ifemelu, but ultimately winds up oceans away in London, where he leads a treacherous life as an undocumented immigrant.  Their story is one of love, race, and finding the courage to accept your identity.

I seriously cannot praise this novel enough.  Aside from spinning a masterful tale that  leaves you constantly wondering what in the world will happen next, Adichie raises some important questions about what race and our perceptions of each other mean.  This book encouraged me to pause often and consider my own awareness of social issues that are happening here in our Western world, and made me feel like parter of a larger conversation that we as human beings should be having.  I highly, highly, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a novel that honestly discusses race, immigration, and what it means to truly love someone.

What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear!

 

Book Talk: The Secret Life of Bees

Good morning! Today marks my first official day of school vacation (read: intensely needed mental break).  While I had originally planned to sleep in slightly this morning, my body had other ideas.  Needless to say, I’ve been wide awake since 6:20 or so this morning, so I figured I might as well greet the day instead of fighting to stay in bed. I know.

While my plan to do a little bit of nothing isn’t off to the best start, my second school-break plan of getting tons of reading done is going much better.  Just last night I finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

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To dive right in, I loved this book.  Set in mid-1960’s South Carolina, the novel spins the tale of 14-year-old Lily Owens, a young girl living with her harsh and abusive father on their peach farm.  Having lost her mother in a tragic accident ten years prior, Lily’s only true companion is Rosaleen, the fierce and feisty black woman who serves as her nurse and “stand in” mother.

On one fateful day, Rosaleen gravely insults three racist white men in town while trying to register herself to vote for the first time.  Lily spurs into action in order to save her friend and leads them both to Tiburon, South Carolina; the name of a town scrawled on the back of a photograph that once belonged to her mother.  Once there, they are taken in by three eccentric, black, beekeeping sisters named May, June, and August.  Lily is quickly swept into their life of bees, honey, laughter, and wisdom, where she ultimately faces her deepest secret and demon: the memory of her mother.

The Secret Life of Bees is a story of mothers and daughters, the sacred power of women, and the unending power of love.  I devoured this book, and I think every woman (and man) should give it a read.

Up next for me: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.  What are you reading?! Interested in checking out? I’d love to hear all about it!

Until next time- keep reading!