It’s been too long since I’ve done a book post. Heck, it’s been since last year. You’d think I have no time to read, but I squeeze it in when I can—during middle-of-the-night feedings, nap time, before bed. It’s a bit like showering. If I don’t get to do it everyday, I get a little cranky.
So here’s what I’ve read lately. If you’ve seen my book posts before you know I have pretty varied taste (see here). I used to teach middle school and retained a love of young adult lit. Sometimes I dig sci-fi. Once in a while I’m in the mood for nonfiction. I adore novels.
At any rate, here are a few of my favorites as of late (links go to Amazon, because Amazon is awesomeballs and I read on a Kindle. But no one is paying me to promote these books or where to purchase them).
It started with one tainted water tap in 1850′s London. So begins the cholera epidemic that wiped out a portion of the city and baffled the medical world. It’s a tragic but enlightening history of infrastructure, “modern” medicine, and how a budding metropolis turned into a deadly breeding ground of bacteria.
Jakob is an executioner in 1600s Bavaria. When a boy is found dead in the river of their small logging town with mysterious marks on his arm, the citizens suspect witchraft. With the help of his daughter, Jakob discovers that there’s something much worse brewing in his town.
I was a sucker for this book from the start—it’s written by a local author and set in Seattle. Sam works at a fast food restaurant. He’s got little ambition and prefers to hang with his dopey co-workers, drink and play video games. That is, until a hulking beast of a man enters the restaurant one night and nearly tears him to shreds. Turns out, he’s got other plans for Sam. And Sam’s mom has some explaining to do about his supernatural lineage. A funny, quirky read that has movie deal written all over it.
30 year-old Henrietta Lacks, a poor African-American tobacco farmer from the south, died in 1951 from cancer. Doctors took a few of her postmortem cancerous cells to study. But a funny thing happened: her cells didn’t die in the lab. They thrived. They multiplied. They generated so rapidly, in fact, that petri dish upon petri dish were sold to hospitals around the world. Her cells have allowed for some of the most remarkable advances in modern medicine and generated millions of dollars to the sellers.
But Henrietta’s real legacy, her children, never saw a penny. Her kids, now adults in their 50′s, are a sad, uneducated lot with a myriad of problems. Author Rebecca Skloot tells the story of the Lacks family through interviews which are sometimes sad, sometimes funny (Henrietta’s daughter truly believes that her mother is still alive in a petri dish somewhere), and always thought-provoking. A powerful true story.
I know, I know. You don’t need to hear about another vampire book. But this one—about a family trying to cover up their blood-drinking past and live in the suburbs—is a super fun summer read.
A small town daughter disappears. The local 83 year-old obituary writer investigates. A mysterious JK Rowling-esque author hires the town’s printing press to manufacture the nail-biting final chapter in her book series. But is the missing girl as fictitious as Harry Potter? Book details leak, the missing girl’s mother gets caught in lies, and the lines between fact and fiction blur in this compelling read.
Ernest Hemingway was, to put it gently, “a man about town.” This fictional account from the perspective of his first wife examines life with the philandering author, their travels, their child, and how it all crumbled to pieces.
If there’s one genre I detest, it’s self-help. But this short book by Meagan Francis (mother of 5, and happily so) is more like the Cliffs Notes to enjoying parenting. I’ve read it several times over, trying to memorize her quick tricks to not sweating the small stuff. So when Lucy decides that syrup is better squirted all over the kitchen counters than on her waffles, I know how to react (and it’s not to lock myself in the closet and never come out). A must-read if you’re a mom.
I’m quite certain that Karen Russell will be one of the greatest literary voices of our generation. In this collection of short stories, reality and fantasy are indistinguishable: children grow up on alligator-wrestling farms, old men retire to floating nursing homes in the Everglades, boys dive in caves with their dead sister’s ghost, girls raised by werewolves attend prep school. It’s a whimsical retreat into a gently fantastic world. I’m currently engrossed in her second book, Swamplandia!
There you have it. Grab a book, a cocktail and a lounge chair and enjoy summer one page at a time. Happy reading!