Shelf Life: Summer 2016


This summer I’ve kept myself busy with our move and work rather than books–isn’t that the definition of sad? Maybe a reason I’ve been so on-edge all summer is that I’m missing my normal routine. I plan to read more as it gets colder (always my MO), but before we dig in to my lackluster list this quarter, check out these flowers. Don’t they just scream “summer in the mountains”?









I found this amazing garden one day while walking Bella and came right back the next day armed with my camera. My neighbors are talented when it comes to keeping things alive in this dry environment. So impressed.

On to the books…

1 The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The story of four adult siblings grappling with their impending inheritance seems like a perfect hot bed for drama and hilarity. Sweeney creates characters that are raw and unfiltered to the point it feels like real life. This book has been all over must-read lists and I liked it for the summer read that it was, but didn’t find it profound or among any of my favorites. Just an easy read that will remind you how different siblings can be despite having the same-ish upbringing.

2. Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre, Tracy Chevalier

Tracy Chevalier is one of my top-five authors of all time, so when I saw she was going to release a collection of stories based on Jane Eyre, I was so excited. Good thing I finally read it! Taking Charlotte’s famous line, authors let their imagination wander from stories of today’s troubled youth to a version of that famous scene told from Rochester’s point of view. Some were so creative, others not so much, but I especially enjoyed Chevalier’s intro…

“Always, always in these stories there is love–whether it is the first spark or the last dying embers–in its many heart-breaking, life-affirming forms. All of these stories have their own memorable lines, their own truths, their own happy or wry or devastating endings, but each is one of the ripples that finds its center in Jane and Charlotte’s decisive clarion call: Reader, I married him.”

3. Jane SteeleLyndsay Faye

Now that I read Jane Eyre, I can’t seem to get enough. This is a sharp reimagining of Jane as a serial killer, a la Dexter. I loved this. Totally fierce and badass, Faye’s Jane is not too far off (minus the killing) from Charlotte’s. If you’re a fan of the original, check this out for sure.

4. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson

After reading Lawson’s second book first, I thought I should probably check this out. But, upon reflection, reading a book about a woman who has constant, crushing anxiety is not the book one should read when getting ready for a big move and feeling her own brand of anxiety. I just couldn’t take someone else’s madness on top of my own, so I was more than happy to finish this and move on. Sorry, Jenny, it’s not you, it’s me.

5. The Girls, Emma Cline

Another from the summer’s must-read list. And another that didn’t impress. What’s wrong with me? Was my summer too stressful to enjoy book like I normally do? Maybe. I usually jump all over the best seller lists and so far I’m still 0 for 2. The story of Evie–a young inductee to a violent cult–is told through both a series of flashbacks and the present day, so you know what’s coming, but there are still many a surprise within its pages. I’d still recommend it, but I’m (obviously) not gushing about it.

6. A Cruel and Shocking Act, Philip Shenon

Just like I didn’t want to read about anxiety while facing my own demons, reading a 540-page book about the birth of the Warren Commission’s report was probably not the best thing to read while I’m authoring my own company’s Annual Report. Ha! I know how to pick ’em! Seriously, though, I love all things Kennedy, and had been meaning to read this tome since it came out. It was interesting to explore the behind-the-scenes investigation and how so many members of the Commission (including its junior lawyers) agreed that Oswald hadn’t acted alone, despite what was published. I also find myself with both feet in the conspiracy camp after reading everything. This might forever be history’s greatest secret, but Shenon’s book places us a few steps closer to the truth and, in true Kennedy-era form, brings up a million new questions. This book is only for the true Kennedy devotees.

7. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

Finally! A book I loved; a book I read in a few hours; a book I’d recommend! This is it — but that shouldn’t be such a surprise to you, knowing how much I love the world of Harry Potter. I thought Rowling and Thorne did an amazing job revisiting our favorite (and not-so-favorite) characters 19 years later. Harry’s now an adult and imperfect father, navigating his role in the spotlight and at home with differing degrees of finesse. It’s amazing how easily I can slip into this world and block out my own. This really was the perfect anecdote to my summer-reading blues. Highly recommend it, as well as anything Rowling touches. (Except The Casual Vacancy, sorry.) Hoping to see this in London with Bobbie.

And hoping for more time to read this Fall.

Next up in the queue:

The Queen of the Night — Alexander Chee (over halfway through this)
The Fate of the Tearling — Erika Johansen (coming end of November now?!)
The Lost Art of Mixing — Erica Bauermeister
Bread and Wine — Shauna Niequist
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn — Betty Smith
Illustrated Edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — J.K. Rowling/Jim Kay
Alexander Hamilton — Ron Chernow
Everyone Behaves Badly — Lesley M. M. Blume


4 thoughts on “Shelf Life: Summer 2016

  1. Always like to see what you are reading.Have read a bunch of books this summrr but favorite is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman. Sad and funny with a plot that makes you want to know what he’s going to try next. His wife died and he thinks he has nothing to live for but new neighbors all of whom he has really funny nicknames for change his life. Laughed and cried!

  2. You’ll be so proud of me — I attended my very first book club a few days ago to discuss HP and the Cursed Child. Would LOVE to see it in London with you but I hear it’s sold out basically forever. 😦

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