With the long days and frequent getaways, we find ourselves, as many do, reading more during the summer months.
Our Guest Editor in Residence, Kate Ellen, put together a few tips to get the most out of your summer reading, followed by some recommended reading picks to get you started.
Hope you enjoy!
1. The First 100 Pages. If the story hasn’t grabbed me in the first 100, making me want to cancel plans to stay coiled up and flipping pages, then it isn’t the book for me. Hey, I’m a busy lady! I’m not about to trudge through something that doesn’t light me up.
2. Have No Qualms about reading more than one book at once. Sometimes I read one dense/heavy book at the same time as something light/comical, just so I can balance out the light and the dark of it all without going mental or giving up on a tough story that deserves the read.
3. The Perfect Location is key. Unlike in the colder months, you have many more awesome locales to read in that will add to the joy of your book. Dig your toes into the warm sand at the beach, splay out on a blanket in the grass, or catch some warm rays on your porch. Promise, it’s better this way.
4. Reread. Use the extra time to pull one of your favorites out and re-read; I love to reconnect with characters to see how perspective changes (or doesn’t) as life goes on outside the book.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
I ripped through this incredibly honest and moving memoir that tells the inspiring story of a young Cheryl Stayed in the aftermath of her mother’s death, a young divorce from a sweet man, and a self-destructive downward spiral. Without any experience, she finds redemption and peace by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mojave to the Oregon border by herself.
Nature has always been a very important part of my life; when I’m in doubt, sad, feeling lost, confused, or weak all I need to do is go solo in open space and everything seems to shift back to where it should be. Gratitude, humility, forgiveness, belief in my own tenacity and reliance. All senses are firing at once—quiet sounds, sunshine, decay, growth; the feel of sweat on my skin. It makes complete no-brainer sense to me that Cheryl could not heal without it. Being alone in nature brings you to the interesting realization/truth that you are at once super important and not important at all. Wild made me get out my backpack and go outside, I’m sure it will likewise inspire.
*Note: Wild being released as a motion picture this Christmas starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl.
BEST LOVE STORY
South of the Border, West of the Sun
By Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)
This Japanese author is known for his surrealist/ magical realism style, but this is a straight-forward love story. It tracks the connection of two only-children who find refuge in each other as adolescents and then reunite in their 30’s. The writing is lucid and dreamy, and Murakami expresses moods and sentiments about the heart that are so exactly what I have felt before but could never find the words to describe. It’s powerfully reassuring that these feelings can be named and even more comforting that they are universal.
BEST LAUGH OUT LOUD BEACH READ
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns)
By Mindy Kaling
Loquacious comedian Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project) writes hysterically about her awkward youth, her progress into professional comedy writing, and other ramblings peppered with solid bits of weird wisdom. I loved her list of ‘Best Friend Rights and Responsibilities’ that nails it with examples like “If you’re depressed, I’ll be there for you. I will hate it and find you really tedious, but I won’t abandon you,” and “I will hate and relike people for you.” She also describes the difference between dating boys and men, women in comedy, and recaps some of her favorite comedy moments of all time. A light, funny, smart breeze of a book that you can plow through, as Mindy herself acknowledges in her FAQs, “This book should take you two days to read… If you are reading this book every night for months, something is definitely wrong.”
By Vladimir Nabokov
A contender on many Top 100 Book lists is the controversial story of Humbert Humbert’s twisted obsession with far-too young ‘nymphet’ Dolores ‘Lolita’ Haze after becoming her stepfather. It tracks the doomed and inappropriate love affair of the pair who are delusional and full of madness. Generally there are camps of people who either think it an erotic/exploitative story glorifying Humbert’s horrific nature, and those who think it is proof of Nabokov’s fierce abilities as an ironist. I’m in the second camp, and I loved taking my time to digest the depth of his writing, making it a great classic for the slower summer months.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
by Laura Hillenbrand
It’s the absolute perfect time to read this incredible chronicle of track Olympian turned WWII airman Louis Zamparini who passed away at age 97 this month. Angelina Jolie will be making her directorial debut with his unbelievable story this Christmas based on the interviews and deep, subterranean-like research that author Hillenbrand brings to life. It is one of the most horrifying and triumphant books on the realities of war and one man’s spiritual tenacity in the face of it. Not only was this book profoundly moving, but I also learned a ton about WWII in the Pacific. It sounds super heavy, but somehow every excruciating, terrifying experience is overcome as Zamparini finds a way to survive no matter what. His unbreakable spirit is viscerally heartening and will undoubtedly fill you with awe.
As avid book lovers, we want to know, what are you reading this summer? Do tell!