Summer Reads

sunny

I’ve been reading more lately; Matt’s been out of town visiting his family in Africa. I’m long since out of the habit of watching television. Also, I’ve needed an entertaining distraction from the realities of too much NPR. (The polar bears are drowning. The gulf is slick. Obama won’t be re-elected. Iran hates us. We hate Iran. North Korea hates us. North Korea is starving to death. We hate North Korea. Mexico is now officially being run by the cartels. ) You get the very sad point.

So, to the library/bookshelf/bookstore I go! Regularly. I need a break from Michele Norris* or I’m afraid I may start suggesting feeding the polar bears to starving North Koreans and shipping our cocaine habits feeding the Mexican cartels to Iran.  (See? Books are a much better idea.)

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The Lonely Polygamist: This is my favorite book of the summer so far. Four out of five bananas. For those who read The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint, you’ll see some similar themes. Both books include strong young male characters who are a fair mix of hilarious, precious and pathetic. Both books are set in the desert Southwest and both include LDS families. Brady Udall is fast becoming my favorite author. I love the voice of his characters, the way he is so carefully entwines important issues into otherwise bizarre and funny stories — so you feel like you learned something — and his wit. He is a very clever writer.

The Long Goodbye: This book is my first adventure with author Raymond Chandler. His word choice and settings are delightfully antiquated today. This story details a private investigator’s search for a killer, of sorts. It is twisted and well thought. It was a bit long in places and didn’t keep me so interested I couldn’t wait to get back to it. Three out of five bananas.

The Double Bind: This is the third Chris Bohjalian book I’ve read — after Midwives and The Law of Similars. I loved both of those stories. They were well written, kept me dying for quiet time to read more and again, taught me about subjects I knew nothing about without feeling like I’d received a lecture. The Double Bind is also a good read, but the ending was a sucker punch. It hurt.

Honestly, it made me a little angry too.

I wanted to start over from the beginning;  I was so confused and torn.  I do recommend the novel because I’ve never before read something and had such a strong reaction to the conclusion. Plus, for Great Gatsby lovers, this book is a treat. Three out of five bananas.

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Blood of Flowers: I may have blogged about this read already — it was a quick in-between-book-club-assignments-read. I appreciated the setting — Iran, centuries ago. The main character becomes an apprentice and learns to weave rugs. The story is interesting and it certainly has great villains. I enjoyed this as light, fun reading. Three of five bananas.

The Elegant Hedgehog: Did I already write about this? I fear I did. It is still considered a summer read because the tattered copy is on my nightstand. This book is far too smart for my tastes. It is a quirky story, but the characters don’t bloom until page 200 of a 300 page novel. It was a book club selection and I am not interested in reading more from this author. 1.5 bananas.

People of the Book: This is the latest selection for my book club and I have to say — one of the most intellectually stimulating books I’ve ever read. It is fascinating. The story discusses the adventures of a woman chasing down clues to an ancient haggadah that has reappeared after the war in Sarajevo. The story flows between centuries, faiths, languages, cultures and politics. I can only imagine how much time it took the author to research. It was in ways like reading an exceptionally smart version of The DiVinci Code. I truly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, March.

I’ve just started In the Woods and it looks like it has potential. Plus, it’s set in Ireland, one of my most favorite places.

What are you reading and enjoying this summer?

-K

* Tell me you NPR listeners don’t crave the day that someone will finally say to that smug Michele Norris — “JUST SAY MICHELLE ALREADY. KNOCK OF THE MEEEEESHELL.” Or is it just me?