Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Great Summer Reads

Summertime is filled with so many activities in my household. Despite work on days off I leave my home early in the morning and drive to a state park to spend the day at the lake. There is a huge musical festival in my area that my friends live and breath. The long nights out (4 AM?) have only just begun and hopefully there will be a trip to the beach. But despite the business I still find myself lounging around, not really interested in doing anything but being stationary, and that's when I turn to books.

I figured since summer is more or less here I would compile a list of great books to read this summer (or any summer for that matter!) One's that help pass by those warm lazy afternoon hours and books that are centered around summer. I've chosen the top ten books that I've enjoyed in summers past.

  1. Stardust Stardust by Neil Gaiman is a wonderful book. A fairy tale aimed for adults yet reaching out to the child in all of us. Follow Tristran Thorn as he tries to win the heart of Victoria. In an effort to keep his promise to her, ensuring her love for him, he ventures off into unexplored lands to capture a fallen star which has fallen beyond his towns edge in the land of Faerie. Little does he realize the true  escapade that he will face. With Neil Gaiman's general sly humor and his attention to detail you'll fall in love with this book and surely be lost in Faerie alongside Tristran. Take this book with you to the beach or a day at the park and you won't regret the fantasy of it all. 
  2. THE SECRET LIFE OF BEESThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is where you can find a list of characters who will be able to relate to the hot sticky summer weather that you are probably experiencing. Set in South Carolina during the year 1964 you'll meet the child Lily Owens who escapes, with her tough as nails and protective nanny of sorts (Rosaleen), her small racist town. After leaving the town they head to Tiburon, South Carolina which is one of the few clues Lily has to her mother who died when she was extremely young. Once there she finds family in unexpected places and learns many things from honey to the Black Madonna. This novel is a wonderful read for mothers and daughters and also brings forth the strength of female power. (A personal review can be found if you click on the title!)
  3. Under the Tuscan Sun Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes is great for all of you foodies out there, not to mention the die hard travelers. Frances Mayes opens her doors and invites us in to her beautiful life in the Tuscan countryside. With luxurious language she brings forth the simplest of moments in Italy to the more elaborate ones. She also includes fantastic tips and recipes for you to try out on your own. While most people have the travel bug during the summer this might just add to that urge and make you want to hop a plane to Tuscany as soon as possible. 
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Trust me on this one, despite that you might see this on a required reading list for school- it doesn't mean the book is horrible. In fact, it's fantastic. Most books that have been banned from school systems generally are fantastic. The spunky little girl Scout is entering a point in life where suddenly her older brother is too 'old' to play with her like he used to, she is beginning to be expected to behave like a lady, and the ignorance of childhood is beginning to wear off. When an African American man is charged with raping a white woman the town is active with whispers of racist opinions and otherwise. Scouts father, the lawyer representing the young African American man, is pulled into the mix of the political and racist tendencies of the deep south in the early 1900's. 
  5. Tuck Everlasting Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit captures the innocence and imagination of childhood in this wonderful children's (or young adult) book. Winnie Foster, a curious child who wishes she could be freed from her constricting life, stumbles upon the Tuck family's biggest secret. A small spring by a tree which gives eternal life. Winnie isn't the only one who knows of the Tuck's secret though, a mysterious man wishes to find the water and market it. With the help of Winnie the Tuck family works to stop the man and also keep their secret. I adored this book all of my childhood and still read it for enjoyment even today.
  6. Atonement Atonement by Ian McEwan is beautifully written with elaborate language and scenery. It begins with a summer day, in the year of 1939, when the imaginative thirteen-year-old Briony witnesses a private moment between her older sister Cecilia and Robbie (who is just as much of a sibling as Cecilia, but the daughter of a servant). With the confusion of summer heat, the missing of a child, Briony stumbling upon another moment, crimes are committed that will effect the lives of Briony's family until their death. With the uproar of World War II and the secrets of a family Atonement sucks you in and keeps a hold on you until the last page. Even afterwards, it will haunt you.
  7. Chocolat   Chocolat by Joanne Harris is an indulgence read. It's best to forewarn you, buy a bag of chocolates. Better yet, go to a chocolate shop and select an assortment of chocolates, nestled into a little box with wax paper, then prepare yourself for a lovely read. Vianne Rocher seems to appear out of no where, on the wind, in the town of Lansquenet with her daughter. Her secret, soon revealed, is the sweet or bitter chocolates she makes for the people of the town. These wonderful chocolates seem to work magic on the people. Their problems are suddenly easy to fix, they find happiness much easier then before, but when Easter Sunday approaches and Vianne plans a huge festival she is almost kicked out of the town by the local priest. Throw in the mysterious and sexy Roux and you're in for a delicious read. Just remember to have those chocolates nearby because the book with leave you wanting some!
  8. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia   Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is great for the person who wants to travel during this summer. Whether it's a car trip or sitting on the beach, take this biography of sorts with you. And with Julia Roberts staring in the movie adaptation of this book THIS summer, there is even more reason to read the book! Elizabeth Gilbert chose, after suffering through an upsetting divorce, to travel to three countries: Italy, India, and Indonesia. She experiences a life change, a realization of the joy she has within herself, and the beauty of the world. Most importantly she learns how to eat, how to pray, and how to love once more. 
  9. The Last Summer (of You and Me)  The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares joins the ranks of 'good summer reads' since 1) it has summer in the title, 2) it is about the summer 3) the majority of the story takes place at the beach. Meet the two sisters, Riley and Alice, who are now in their twenties but joyfully spending another summer at their parents beach house. Paul is their friend, who also lives near their summer house, and returns to the beach after a three year absence. The joys of summer, sometimes a few upsets, were nothing compared to this new change which threatens to tear the threesome apart, or bring them closer together. Suddenly, the wonders of the beach has no power over the real life issues that they are facing. 
  10. Howl's Moving Castle Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones throws you into the strange world of Ingary, where witches bewitch people and wizards live in castles that move across the land. When Sophie, a young woman who lives at home tending her fathers shop, angers the infamous Witch of the Waste she is turned into an old woman. Despite her brittle body Sophie travels to find the wizard Howl in hopes that she will gain her youth back. Suddenly this stay-at-home girl is thrown into an adventure filled with fantasy that she never expected to experience.


  1. I've never read any Gaiman but I'd like to start with Stardust! Also, I've got Howl's Moving Castle on my shelf to read soon. Yay!

  2. Stardust is wonderful as is Howl's Moving Castle... although my favorite of the two is definitely Stardust!


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