Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." ~ P.J. O'Rourke

Last year I offered up my own summer reading list.  Now is the time for true confessions - I read exactly one of the books on that list - The Age of Miracles - and I loved it.  I own a couple of the others, either in print form, or on my ipad - they sit there waiting for me.  Why have I not gotten to them?  One of the reasons is something that I've written about before.  I don't often purchase books anymore - someone either loans or passes on their copy to me, or I use my local library.  Since the ones borrowed from the library (and sometimes from friends) have a due date - they tend to get read first.  Truthfully though, I have been on a bit of a reading hiatus.  This happens to me every now and again, and usually when my life is full of other things going on.  That is certainly the case right now.  I find that I am checking out more audio books than ever before because I can knit, set up my new studio space, drive and cook, all while listening to a story that I might have otherwise sat down to read.  I'm not like my good friend Judy, who can read a book and knit at the same time! For example, today I am swinging by the library to up the audio recording of Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child, all 25+ hours of it!  I think that will cover me for awhile.  I have also put a request in for And the Mountains Echoed, the newest by Khaled Hosseini.  That one's going to be awhile - there's a fairly long list of other people ahead of me.

Still, I love to look though those recommended summer reading lists and parse out those that seem to interest me the most.  So here is MY list for summer 2013 (in no particular order - and with links at the bottom to other lists for you to look at).  All cover photos are from, and all summaries are from  My apologies to those of you reading this via e-mail.  Whenever I line things up side by side in my blog, it seems to be all over the place in the e-mail.  If that's the case, please click here!  

Here's hoping that I get to more than one of them!

"It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country."

"It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.
An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz."

"Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.
This is a new era for women, and New York is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. Yet prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood. When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high-stakes world. And soon her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover."

"A brilliantly imaginative and poignant fairy tale from the modern master of wonder and terror,The Ocean at the End of the Lane is Neil Gaiman's first new novel for adults since his #1 New York Times bestseller Anansi Boys.
This bewitching and harrowing tale of mystery and survival, and memory and magic, makes the impossible all too real…"
"Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page."

"The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge."

"Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak.
That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.
Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily's friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction...and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations.
Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever."
"Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais’s school uniform is covered in blood.

Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.

Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon – they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. When she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents though, Anais knows her fate: she is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.
Named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement and the Scotsman,The Panopticon is an astonishingly haunting, remarkable debut novel. In language dazzling, energetic and pure, it introduces us to a heartbreaking young heroine and an incredibly assured and outstanding new voice in fiction."
"When Lucy Lovett’s husband loses his job, she is forced to give up her posh life in London and move their family to a tiny apartment in Manhattan, where her husband has managed to secure a lowly position. Lucy finds herself living in the center of cool and hip. Across from their apartment is a trendy bar called PDT—whenever Lucy passes by, she thinks, Please Don’t Tell anyone I’m a middle-aged woman.

Homesick and resentful at first, Lucy soon embarks on the love affair of her life—no, not with her husband (though they’re both immensely relieved to discover they do love each other for richer or poorer), but with New York City and the three women who befriend her.

There’s Julia, who is basically branded with a Scarlet A when she leaves her husband and kids for a mini nervous breakdown and a room of her own; Christy, a much older man’s trophy wife, who is a bit adrift as only those who live high up in penthouses can be; and disheveled and harried Robyn, constantly compensating for her husband, who can’t seem to make the transition from wunderkind to adult.

Spot-on observant, laugh-out-loud funny, yet laced with kindness through and through, No One Could Have Guessed the Weather 
is a story of what happens when you grow up and realize the middle part of 
your story might just be your beginning."

"Christmas is approaching, and in Québec it’s a time of dazzling snowfalls, bright lights, and gatherings with friends in front of blazing hearths. But shadows are falling on the usually festive season for Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. Most of his best agents have left the Homicide Department, his old friend and lieutenant Jean-Guy Beauvoir hasn’t spoken to him in months, and hostile forces are lining up against him. When Gamache receives a message from Myrna Landers that a longtime friend has failed to arrive for Christmas in the village of Three Pines, he welcomes the chance to get away from the city. Mystified by Myrna's reluctance to reveal her friend's name, Gamache soon discovers the missing woman was once one of the most famous people not just in North America, but in the world, and now goes unrecognized by virtually everyone except the mad, brilliant poet Ruth Zardo.
As events come to a head, Gamache is drawn ever deeper into the world of Three Pines. Increasingly, he is not only investigating the disappearance of Myrna’s friend but also seeking a safe place for himself and his still-loyal colleagues. Is there peace to be found even in Three Pines, and at what cost to Gamache and the people he holds dear?"

Other Reading List LInks:

CNN What to Read This Summer
Paste Magazine 20 New Books To Read This Summer
NPR Critics' List
Amazon Summer Reading For All Ages
Summer Book List: 2013 Beach Books
Slate Magazine: Summer 2013
Refinery29: Our Favorite Books You've Got To Read
Chatelaine's Best Ever Summer Reads
Oprah's 2013 Summer Reads
Sweet Summer Reads


  1. The new Neil Gaiman is definitely on my list, too! This beautiful title... Ah, and I didn't know that Hosseini had a new one! Thank you for this list, Tracy!

    PS: reading AND knitting!? Wow!

    1. You are welcome Nancy. My friend Judy is quite multi-talented, so I'm not surprised that she can knit and read at the same time!

  2. I want to be like Judy, but in the meantime, I'll definitely add at least The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls to my list! Of course, just reading the summaries satisfies me! Thanks for the promising list.

  3. I love your quote! Thank you so much for excellent recommendations! Only Hosseini was already on my list and like you I prefer audio books so that I can knit at the same time!

  4. Haa, well I am glad I am not the only one not reading stacks of books. Although I am inhaling cookbooks like bon-bons. I loved Dearie. Really I need audio books, I am too busy to read xox Clarice

  5. Thanks for the suggestions! I'm reading through a couple of cookbooks at the moment but may have to put the Yonahlossee book at the top of my list. Though it used to be a camp, Yonahlossee is now more of a resort but is quite lovely. A beautiful area, for sure!

    1. Interesting - my book group has decided that our next pick (Aug.) will be the cookbook of our choice. I haven't decided on one yet - Do you have any suggestions?