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A Summer Reading List For Women - Can't Put Down Books
Eight Books To Read For Summer
Ah, summer. Many of us are looking for great books to read while on vacation or to pass a well-deserved lazy afternoon. This list includes lighter reading, as well as books that will pique the interests of a wide variety of readers.
Whether you're at the beach, on a picnic, or laying in a hammock, all of these selections will have you turning the pages, wanting more! Sit back, enjoy, and enrich your life through these stories of love and heartbreak, triumph, overcoming obstacles, and the human condition.
From the Author
The Island – by Elin Hilderbrand
This novel has been on the New York Bestseller List with its riveting story. Chess is planning a late-summer wedding when she inexplicably phones her mother, Birdie, and announces that the engagement is off. Birdie has always prided herself on being ready for the unexpected; she always carefully plans everything, including her daughter’s wedding.
But when Chess also quits her job as a food editor, Birdie recruits her younger daughter Tate, and her sister India to help. They accompany her and Chess to Tuckernuk Island for a summer of healing away from life’s daily distractions. A house-full of women will prompt them to uncover secret truths about each other and delve into the depths of their family affairs.
This is the sort of book that you won’t be able to put down until you have read the last page.
The Paris Wife – by Paula Mclain
Do you think you’ve heard it all about Hemingway? How about a story told from Hadley Hemingway’s perspective? She is 28 when she marries the 21 year-old Hemingway and together they head for 1920’s Paris.
This novel takes you back in time to the Jazz Age in this French capital where Hadley is Ernest Heminway’s rock. She musters serious grit when she recovers from a fall as a young girl, and again when she has to take care of her mother, whose declining health keeps Hadley away from the dating scene.
But after meeting Hemingway, she draws upon her inner strength once again as the temptations of other women, alcohol, and artistic passion sweep Ernest away in the fast-paced life of the Parisian 20’s.
A story of love, trial and fortitude, Hadley Hemingway finally gets her well-deserved spot in the limelight. This book would also be great for a book group.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – by Jonathan Safran Foer
You may wonder why a book that talks about the World Trade Center tragedy is included in a reading list for summer reading. This is the incredible journey of a nine year old who lost his father in the 9/11 event.
But that tragedy only ties into this book as a backdrop for Oskar Schell. He’s unusually bright and inquisitive. He spends his time inventing things, following Stephen Hawking’s work and contacts scientists for fun. He discovers a key in an envelope that doesn’t fit any lock that he can find – it was his father’s key. It’s mysteriously labeled “black.”
What follows is a wondrous journey, often funny, of a boy who rediscovers himself that also allows for much-needed healing. This would be a great selection for a book group.
The Buddha In the Attic – by Julie Otsuka
A tale that captures the essence of the American Dream, this novel begins with a story of immigration. A group of Japanese women are “picture” brides and embark on a sea journey from Japan to San Francisco. Upon arrival in the United States, this novel portrays the difficulties and triumphs of these women as they become new wives.
The story follows them as they experience life as second-class citizens doing labor-intensive, back-breaking work in California fields or cleaning houses and scrubbing floors. As they become mothers, the reader sees how these women contend with the challenges of raising children in an alien culture, with a different language and ideals so different from their own.
A spellbinding tale, you won’t want to put this one down until the final page. This would also be a great read for a book group.
The Author Reads From Her Book
Lucky One – by Nicolas Sparks
If you have ever read any of Sparks’ other work, you will know that he offers stories of love, triumph and challenge that the reader gobbles up with incredible ease. His writing is simple and eloquent, yet he weaves a magical tale that leaves readers wanting more.
The Lucky One is no different. Logan Thibault is serving as a marine in the Iraq war when he happens upon a photo of a woman that seems to bring him good luck – in the warzone and in his personal life. When he returns home, he endeavors to find the woman in the picture, but instead meets Elizabeth, divorced mother. As their love blossoms, Thibault’s secret threatens to unravel his relationship. Does Thibault discover who the woman is in the picture? You must read to find out.
Shanghai Girls – by Lisa See
If you read Snowflower and the Secret Fan, you will know how eloquently compelling See’s work really is. In this tale, two sisters – Pearl and May – live a happy, carefree life until one day their father reveals that he has sold them into an arranged marriage to pay off his debts.
At first, the girls have no intention of following through with this plan. But when their city is attacked and bombed, they flee for the United States to be with their husbands-to-be. Shortly after arriving in California, May finds out that she is pregnant and the sisters will have to share a secret that could make or break their future.
Lisa See's writing is in-depth and filled with meaning and would serve to motivate great discussions in a book group. This book also has an award-winning sequel: Dreams of Joy.
Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James
You might have heard of the media hype surrounding this novel. I just love it when that happens: it just makes people want to read it even more! It doesn’t disappoint. James develops the characters and intertwines their lives. The reader feels like these characters come to life.
Christian Grey is a successful business tycoon and has some pretty impressive accomplishments as a 27 year old, yet care and compassion aren’t part of his everyday vocabulary. But then he meets young Ana and is taken by her young innocence.
They begin a relationship where she finds out Christian has a dark side, creating a character that the reader loves to hate and hates to love. Ana in the meantime finds herself judging whether this relationship is good for her and whether to stay or go.
The Tiger’s Wife – Téa Obreht
Center-stage for this novel is the doctor Natalia and her efforts to recover details about the death of her grandfather. As World War II breaks out, the once idyllic life that Natalia shares with her grandfather is replaced by the harsh realities of a world affected by war.
Though active fighting is hundreds of miles away, Natalia's town is still affected. Her grandfather practices medicine in secret; even the zoo shuts down. Natalia longs for her beloved grandfather who shares stories of wisdom and life-long lessons with her.
After the war breaks out, a tiger from the zoo escapes and takes refuge with a deaf-mute woman and is one of the stories her grandfather shares. As this story progresses, the reader faces the fact that life is a cycle, that all beings are mortal, and the wisdom of the ages persists because it has inherent value. The various themes in this book - from the obvious characters to the abstract - will serve as great discussion in a book group.
The NYT Calls This Novel Haunting and Powerful
Which Of These Eight Books Are (Or Will Be) Your Favorites?
© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun