Summer Reading ’15 (Beach Not Required)

I know summer won’t officially arrive for another week, but with temperatures in the eighties, high school students collecting their diplomas, movie blockbusters hitting theaters, and ice cream shops offering coupons for free cones, the season is already in full-swing. I thought I’d share a few titles on my summer reading list.

Go Set a Watchman (Harper Lee) – Though this novel (available July 14) looks like a sequel, it actually served as the inspiration for Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird. After Lee gave her publisher the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman, a story narrated by an adult Scout Finch, her editor suggested Lee write a novel from a younger Scout’s point of view. Thus was born one of the twentieth century’s best, and most beloved, books. It isn’t known why the eighty-nine-year-old Lee, who for decades vowed she would never publish a second book, agreed to the release of Go Set a Watchman. We can only be thankful that she did.

A Spool of Blue Thread (Anne Tyler) – If Anne Tyler wrote the phone book, I would read it. She has written a number of beloved novels (The Accidental Tourist, Digging to America, Back When We Were Grownups) and won a Pulitzer prize for Breathing Lessons. Her stories, all set in Baltimore, feature families, marriages, and friendships formed by well-drawn characters. No one is perfect in Tyler’s stories, but she always imbues them with qualities that make them loveable and unforgettable. I’m looking forward to meeting the Whitshanks, the latest family of characters created, and dissected, by Tyler.

Dorothy Parker Drank Here (Ellen Meister) – Meister’s Farewell, Dorothy Parker delighted me back in 2013. It was fresh, witty, poignant, and wholly engrossing. In the story, the spirit of Dorothy Parker emerges from the guestbook of the famous Algonquin Hotel to help movie critic Violet Epps become less of a, well, shrinking violet. In her follow-up, Meister gives Parker’s spirit a new cast of characters to “haunt.” I’m ready to sign the guestbook and enjoy the fun.

The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House (Kate Anderson Brower) – There are plenty of books filled with facts on the administrations of the forty-three men who have served as Commander-in-Chief. Brower gives us a different look behind the scenes after conducting extensive interviews with staff members. Not folks like the press secretary and chief of staff, but the men and women who remain in service when a new president takes the oath of office: the cooks, florists, doormen, butlers and many others who maintain the White House and serve the First Family. Brower’s book covers life in the White House from John F. Kennedy’s tragically short term to the current presidency of Barack Obama. It promises to be fascinating reading for presidential history fans.

The Novel Habits of Happiness (Alexander McCall Smith) – I always have a book by the prolific Smith on my reading list. This offering, which will be available in July, is the tenth in his Isabel Dalhousie series. Isabel is a philosopher and amateur sleuth in this series set in Edinburgh, Scotland. In each book, Isabel contemplates the mysteries of life, morality, and human behavior as she works to solve a puzzling case. Smith’s books offer readers comfort, entertainment, and wisdom;I have no doubt this latest provides the same.

What is on your summer reading list? Is it filled with nonfiction, mysteries, autobiographies, or lighthearted tales for your days in the sun? Whatever your selections, I wish you happy reading! And a great week!

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