Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Reading

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." -- Stephen King

Happy Monday! How was your Fourth of July? We celebrated Independence Day by heading for the mountains and finding freedom from television (no TV set!), the Internet (no connection!), and our phones (very sketchy signal!). This left us quite behind on Tour de France coverage, but well caught up on our summer reading.  

So how thrilled was I to return to civilization and find I'm the lucky recipient of On Grace  thanks to the lovely Elizabeth of Pretty Pink Tulips? Elizabeth is friends with the book's author, Susie Orman Schnall, who spins a tale about friendship, betrayal and life after 40 with "themes that will resonate with any woman who owns at least one pair of Spanx."  Sounds good to me - I can't wait to dive in!

Need a new read to lose yourself in as summer unwinds one lazy day at time? Here are a few other books I've enjoy so far:

Last winter when I stayed with my mother while my dad recovered in a nursing home from a sudden illness, I was deeply touched Jessica Soffer's recollection of the loss of her own father and her efforts to remove his sculptures from a New York City rooftop as recounted in Vogue.

Her words provided moments of peace and healing, like talking to a friend who understood exactly what I was going through. So I immediately pre-ordered her debut novel, Tomorrow there will be Apricots. Months later the title appeared on my Kindle screen but I didn't know how much the story of a troubled young girl and lonely older woman would engage me, especially as I sat poolside at a resort in Mexico. Turns out I drank it in faster than the steady stream of margaritas that were delivered regularly to my lounge chair. Jessica Soffer writes so eloquently of grief, love and unexpected connections, you can't help but fall for her two heroines. It's a beautiful book.

Are you longing to lose yourself wandering the streets of Paris but have no plans to visit the City of Light this summer? The next best thing is getting lost in the pages of Lessons in French by Hilary Reyl. This coming of age in Paris story is as engaging as they come and paints a beautiful portrait of the charms of the city and the fascinating characters who live there, all while posing interesting questions about family and fame, the boundaries we set with others, and how much of ourselves we should give.

Pining for Downton Abbey and still not able to accept the deaths of Lady Sybil and Cousin Matthew? The Ashford Affair by Lauren Willig will cheer you right up. Part Downton, with a healthy dose of summer Rom-com and a bit Out of Africa mixed in. The story bounces between past and present, from a stately English manor to a Manhattan law firm, telling the intertwined tales of Addie, Bea and Clementine, who unravels a family mystery while finding love where she least expects it. 

Okay, I can't say I enjoyed spending time with Nora Eldridge, the self-proclaimed woman upstairs from Claire Messud's novel of the same name. In fact, the book has created a bit of an Internet kerfuffle about whether (female) characters need to be likable. (Have we already forgotten last summer's beyond unlikable Amy Dunne?)  Whether or not you like Nora or the book, you'll definitely come away with all sorts of fodder for discussion about leaning in -- or out, having it all, creativity versus responsibility, and the sacrifices demanded by lives lived both large and small. Which makes me really glad this is my Book Club's title for the month of July.

Next up on my Kindle queue?

I think I'll need a few more long, disconnected, holiday weekends to get through them all! You can never have too many good reads lined up during the summer months, don't you think?
So tell me, what's on your night stand or in you Kindle queue these days? What was the last book you couldn't put down?

Happy reading!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful peaceful and relaxing 4th...glad you got to get away. Thanks for this wonderful book list, I have only read one Tomorrow there will be apricots and have to say I really enjoyed it (part of the book club). It was more emotional than I expected but a wonderful story (and love that food played a big role lol). I will look into the others, another book I just started reading is Pain, parties work (story of Sylvia Plath) so far I am loving it! Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

    1. Happy Monday, Tina. The Sylvia Plath book wasn't on my radar, but sounds fantastic - I love that it includes drawings and photos. Sounds like one that I need in actual book form, not just on Kindle. Hope you have a lovely week. XO

  2. Thanks for the tips on some very interesting books. I definitely will be ordering 'Tomorrow there will be Apricots'.

    I've been trying to read a lot of the classics lately and just finished Crime and Punishment. It took me a long time to read this book (over a year) and it's absolutely riveting. I felt that I was a character in the book and watching all of the action. I've never been so consumed by a novel!
    Nice blog you have here - I'll be a new subscriber.

    1. Hi Robyn. Thanks for stopping by and for following along.

      Good for you for finishing Crime and Punishment! I've read many of the classics as an English Lit major but haven't read much Doystoevsky. So many books, so little time, right?

  3. What a wonderful list of reads. How nice to take the time to unplug and have the time to get lost in a novel...

  4. Jeanne,
    So happy you were able to get away and unplug!!!

    Love your reading list and hope you enjoy the one I'm sending your way! I am currently reading Yonhalossee Riding Camp....and really liking it. I love the time period, 1930s, in which it is setl A favorite book I just finished was A Hundred Summers. I am writing these down, as I seem to be reading more books this summer than in recent years. Loving it!!

    xoxo Elizabeth

  5. Hi Jeanne,
    Thank you so much for featuring On Grace! I am so happy Elizabeth featured it on Pretty Pink Tulips and that you won! I hope you enjoy the story. I have been getting great feedback from women who say that they were really able to identify and that they either are Grace (the main character) or know her.

    As for what I'm reading... The Language of Flowers (I'm half way through; beautiful). I recently read and loved Heft and A Hundred Summers. Next up Yonahlossee Riding Camp and The Aviator's Wife. You can see that Elizabeth and I share book tips! Thanks again and enjoy On Grace!

  6. Thank you for all the recommendations Jeanne I've just ordered a few and On Grace is one of them. I'm reading "Ladies Night" by Mary Kay Andrews recommended by another blogger, sorry literally just started it an hour ago. Seems all my summer reading is coming from blog recommendations for which I’m thrilled! I love getting lost in books.


  7. Jeanne thank you for all of these great recommendations. I have recently read The Invisible Thread, The Language of Flowers, The Aviators Wife.......Sorry I have been so remiss

    2013 Artists Series

  8. Thanks for cluing us in on the must read list....I guess I got to get busy!

  9. loved reading your eloquently written reviews! i only read fiction on vacation so it's all design books, self-help stuff, and spiritual guidance for me. just finished 'turn my mourning into dancing' by henri nouwen, a hero of mine.

    sending hopeful thoughts for you and your folks.


  10. This is a great book list, Jeanne. They all look like something I could get lost in.
    Happy Tuesday.

  11. So glad you could find some serenity Jeanne. I am also a big fan of unplugging - more and more these days - the more connected I am, the more I wish for simplicity. And your timing is perfect as I am working on loading up my kindle for our mega-flights coming up soon...I usually prefer a good old fashioned book but nothing beats having many books all in one slim, lightweight device on a long trip. Enjoy this sunshine!

  12. Lessons in French sounds like my kind of read - thanks for the introduction!



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