Book Briefs: Let Summer Reading Begin!

A recent Facebook post by my sister Madeline:

So for the class I’m taking, I have to write a 5-page review of a book! A book review should be 5 sentences, NOT five PAGES!! Bring on the B.S, I suppose…

Earlier this month, she’d posted:

Finished: The End Of Your Life Book Club By Will Schwalbe. I really liked it. Am now reading : Round House by Louise Erdrich – only a chapter or so in and also really like! Not officially summer yet but let the reading begin!!

A blogger I follow, Grandmalin, recently wrote short reviews of books she didn’t care for that much.  Reading her pithy descriptions, I got a good idea about the books.

I’m not a big fan of long book reviews.   A line or two about the plot usually can tell me whether it’s for me. Sometimes I read a book because I’ve read the author before, but that’s no guarantee I’ll like the next book.

Here’s some titles that might interest you:

Tom’s River by Dan Fagin. Science, journalism, history, Cancer clusters, politics. Every New Jersey resident should read this – and anyone concerned about industrial waste and political cover-ups.  (non-fiction)

My Name is Mary Sutter: A Novel by Robin Oliveira. Midwifery & romance in the Civil War, medical history and some graphic descriptions of surgery. Great read.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier.  Set in Oberlin, Ohio, this is a great Civil War story. Another Chevalier triumph. 512Cr4BWluL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

The Seventh Gate by Richard Zimler.  A German girl befriends Jews and other outcasts in pre-war Germany. Strange romance yet compelling.

The Inheritance by Simon Tolkien. Grandson of J.R.R. (Lord of the Rings, etc.). British murder-mystery, secret codes and medieval artifacts. We listened to this on audio- 10 CDs- perfect for the drive to and from Ohio. Terrific story, read by the author.

Yip Harburg: Legendary Lyricist and Human Rights Activist  by Harriet Hyman Alonso.  The guy who gave the world Wizard of Oz, Finian’s Rainbow, and hundreds of songs. Delightful portrait. I read it on my ebook.

Started but dropped:
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini.  Maybe I’d had enough of this time period. Dull.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I’ve read lots of her books and have liked many, though she does seem a bit formulaic. This one, her first one involving a Holocaust survivor and former SS officer in hiding, didn’t work for me.

On the night table:
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid. A birthday present. Told in 2nd person as a self-help book. Intriguing so far. 41lID94fXKL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_

City of Women by David R. Gillham. His debut novel set in wartime Berlin. Recommended by local bookstore.

My iPad mini by Gary Rosenqweig. Picked it up at Costco. Hopefully will help me navigate the device so I do more than read or play Scrabble.

On the ebook:
Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eve LaPlante. What can be bad about a mother/daughter story and the person behind Little Women’s Marmee?  51hwmWAn3GL._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_


Happy Summer Reading! What’s on your list?

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27 Responses to Book Briefs: Let Summer Reading Begin!

  1. Sent this out on Facebook and Twitter. Love reading lists! Sad the Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker title is dull. Elizabeth Keckley lived in our town of Hillsborough, NC and was a seamstress at the girls’ school across the street from me.


  2. Susan says:

    Love this concept! Thank you!


  3. Stella Sormani says:

    Read How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia last month and really liked it. I love the idea of writing it as a self help book!


  4. Okay, so now my bedside table will be groaning beneath the weight of the new books! I just finished “A Train In Winter” by Caroline Moorehead. The true story of 230 French women resisters in WW2 who were rounded up and sent to Auschwitz. Fascinating. I couldn’t put it down.


  5. Great list. I have been re-reading ” Gatsby” and plan to see the movie. I am using Overdrive Media on my new Nokia windows phone. I downloaded and have been listening to Alice Walker’s ” Now is the Time to Open Your Heart.” My new goal is to read more. I tried to get the ” Kite Runner” on my phone but somehow it down loaded as a sample. I also just got the “My Life and Work” by Henry Ford. I am trying not to have to carry a book on the train Let’s see how it works.


  6. Thanks Lisa!! I miss the days when I’d walk into my small book store in Fair Haven, NJ and the owners would greet me by name and recommend books! If I lived in Nashville I’d live at Parnassus 🙂 Big comfy chairs and a piano! But this list is the next best thing.


  7. This is a wonderful blog that could keep us talking until next summer. I am reading “Infidel” by Aayan Hirsi Ali, about a Somalian woman who was raised muslim, underwent female circumcision, and ran away when her father forced her into an arranged marriage. The next book I have is “The Lady and the Peacock,” the story of Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma.


  8. Ugh. I just posted a huge long reply and my computer died. Ugh. Ok. Here goes again:
    First off, I am thrilled to have read all the other posts and to be able to steal from them and add to my own list. Those are A Train In Winter and Infidel. My list;
    Currently I am reading Round House By Louise Erdrich – a novel, Indian Reservation; I love it.
    The Sealed Letter By Emma Donoghue Victorian England affairs and scandal – not sure if I’ll love it but a friend reccommended so I’ll give it a try
    An Invisible Thread by Laura Shroff true story homeles child meets a business exec
    The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner – the reluctant teacher in me Why the Best Schools Can’t teacher
    Day Of Honey by annia Ciezdalo true story love food and war in Baghdad
    i also have Lies My Teacher Told Me – another teaching book but I need to limit my teacher reading so not sure if I’ll crack that spine
    I also have a number of books still piled up from the year and last summer. I’ll get back to all as I get through. Keep the book anthologies coming!


  9. Judy says:

    Love these suggestions. My stack is deep but my next book is A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, about the plague.


  10. Huffygirl says:

    I like your concise reviews Lisa. Based on your recommendations, I just downloaded Kindle samples of The Inheritance and The Seventh Gate.

    I feel a little guilty that I never go to the library anymore. Now, if I hear of a recommended book, I download the Kindle sample and if I like it, buy it. It probably would be more sensible to instead go to the library and borrow it in hard copy, but the convenience of downloading from home has apparently won out.


    • I try to do both and still love browsing in the library– that’s how I tend to read books I’d never consider otherwise. Happy reading! I just got an Iphone so I can read while Matt’s fixing a flat! ha ha..

      On Thu, May 23, 2013 at 9:54 AM, cyclingrandma


  11. In the midst of Indiscretion, by Charles Debow (really good- Young, hip woman becomes enmeshed in the lives of a popular writer and his family, in the Hamptons). Just finished Defending Jacob (thriller, legal drama. 14 yr old boy is accused of murdering a classmate. His father is the DA. Tight legal drama, chilling, and some unexpected twists… a fun, easy read) and really enjoyed it. Not particularly brilliant writing, but good story. A Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes… Story of a middle aged man, who reflects back on his youth when he inherits the journal of a friend who committed suicide, in his youth. Having not thought about the details that lead to that event, he begins to examine his life. Frankly, for all the hoopla, I just didn’t love this one. My husband liked it more. It dragged, and took forever in some places and cut through others too quickly, for me.I’ve got a stack waiting for me… with a busy summer ahead. Always love your lists, Lisa! (sorry for the long response!)


  12. Book Dude says:

    Consider reading a debut novel by Marjan Kamali — Together Tea — that just came out to rave reviews. A warm and wonderful Mother-daughter story that speaks across all cultures. I love it.


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