Curious about my summer of reading? Here are installments 1 and 2!

9. Leave Me

Leave Me: A Novel by [Forman, Gayle]

This was just enjoyable. Kinda trashy, good characters, nice story. Nothing fancy but nothing bad! Solid middle of the pack.

8. End of Your Life Book Club

Just barely breaking the top 10 is this story of a mother and son bonding over their shared love of books as the mother suffers from cancer. I cried at the end, but I don’t remember anything about it, so…

7. Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls: A Novel by [See, Lisa]

My 70-year-old knitting friend recommended this. I started writing that as a disclaimer but actually a fan of grocery store sales and WW2 novels is a kindred spirit so I don’t know why I didn’t listen to this recommendation sooner.

I was pleasantly surprised by this story of sisters escaping to the US during China’s revolution. It’s not a region of the world I’m drawn to, but maybe my lack of knowledge on the subject was what drew me in. I found myself referencing the story almost every day I was reading it, and on top of the historical aspects, it was a touching family story.

6. Claire of the Sea Light

Claire of the Sea Light (Vintage Contemporaries) by [Danticat, Edwidge]

I seem to have a soft spot for Caribbean stories, at least this summer. It’s another subject I’m not educated in, and there’s an ethereal and spiritual factor in the characters that elevates a so-so story.

5. The Orphan Mother

This completely took me by surprise. It was a staff recommended read at the library, and since I love Civil War history I picked it up as a throw away. And then I read it in a day. Not groundbreaking literature, but great historical references to the lesser-known details of life for blacks (free and slaves) and whites in a Southern town during the war–especially interesting to see the war as more of a background event than a mid-battle story.

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine: A Novel by [Honeyman, Gail]

Another one that took me by surprise! I envisioned it as one of those popular summer reads that is gimmicky or otherwise annoying (basically every top summer read the past few years), but it was a laugh out loud funny story about incredibly endearing and complex characters.

3. Augustown

Augustown: A Novel by [Miller, Kei]

I came upon this accidentally when I went to a reading for another book and this author happened to be there. This was my first intro to Caribbean literature–a tale of Jamaica and Rastafarianism. A) Both of those things are fascinating B) The mysticism and magical realism of this had my mind racing the whole time I read. The interconnecteness of people and history and legend goes so deep beyond the story itself. The writing required concentration because it was in a thick accent, but it was worth it, and had my screaming from the descriptiveness at times. I picked it for my upcoming book club and can’t wait to discuss it with others.

2. The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by [Thomas, Angie]

No surprise this renowned book of summer 2017 comes in the top 3. I read it in 6 hours. I liked the characters and the story, but what I loved most was the family relationships. In contemporary fiction, it’s so unusual to see a non-divorced, bickering, devoted, loving family making hard decisions and supporting each other. It’s especially unusual to see a black family portrayed that way in the media, but for any family to show so much love in a modern story is refreshing and appealing.

1. The Bright Hour

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by [Riggs, Nina]

I have a maybe masochistic draw to stories about death. And yes I cried at the end, but I was so much more filled with a love of life reading this. It was so real and accurate and engaging. There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been covered in the many reviews, but go and read this and appreciate each day for what it is. Yeah, that’s annoying and trite, but someone Riggs’ entreaty to appreciate life was more real and more impactful. It wasn’t a “life is beautiful” but rather life is beautiful and often shitty but there’s something in that too.


The End.

Only 6 months until I can read another!