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What’s on your list?

By June 2, 2009How To

This morning, on my walk with the dogs, I looked up from my thoughts and saw green. No money, wasn’t falling from the sky – though how cool would that have been? – it was foliage. Leaves, trees, bursting huckleberry bushes – all green. See:


Apparently summer is upon us. (And apparently I’ve already had one too many margaritas – the trees are not growing on a slant here – I’m just a terrible, horrible photographer…but you get the point, right?)

Last summer, I never looked up and I never took a break. I virtually (pun intended) ignored the fact that I live on one of the most sought after U.S. summer destinations around.

I’m determined to make this year different. I’m even considering working from 6am-2pm, or maybe 8am-12pm + 6pm-10pm, every Wednesday and heading to the beach in those off hours. Can you imagine?

And there will be reading. Lots of it. I’m taking recommendations below for superb summer reading. And I’m offering my own list for you. You won’t find these in the ‘new releases’ section…these books were written and published years ago – and I still love them dearly. If you missed them…here’s your second chance:

  • A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle. The writing in this book is so clear and warm and easy. The stories are hilarious. The food – OH! the food. It’s the best kind of memoir, it makes you feel like you were there too. After I read this book, I devoured every single thing that Mayle wrote. Get it here.
  • The River Midnight, by Lilian Nattel. Old world, yiddish, mysticism, incredible character build-up. This book is magical, I encourage you to get lost in it.
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells. This book is NOT a ‘chick-flick’ – this book is hands down the most powerful Woman book I’ve ever read. If by some god-awful chance you missed it, run to the bookstore.
  • The Patron Saint of Liars, by Ann Patchett. Everything Ann Patchett writes is phenomenal, but Patron Saint is my favorite. Unwed mothers (old-school style) with some harbinger twists. So good, sooo good.
  • A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson. I hate to repeat myself, but here I go: Everything by Bill Bryson is phenomenal, but this one is my favorite. You will howl with laughter and never, ever want to go hiking again – but in a good way.
  • Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. You’d be surprised by how many people haven’t read this book. I read it when I was 13 years old on a sailing trip. 45 foot boat with some of my best camp friends, island hopping on Lake Superior. The book was so thick that the binding broke, and as I finished pages they flew off into the lake. So don’t borrow mine, get your own.

Okay, your turn…what should we read this summer?

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Tori Tuncan says:

    I’d recommend “A Natural History of the Senses” by Denise Ackerman. You also have inspired me to try to read SOMETHING besides my computer screen this summer!!!

    Tori :)

  • --Deb says:

    Surprisingly, considering how much I read (ALL the time), I don’t do “Summer” reading. I read pretty much the same combination of stuff during the summer as during any other season.

    That said, I agree with Ackerman’s History of the Senses. It’s delectable. It’s got a place of honor on one of the two, small bookcases in my bedroom.

    Did you read “Ella Minnow Pea” when it came out a few summers ago? Not only is it funny as anything, as a writer, you’ve GOT to appreciate the special skill set that made it possible.

    I loved David Crystal’s “The Fight for English,” too. and Gabrielle Walker’s “An Ocean of Air.”

    But, me? I’m revelling in Dorothy Dunnett’s peerless historical fiction yet again. Well, that and several dozen more books of whatever description. Because, never not reading, you know!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thanks, Deb! I didn’t mean to insinuate that I don’t read during the rest of the year…but seeing as how I live *here* and never take a vacation…I thought, well, you know.

  • I’ve read Gone With the Wind (GWTW for those in “the club”) upwards of 10 times. I don’t know why I’m compelled to keep reading it over and over.

    I recommend A Year In The Merde – about a British expat in France and his adventures trying to open a chain of British tea rooms there. It was side splittingly (is that a word?) funny. A great summer read. Even my husband enjoyed it.

    Thanks for the list Julie. I’m off to Borders to pick one or two up.

  • Liz Jenkins says:

    I adored Ella Minnow Pea. I think my favorite Ann Patchett is The Magician’s Assistant but I do agree that she’s fabulous.
    Just re-read Valley Of The Dolls a few weeks ago – forgot how much I enjoyed that one.
    A series I love is by Jasper Fforde – the Thursday Next novels – would recommend these to anyone, as well as The Time Travelers Wife.
    I’ve been tracking my books I read lately on because I can never remember the titles.

  • --Deb says:

    Yeah, I know–you were talking about the vacation, not the “summer reading” thing, but I’ve seen the concept of summer reading crop up a lot today, and I’m starting to worry that I’m strange for simply reading the same stuff as usual!

    I agree with Liz, too, by the way. I love Ann Patchett and, in fact, am reading Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series even as we speak! (Well, it’s sitting next to the computer, I’m not literaly reading right NOW.)

  • Sandra Foyt says:

    I’m planning a Read Across America Road Trip where we will listen to audiobooks, and explore their settings. I’m doing this with my kids, so I’m mostly reading children’s books. However, there are some gems such as Huck Fin, that I’m really looking forward to reading again.

    Have you read Peter Mayle’s A Dogs Life? It’s a hilarious take on the living in Provence idea.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Sandra – your trip sounds amazing! And, yes, on A Dog’s Life – also loved The Hotel Pastis. Mayle is such an easy writer…

  • Cyndi says:

    Loved Ya-Ya Sisterhood (never saw the movie). Little Altars Everywhere (by Rebecca Wells) is also good. Here are a few from my most-memorable list…not really light summer reading, but all worth the time.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    Ellen Foster – Kaye Gibbons
    Old Dogs and Children – Robert Inman
    The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
    The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
    The Cider House Rules – John Irving
    Skinny Legs and All – Tom Robbins
    Cowboys Are My Weakness – by Pam Houston
    Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
    Raney – Clyde Edgerton

    PS — Found you from my friend at, who posted your letter to Naomi Wolf on FB. That was some good stuff.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Thank you, Cyndi – these are great ideas!!! I’ve read some…but not all. Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my all time favorite books.

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