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Do Your Part, People. Summer is Coming…

Okay, confession.

I have read the first 50 pages of three books in the last few weeks and like an annoying fly, I can’t seem to land for long (Ahem, Tinkers). My reading selections, for the moment, have seemed to come unhinged. As I dabbled in my new titles, I realized I was deciding whether to read them, rather than actually reading them. It seemed silly.

I imagined that this may be because the new titles were dumbed down for summer and nothing was inspiring. (I have conversations with myself: Is Ann Patchett, Anna Quindlen and Annie Lamott really just the same person? Why do they have so many books out?) Or maybe it is the-every-day-is-a-party-or-major-event-in-the-4-weeks-before-school-ends. (good lord.)

But stay calm, people. I have a grip on the whole thing now. Kind of.

See, at the start of the year, I put together a plan. I poured over the January ‘best of’ lists, did my research, teed them up and let ‘er rip. I guess I was nervous about having a book blog and not choosing wisely, reading bad stuff and then falling behind in my posts and…Well, damn. Here I am.

The pre-selected list is not my usual M.O. I love a well organized to do list, but in my reading? That seems tedious. I’m prone to impulsiveness and the list could be shackles.

Well, I’m turning in my freedom. Because I am not afraid to say I’m adrift. And though I may loathe to plan, the list worked. I read some terrific stuff.

I have my first title.
But I need five more.

Can you share with me your must-read for summer? A review that caught your eye, a book you have always meant to read, a title you just devoured?

You may not hit with me a laundry list of titles.That’s toooooo easy. I am looking for near-perfection, unbelievable, single biggest, not to be missed book for this summer.

I’m making big plans.


For those of you who were curious about the first list…I have put them below in a handy best to not best list.

1. Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann.
Fantastic. A must read this year.

2. Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro.
Also a must read.

3. Raising Happiness, Christine Carter.
I blew off Bad Mother and saw Po Bronson speak on NurtureShock and swapped it instead for Carter’s parenting guide. I even led a book group on it at Motherese. I don’t do a lot of parenting books, but this one was actually a gem.

4. Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling.
I didn’t even post on this one, but the delight of my kids asking every morning: “How far did you get?” every morning was worth every page.

5. The Vagrants, by Yiyun Li.
Tough subject matter, but artfully written.

6. Brooklyn, Colm Toibin.
Despite the critics’ praise, it was pleasant but ordinary.

7. The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver.
Just not worth it.


11 Comments Post a comment
  1. For kicks (no pun intended) I’m going to read the third in the Dragon Tattoo series (was pleasantly surprised to see that none other than Laura Miller of Salon fame also loves this series).

    For serious read: Wolf Hall. It’s just time.

    thanks for this-I also make reading lists and then discard them. I think w/reading it’s better to go w/your gut…

    Delia Lloyd

    May 18, 2010
  2. Jazzie #

    The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.

    I just ordered it. I’m from “Mormon” heritage, so there’s an added personal interest. I can’t wait!

    May 18, 2010
  3. Oh goodness, the pressure. Like you, I devour the end of the year “Best of” lists and then emerge from Chanukah and Christmas with a pile of books I’m not that excited about reading.

    The best thing I’ve read lately (other than Raising Happiness of course!) was The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox.

    On my list for the summer is the dragon tattoo series that Delia mentioned. I’m succumbing to the hype (as I tend to do with books that aren’t about vampires).

    May 18, 2010
  4. Isabelle Salgado #

    hey, there Katy. Try Little Bee. Wrenching, true, delicate and has that brain-stick factor (follows you long after the last page. I love books that do that). And he avoided a cloying ending. Let me know what you think.

    May 18, 2010
  5. Dell #

    Hi Katy: Love your blog!! When summer rolls around you want to read an uplifting (and, of course, well written) book. Look no farther — “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson fills the bill. My book club loved, loved it and I’m sure you will too! Happy Reading….

    May 18, 2010
  6. Avery Sargent #

    Never being good at following orders, I simply have to defy the No Lists order b/c I have read some amazingly good books in the last 6 months, so please bear w/ me. Hopefully you wont regret it.
    Here we go…Jhumpa Lahiri, Unaccostomed Earth. I think she does a much better job writing short stories.
    Cutting for Stone, Verghese. Some people are annoyingly accomplished. A Dr. At Stanford, he is also a brilliant novelist. All the ingredients-laugh, cry, love his characters. Old Filth, Gardham. Actually its a trilogy but I loved this one best. Great “english” voice. Outlander, Adamson. Put on yr. seatbelt and enjoy the ride. The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Diaz. You will thank me for this. Last one, and perhaps the best, The Year of The Flood, Margaret Atwood. A dystopian tour de force. Atwood rocks.

    May 19, 2010
  7. Bob #

    I’ve been on a war jag for some reason — there are two really, really good ones I’ve read in the past couple of months: “Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War” by Karl Marlantes, and “The Forever War” by Dexter Filkins. Matterhorn takes you inside the hell of being a Marine in the thick of it in Vietnam. It may not quite be “The Things They Carried”, but it’s worth a read. And the Filkins book is terrific because he very artfully paints a picture of the ambiguous situation in which we found ourselves in Iraq. Next on my wartime list, I think, will be “War” by Sebastian Junger. Reviews are mixed, but what the heck — once you find a theme, you’ve got to follow through. Of course, we’re watching “Pacific” on HBO…

    May 20, 2010
    • alice #

      I saw Sebastian Junger speak about “War” a few days ago; as a result I bought the book. I also heard that he will be on Book TV (CSpan) soon;

      May 27, 2010
  8. alice #

    I agree with you about “Brooklyn” and “The Lacuna”

    May 24, 2010
  9. Regan #

    I would like to second the recommendation for “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz. I am still reading it, but it is fabulous. Also, Avery reminded me how much I love Margaret Atwood, and for a grim vision of the future, her devastating “Oryx and Crake” will do, too.
    For the ‘tween set, and a post-Harry Potter thrill (and much better writing), I loved “The Lightning Thief” series by Rick Riordan, and the “Golden Compass” series by Philip Pullman. I can’t bring myself to see either of these movies because I loved the books so much. My final young-adult-but-good-enough-for-mom recommendation is “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead. Beautiful.
    Dang, you said choose one….

    May 27, 2010
  10. alice #

    Third recommendation for Oscar Diaz

    May 27, 2010

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