Summer Reading List: Part One

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Whenever summer rolls around I am reminded of growing up, and the awesome summer reading programs our local library put together for the kids in our small town. Reading was always one of my favorite things to do, and I can still remember that magical feeling in the air listening to stories read aloud in the big domed children's room in our library, or participating in a fun book-related activity after storytime. The summer reading program was always a big deal, and my sister and I would anticipate it for months. When it finally rolled around we would go crazy picking out our books and finding a comfy spot to read and read for hours on end.

And now as an adult I still love reading. And I still LOVE the library. So I thought this year I'd put together a summer reading list of my own- a list of new-to-me books I plan on reading over the next few months- and share it with all of you too!

Let me know if you decide to read along with me, and stay tuned for part two, which will publish next week, for a total of 15 books. Happy almost-summer, and happy reading! Feel free to add any of YOUR summer book picks in the comments below.

all summaries and photos taken from amazon.com



1. Signs of Life: A Memoir (I'm in the middle of this one and LOVE it- I'll be posting a review as soon as I finish it).

Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss. 

What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers. 


2. The Age of Miracles: A Novel

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
3. Wild: A Memoir- From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.


4. How Did You Get This Number

Nine thoughtful, unfussy essays by the author of the collection I Was Told There'd Be Cake navigate around illusions of youth in the hope that by young adulthood they'll all add up to happiness. The account of Crosley's footloose adventure to Lisbon on the eve of her 30th birthday starts things off in rollicking fashion in Show Me on the Doll: without proficient language skills, getting hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of Bairro Alto, and panicking in front of the myriad QVC channels offered by her hotel, Crosley recognizes that Lisbon was a place with a painfully disproportionate self-reflection-to-experience ratio. There is the requisite essay about moving to New York and replacing her anorexic-kleptomaniac roommate with a more acceptable living arrangement: in Crosley's case, delineated in Take a Stab at It, she is interviewed by the creepily disembodied current occupier of a famous former brothel on the Bowery, McGurk's Suicide Hall.


5. Still Missing

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.



6. Insurgent (don't read this summary if you haven't already read book one, Divergent!)

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love. Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so. New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.


7. Then Again (Diane Keaton's memoir)

Mom loved adages, quotes, slogans. There were always little reminders pasted on the kitchen wall. For example, the word THINK. I found THINK thumbtacked on a bulletin board in her darkroom. I saw it Scotch-taped on a pencil box she’d collaged. I even found a pamphlet titled THINK on her bedside table. Mom liked to THINK.

So begins Diane Keaton’s unforgettable memoir about her mother and herself. In it you will meet the woman known to tens of millions as Annie Hall, but you will also meet, and fall in love with, her mother, the loving, complicated, always-thinking Dorothy Hall. To write about herself, Diane realized she had to write about her mother, too, and how their bond came to define both their lives. In a remarkable act of creation, Diane not only reveals herself to us, she also lets us meet in intimate detail her mother. Over the course of her life, Dorothy kept eighty-five journals—literally thousands of pages—in which she wrote about her marriage, her children, and, most probingly, herself. Dorothy also recorded memorable stories about Diane’s grandparents. Diane has sorted through these pages to paint an unflinching portrait of her mother—a woman restless with intellectual and creative energy, struggling to find an outlet for her talents—as well as her entire family, recounting a story that spans four generations and nearly a hundred years. More than the autobiography of a legendary actress, Then Again is a book about a very American family with very American dreams. Diane will remind you of yourself, and her bonds with her family will remind you of your own relationships with those you love the most.

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See you next week for Part Two!