Time for summer reading which I just love because my attitude is anything goes and I usually keep it light. My reading tastes reflect my wardrobe: comfy, colorful, a little spilled on, and easy to wear by the pool while I sip my sweet tea. I may read Jane Eyre to get a jump on a book club choice, the only slightly grim selection on my list. I tend to browse a lot of fashion magazines and decorating books during the summer; I just finished One Man’s Folly, Julia Reed’s lush paean to collector and decorator Furlow Gatewood and his home in Americus, Georgia. Next up: The Perfectly Imperfect Home, How to Decorate and Live Well, by Deborah Needleman, the editor of The Wall Street Journal’s “Off Duty” Saturday section. (The watercolor illustrations are sweet enough to cut out and frame, but I don’t like chopped up books.) I’m decorating my den, much needed after ten years of cat destruction, so I’ve turned to the Misses Reed and Needleman and Mr. Gatewood for inspiration.
When I do go off to the beach or mountains, I may not read as much as you think. I do puzzles. I fish. I TALK. I read a lot throughout the year so during vacation, my eyes take a little break. Sometimes I pick odd books during the heat of summer. Once I picked out Milking the Moon, A Southerner’s Story of Life on This Planet, an oral history of a colorful writer I’d never heard of. Last year I darn near bought Sister Parish Design: On Decorating – I was so taken by the illustrations and the stylish tips that would bring life to my shabby chic 1979 Colonial. Truth is I thought of my fishing rod, the bass would be biting in June, so I put the book back on the shelf. Somehow, Sister Parish and flinging plugs at hungry largemouth bass just didn’t seem to fit together; the bass won out.
For this blog, I emailed friends and family for summer reading suggestions so here they are from the shores of Connecticut to the plains of Texas, from the ‘burbs of Northern Virginia to the tap of my sister-in-law’s iPhone.
1) Anyway, as to the good books. I LOVE Wilber Smith and highly recommend all of his books except for the last two, in which he wrote about terrorists and changed his writing style for some unknown reason. The prior novels are mostly based in his native Africa and quite educational aside from also being downright great reads. I also enjoy Ken Follett, Diana Gabaldon, and George RR Martin. The latter penned Game of Thrones, now on HBO and fantastic, as well as six other novels in the series–all amazing, powerful political satires! Pam, Chatham Hall friend
2) Hi Tyler– the best book I’ve read recently has been Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon. If you are looking for somewhat lighter beach-reads, I’d recommend anything by Alexander McCall Smith, or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Elizabeth, sister-in-law
3) Fellow readers of Arcadia and I were just talking about this book a few days ago. I’ve read many good books in the past year, but this was one of the most memorable. (That and Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us). If you haven’t yet read Lauren Groff’s 2013 Arcadia then a treasure awaits you. I’ve shared this novel with a wide circle of family and friends of all ages and got overwhelmingly positive responses to the writing and the plot. Dear friends, even my husband read it and loved it. Characters are achingly and beautiful rendered. Most important, perhaps, is how the book provides a prism in which those who lived through the ’60s and ’70s (and those who have wondered about that time) can reflect on the upside-down world that that characterized that era, and the world left in its wake. The central character starts out as a very young boy living in a bread truck with his parents, members of a caravan in search of a place in which to establish a Back-to-Earth Utopia, one whose inhabitants would live off the land and share nearly everything. An old abandoned mansion on a sprawling, beautiful piece of land in New York provides the setting for Arcadia — the name of the eventually established commune. Readers will follow its growth and diminution through the eyes of a lovable but unflinching observer. The story even takes us beyond the present day, in which the adults and children of Arcadia have scattered. As a reader, I have to share that I kind of dreaded this leap into the year 2018. Yet it is the final pages of Arcadia that make the book the triumph that it is. Carol, old friend
4) How about Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter? Anita, book club member
5) “I just read junk!” Mary, Chatham Hall friend
6) Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Sempleton
The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
So pull a chaise longue in the shade and start reading. Fall and all its busy demands will arrive before you know it. I usually don’t read books like a biography on Lana Turner in November.
Picture Credit: L. Boyd