Thursday, June 3, 2010

Summer Reading

Yeah, yeah, I know summer doesn't "officially" begin until June 21, but I consider Memorial Day Weekend the unofficial start of summer -- and no time like the present to start stocking up on summer reading material. (FYI: By "summer reading" I mean books that can easily be read in one or two -- or, if you have young children, six or 10 -- leisurely sessions on a beach or by a pool, in a hammock, or under a tree.)

While I have provided lists of some (make that many) of my favorite books already on the blog, in my "Book Nook" posts (click the link to see a list of all my book-related posts and readers' comments), I have some more books to add to the list, including these recent reads (listed in the order I read them), all of which you should be able to breeze through in the shade of an umbrella or tree:

52 Loaves
by William Alexander ("One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust")

Luncheon of the Boating Party
by Susan Vreeland (The story of how Pierre-Auguste Renoir came to paint his famous painting and the people featured. A MUST READ for those who love Impressionism, all things French, or a beautifully crafted story.)

Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland (More historical fiction, this time about Louis XIV's first mistress, Louise La Valliere.)

Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn (A well written modern day tale of a thirtysomething writer looking for love in NYC. Some may call this "chick lit." I found it a great, fast, poignant read -- perfect for summertime.)

Moonlight in Odessa by Janet Skeslien Charles (If Carrie, a much younger Carrie, from Sex and the City lived in Odessa, Ukraine, sort of, complete with a Mr. Big and a trip to an exotic land. A fascinating read, especially for anyone who has spent time in the former Soviet Union and/or who ever felt trapped and conflicted.)

I also highly recommend:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt

Beach Music
by Pat Conroy

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel

by Jeffrey Eugenides

Anything by Carrie Fisher

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man
by Fannie Flagg

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Le Divorce
by Diane Johnson

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith

Note: To learn more about any of these books, just click on the link (to

Have any favorite summer reads you'd like to recommend/share with the group? Let me know via the Comments.


Betty Cracker said...

Since you haven't confined your list to new stuff, I wholeheartedly recommend A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Best book I've read in the last 10 years.

Anonymous said...

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine.

Anonymous said...

I also recommend John Berendt's book about Venice, The City of Falling Angels.

But I thought the 3 Weissman's of Westport was a waste of time and money.

Sandra Gulland said...

I'm so pleased you listed Mistress of the Sun ... Thank you!


J. said...

@Betty, I will DEFINITELY check out A Fine Balance. Thanks for the recommendation!

@Anonymous #2, I have also added The City of Falling Angels to my list.

@Sandra Gulland: You are welcome! Mistress of the Sun is a great book -- and I loved the descriptions of the countryside just outside Paris (especially having revisited Versailles last November).

Also, I have two more books to add to my "recommended summer reading list": Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean (think Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen), which I finished last night, and a friend just recommended The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, which she's dropping off as soon as she's done reading it. (Can't wait! Sounds excellent.)