Off the Shelf – Summer Reading

Listen here.

I read every day, 365 days a year, but I especially look forward to my summertime reading because I can read whatever I want. During the school year I read a lot of YA fiction, whatever my book club is reading and whatever else I can squeeze in from my ridiculous tbr shelves. In the summer- no rules, so I thought I would share some books to rev your summer reading engines.

If you want to read a YA novel…and your son or daughter is heading to university in September

roomiesRoomies – Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

My daughter, Mallory, is graduating from high school on Friday and so this book was extra bittersweet for me. It’s the story of two girls, Elizabeth and Lauren, who live on opposite coasts but who are both off to UC Berkley in the fall. Elizabeth lives in a condo with her mom. Her father is long gone and she doesn’t really have any contact with him. Her mom is sort of a serial dater and the two of them are at odds with each other. She’s an only child so she’s really excited when she gets her accommodations placement and discovers she’s going to be rooming with Lauren. Unfortunately, Lauren is the eldest of five and she really, really wants a single room. Roomies is the back and forth email conversation between the two girls and it’s fantastic. We get to watch the friendship blossom between these girls at a time when they are excited and nervous to break free of their families and lives and sort of reinvent themselves and it’s just a beautiful coming of age story.

If you want to travel to Italy…

ruinsBeautiful Ruins – Jess Walter

Everybody was raving about this book when it came out in 2012, but I just read it last week for my book club – shoutout to the girls! So, so good.

This is the story of Pasquale Tursi who, in 1962, has recently returned from Florence to his home town, Porto Vergogna, a place accessible only by boat. He’s back to run the family business – the only business really, a café and hotel called Adequate View. It’s also the story of Dee Mornay, an American actress who is in Italy to work on Cleopatra – the notorious film starring Liz Taylor and Richard Burton – and ends up at the Pasquale’s hotel. And then, flash forward to present day and we meet Michael Deane, this oily Hollywood producer and Claire his disenchanted assistant and this novel beautifully marries past and present and also asks us to consider what is an adequate life? If you haven’t already read this book you really need to move it to the top of your tbr pile.

If you want to travel to Paris

parisParis Letters Janice MacLeod

I just finished this book yesterday – I basically read it in a day. MacLeod is a Canadian who was working for an ad agency in L.A. and she was just tired of it. Basically, she was writing junk mail advertising and, at 34, she just didn’t want to do it anymore. What she wanted to be was an artist and this book is all about how she made that happen for herself. She basically scrimped and saved enough money so that she could take a whole year off and travel – which she loved to do. So Paris Letters is the story of how she rediscovered herself, shed all the crap that doesn’t matter and moved to Paris and not only did she tap into this more authentic version of herself (without all the hokey self-help stuff, honest) she also fell in love with a Polish butcher.

If you are looking for a reading challenge, or people to read with

goldfinchYou should join Karen Vickers’ Facebook book club. Last year she encouraged people to read Eliot’s Middlemarch and this year we’re tackling The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This is Tartt’s third novel, it won the Pulitzer, it’s over 700 pages long…but I can guarantee that it’s going to be awesome because Tartt is amazing. The group is secret on FB, but I will put instructions on how to hook up with us on my blog and I hope you’ll join in the fun.

Visit my Facebook page and leave your name in the comments section of the Goldfinch post and I’ll make sure your name is added to the list.

Still looking for suggestions? Here’s a list of ten of my favourite (not too strenuous) reads:

lanternThe Lantern – Deborah Lawrenson

in the woodsIn the Woods – Tana French

dark-places-book-coverDark Places – Gillian Flynn

pettigreMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simonson

one-dayOne Day – David Nicholls

the_book_of_lost_thingsThe Book of Lost Things – John Connolly

instrumentsInstruments of the Night – Thomas H. Cook

standingStanding Still – Kelly Simmons

heartshapedHeart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

fingerFingersmith – Sarah Waters

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