As I did not work in a school this year, my summer was significantly shorter than in the past. I still managed to fit in quite a bit of reading in three weeks. I consider my summer reading anything I read during my three free weeks in August, not what I read in July in the evenings after working 10 hours a day. (Sadly, I read very little because I was mostly exhausted those nights and just sat on the couch watching Dr. Who - David Tennant, in all his dreamy-ness.) I can remember a few of the books I read then I will include them on this list.
I started my 6 day vacation in Maine with The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. There has been lots of buzz about this one as AJ owns an independent bookshop. It also came recommended by a colleague in the 5 minutes we had to chat about books in July. I figured if this was the one she could call to mind it must be memorable, and it was. Highly recommend for its nice story as well as the bookshop anecdotes.
Side note: For a number of reasons I recently purchased a Kindle. I read the above on it after purchasing it for a reasonable price. I spend far too much money on books. I also check a fair number out of the library and buy from used stores. What I have balked at is paying over $10 for an ebook. Most of what I have I have gotten for free as review copies, or inexpensively when Amazon offers a deal. It seems that if I am going to spend over $10 I want a paper and cardboard book to show for it. $10 seems like a good threshold for new-ish books, when a hardback is significantly more expensive and a paperback is upwards of $11. I have been pleased with my purchase and found it very convenient when we were in and out of hotels and the car. I have also adjusted well to reading in a different format which will also come in handy on the Metro. My bag of books stayed right in the trunk (and became a bit fuller during the journey) until we arrived home to VA.
The second book I read was Deborah Harkness's A Discovery of Witches. I will admit I made an effort to avoid vampire books after the atrocities perpetuated by Stephenie Meyer - though it was Bella more than the vampires I found offensive. By the time I realized what a large role vampires play in this one, it was too late and I was hooked. There was a bit to much "I am enthralled by this vampire and am therefore his for all eternity" on the part of the heroine, but the story moved along well and the world-building was thorough and consistent. I purchased the second book in the series, Shadow of Night (which I am happy to say involves time travel to Elizabethan England) as an ebook as well, but the 3rd I picked up at an independent bookstore I love in Madison, CT called RJ Julia. I just began the 2nd book, making myself wait until I had read all the books I brought to VA from DC in order to avoid taking them back unread.
Because we were so busy in ME, I only read those two books. As soon as we returned to VA, I began Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins. I loved Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Perkins suffers from depression and took a bit longer to finish this story than she anticipated. While the book was certainly worth the wait, I do not feel it was as strong as the other two. But what I did especially like was that while it is still a YA love story, she moved away from the formula of the first two in a way that made it more difficult to predict how the relationship between Isla and Josh would turn out. Anna, Etienne, Lola, and Cricket put in an appearance but are only a side story in Josh and Isla's relationship. I had pre-ordered the book from Hooray for Books in Old Town Alexandria where I went to see Perkins as well as Ellen Oh, Victoria Schwab and Megan Shepherd in January and picked it up on our way out of town. I felt like it should be my next read since I had already waited so long.
One book I can now recall reading in July was My Salinger Year, by Joanna Rakoff about the year she spent working for JD Salinger's agency. One of her jobs was to answer his fan mail with a form letter indicating that Salinger had requested not to receive any letters. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is that Rakoff had not read any of his work before getting the job and put if off until she had been there many months. This makes her before and after reactions to the fan letters an intriguing part of the story. I like Salinger's work, but never reacted to it the way many of my students did to Catcher in the Rye. Rakoff's insights into publishing were enlightening as well.
That is probably enough for Part I...I'll discuss the rest of my summer reading stack in my next post.