A summer of books

Bookcase photo

Confession time.

I might have a reading problem.

See, I spent the summer looking for a job. Well, most of the time I did, because, let’s face it, job hunting can be a challenge to even the strongest of hearts and minds. There were a few moments of doing contract work, and even the occasional consulting gig thrown in there, and I’ve also been able to indulge in swimming workouts and long walks with the pooch.

I’ve even enjoyed a few binge TV-on DVD/DVR/Netflix episodes. Birchwood is my next one. Seriously, how does anyone keep up with all this cool TV?

PS, if you’re wondering, I’ve not secured that job yet, but there are a few possibilities that I’m not allowed to talk about, because, well, that’s just asking for trouble. Not to mention it’s bad form. But any good vibes you want to send my way, I’ll take ’em!

Anyway, I have read a lot of books this summer, probably more than is normal, but hey, if I’m gonna be a weirdo, this is an ok way to do it.

I thought those of you out there who enjoy reading might also enjoy some recommendations. So here you go.

If you want to be freaked out

…try Apocalypse Island by Mark Edward Hall.  The scariest part of this book is the casual way the author treats the presence of the supernatural in the early parts of the book. Shiver. Later pages get a little overdone, but it’s still fast and fun thriller, and apparently part 1 of a series.

If you want a little massage of your word-loving soul

Life of Pi by Yann Martel.  I’m totally late to the party on this book, but jeez. It’s absolutely stunning; I don’t think I’ve encountered an author recently with such a gift for painting pictures with his words. I most enjoyed the early chapters, where we meet religious-omnivore Pi Patel in his home life, before he’s marooned at sea with a tiger named Richard Parker.  I will be buying this book (after borrowing it from my handy-dandy e-library) because I want to know that I have it in my bookcase.

For your Zombie fix

World War Z by Max Brooks. Actually, I liked the movie a little better than the book, but I think that’s because the book is probably best experienced read aloud as an audio book. But it’s enough to make those of us with an active imagination start to view our suburban ‘hoods from a survivalist point of view (my neighbor three houses down has the most defensible position and probably the most food on the block), and to make me really, really ready for the next season of The Walking Dead.

If you want a Hemingway book not written by Hemingway

…check out The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain. It’s a fictionalized version of the story of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. I picked it up because I’m jonesing for Paris, but it actually traverses a lot of territory. Hadley as a character is confusing at times – is she fiercely independent and free-spirited, or just the opposite? – but it’s compelling and almost made me want to read A Moveable Feast, Hemingway’s memoirs of the same time. Almost.

For art lovers…and women…and lovers of women and art

I enjoyed The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, a fictionalized tale of artist Emily Carr, who blazed trails for women artists in the early 20th century with her bold, unconventional paintings of rural British Columbia and its vanishing indigenous culture. I loved this tale of a woman who chafes at the boundaries of society, religion, family and love. Plus, it had some lovely Parisian scenes (I’m sensing a theme here) and made me want to visit BC as soon as I possibly can. And by the way; this is NOT a romance novel, although the title might make it seem so.

If you like hiking but don’t feel like strapping on a pack just yet

…I have two books for you.  The first is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, the memoir of a broken woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (did you know there was a Pacific Crest Trail?  I didn’t.), because, well, she’s full of sadness and unafraid of her general cluelessness. As I read the book, I couldn’t really relate to her life, but nonetheless I found myself rooting for her, crying for her as she tried to work out her demons in the woods and mountains of California and Oregon, and cheering for her as she conquers various obstacles.

The second is A Walk in the Woods by the venerable Bill Bryson. I have had a few Bryson books kicking around my house since he spoke here a few years back, and full confession; I’ve had a devilishly hard time reading them. They don’t grab me, generally, but this one did. It’s funny, and full of interesting and thoroughly depressing facts about how we humans have screwed up our forests. It brought me back to places I’ve visited recently – Gatlingburg and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – and places that I used to call home – The White Mountains and the woods of Maine. The ending is not what I expected, but I loved it. Just as Bryson loved the awful site of a parking lot on top of Mt. Washington. You’ve gotta be just a little weird to like such things. I guess Bill and I share that trait.

So there you have it, campers. I also read some really bad vampire stories, a few trashy romance novels, and I started to read Lean In but couldn’t quite get excited by it.  Oh, and I forgot about Tumbleweeds by Leila Meacham, a sort of dysfunctional love-triangle story/mystery that wasn’t my usual style, but was worth the time.  I’ve just recently discovered that I bought Reading Lolita in Tehran about a year ago and haven’t read it yet, so I’m off to do just that.

Happy reading!

photo credit: Ozyman via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “A summer of books

  1. Ok, here’s a confession if my own. We should be better/closer/stronger friends because I just “get you.”

    But then there’s the strong likelihood that you will move away with a new fancy job and then I’ll be all heartbroken and stuff.

    But seriously. Great reading list. I’m currently reading Wild, finished The Paris Wife this summer, loved World War Z (the movie) as well as The Life of Pi (movies version as well) and am keeping my own bloggy book list over at Mindless Wanderings.

    Plus, we have the same name, are probably equally crappy golfers (this is a theory we MUST test before you move on with your high falutin’ job!)

    In short, I remain, an admirer,


    1. Aw, Jody, I’m not sure I could ask for a better comment. I love your blog booklist – that is a great idea that I might steal. You need to read Life of Pi…it’s just stunning and a very interesting take on religion and faith, too.

      And for the record, I don’t have that swanky job yet, so let’s make that golf date, because I too, suck at golf but love to play.

      And the admiration is decidedly mutual. Although I might lose you with my next post about being a single, childless, spinster aunt. 🙂

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