My Summer Reads

It’s been a pretty good summer for reading. Backpacking and camping trips gave me extra time to read, and I worked less than normal in June and July. Also, when I lead retreats, I go to bed early and read. It’s how this introvert recharges.

I read for pleasure, I read to be a better writer, I read to learn, I read because to me it’s one of the best things about being alive – and it certainly keeps me sane.

Here are my favorite reads of the summer. Most of these are lighter fare as that what my mood has needed.

The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

A western told from the perspective of a young boy. I particularly loved the voice of this novel, the oddball characters, and the poignancy of the ending. Devoured.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan both by Lisa See

I had never read See’s work, although I was a big fan of her late mother’s writing especially her novel Golden Days. What made me read two of her books in one month was how much I enjoyed learning about Chinese history in two different and specific ways. Also, watching her become a more confident and engaging writer was inspiring (Tea Girl is her latest book).

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Another great Western. The what if setup is intriguing and the adventure is absorbing even as you know things are not going to end well. My only quibble was the main character, May Dodd, doesn’t have much of an inner struggle and was a bit too confident at times.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

Our library has a service “Your Lucky Day” where new and popular books are available first come first serve. I love it when I discover something I wouldn’t usually read on this shelf. I very much enjoyed the world of chamber music and the extreme discipline and extraordinary talent this craft demands. I became weary of the four character’s self-imposed angst and thought the middle dragged a bit, but otherwise, it was excellent and reminded me of The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

A Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Thriller based loosely on the Hitchcock film Rear Window. Inventive twists, one big enough to make me gasp, but in the end, it lacked the depth I crave in my reading. Great for a plane ride.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Worth reading for the last ten pages. This book will stick with me.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I know Ms. Hannah lightly as we lived on the same island, and I am blown away by her work ethic and generous spirit. This book, however, left me underwhelmed. I found myself scanning pages of repetitive prose and information dumps of dialogue. I did find the ending believable and enjoyed how the main character struggled with her misbeliefs.

Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney

I’m only halfway through this book, but I want to finish writing this so I can go read more! A female explorer obsessed with the far North, exquisite writing, effective structure. Loving this so far.

Hope you’ve had a fantastic reading summer (or winter!) and you get more time to read in August!

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