This summer I had an unusual amount of time to read.
I’ve actually never had trouble finding time to read-it’s the thing that refreshes and inspires, fully entertaining, and what I go to at any unoccupied moment. This summer my family took a month off. We played, we reconnected, we looked inward, we did things for enjoyment’s sake, and we read. A lot. Here are of the best books I read this summer…
Bossy Pants, Tina Fey
So funny, so witty, so crazy. I tend to choose more serious reading material-it’s the morbid leaning that chased me into Tina Fey’s arms. My husband and I are apparently part of the few Americans that find her show, 30 Rock, the absolute beginning and end of comedy, and her book is just so. You know what-just read this excerpt of a prayer for her daughter and fall over dead…
“First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches… May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.”
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
I read this years ago, but picked it up again at the library. She’s a poet, a humanitarian, a woman with a story to tell and much to teach. With racial inequality still smoldering in our country, her story is a glimpse of how far we’ve come, and how far we have to go. The first part of her autobiography, this is the story of Angelou’s early childhood-the story is powerful, the writing is beautiful, clear, and poignant.
James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
Another reread, this book has been such a lighthearted delight. We read it aloud in the evenings to our six and four year old-they were begging for more each night. Quirky, fun, and quick, it is an ideal family book to read together. The adventure begins with a sad, lonely orphan (what good tale doesn’t?), and brings you along the tallest of tales involving alligator tongues, a giant house-sized peach, talking insects, and ocean voyages.
The Son, Philipp Meyer
In recent years I’ve discovered the sweeping generational historical fiction genre. The book is as long as the genre, but it is layered and interesting. Spanning four generations of McCullough’s, the book begins with a brutal ravaging of a Texas settlement and kidnapping of a 13 year old Eli McCullough. The following pages tell the story of Eli’s life in a Comanche tribe, their demise by white settlers and armies, Eli’s reintegration into society, and the challenges for his descendants-chiefly the inability to live up to the irascible family patriarch. In the running for the Pulitzer for fiction, The Son is a great choice for stretch on the couch.
Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee
I can’t even. Let’s all take a historical literary moment here-this is a book that has been buried in some closet for 65 years. Written before her bestselling classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, Watchman was shelved while Lee wrote the younger Scout into existence. TKAM was one of the books that made me fall in love with literature-read it again and remember the child who loved and fought with such endearing spirit that you’ll consider naming a child after her. Feel the injustice of the time and let it inform your beliefs. Relate to the characters and let it teach you about white privilege, oppression of African Americans, and the mystery of how good and evil can coexist in this world.