Ah summer, it’s finally here! Time to play outside, eat piles of fresh berries, make some sun tea, and devour a few interesting books. My preference is for fiction with a plot that covers some ground and isn’t too bogged down by flowery language. Dense descriptions make me nod off, which is useful for a natural sedative, but not a good recipe for finishing a book. Here are a few recent reads I’ve enjoyed, in case you have the same criteria:
Currently reading: I Love You More, by Jennifer Murphy.
It’s unlikely you’ve heard of this one, because it’s a freshly released debut novel. It only came to my attention because it was quietly penned by one of my neighbors! I had no idea she was a writer, I barely know her, but I am thrilled for her. You don’t get a book deal with Double Day without some serious chops. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’m already charmed by the central character (a 12 year old girl cleverly named Picasso).
What She Left Behind, by Ellen Marie Wiseman
Two stories intertwined: a modern day teenager recovering from a family trauma & a woman who is committed to an asylum in the late 1920’s (even though she is perfectly sane). It’s a story about appalling injustices, and how people react to them. I was not expecting my heart to be in my throat for so many chapters! One night, my eyes were still wide open at 3 am, (but it was worth it).
Note: If you are familiar with the second season of American Horror Story, you may find yourself waiting for Jessica Lange to pop up somewhere in the asylum. Yikes!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
A professor with Aspergers devises a plan to find a mate, and is led through unexpected adventures with squirrely people who don’t adhere to his plan. The story is told from the professor’s perspective as he processes all of these unexpected events, which I found delightful and insightful.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel by Alice Hoffman
Coney Island curiosities, a murder mystery, two people in love with the deck stacked against them, and ok, I admit it – one of the main characters is a photographer. I was fascinated by the descriptions of a not yet fully developed Manhattan, woods teeming with deer and other animals living along the Hudson River are so hard to imagine now!
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
Even though this is a work of fiction, I felt like I came away with a real impression of what life could feel like for the citizens of North Korea. This Pulitzer Prize winner lingers with you for awhile. I may have been so intrigued that I made my husband watch a number of documentaries with me, then I talked his ear off about North Korea for a few more weeks. I’m pretty sure he loved it.
Tristan has already mentioned these, but they are worth mentioning again. Such imagination! There are heros and villians, it’s very cleverly written, and of course I love that Ransom Riggs collected the photos first, then built the story around them. I can hardly wait for the third book in this series to come out.
Finally, I don’t think it’s possible to write a reading list right now without including The Goldfinch and The Fault in Our Stars. You can’t lose really, both of these deserve every bit of attention they’ve received.
Have you read any good fiction lately? I’ll need to line up another book soon!