My summer stack of great reads

I’m very pleased the sun deigned to come out, if briefly, as I love reading on warm summer nights. But I must admit the weeks of gray drizzle had one upside. Once my house was clean, I figured there was nothing else to do but curl up and read. Do we see a pattern here? Hey, at least the house got vacuumed.
And what have I been reading? I’m so glad you asked, although right now it’s as much about what I want to read as about what I have recently read.
My lovely, literate friend in Atlanta continues to tempt me with lists of books set in the soothing South. Titles my Georgia-dwelling chum has suggested most recently include, “The Girl Who Stopped Swimming” by Joshilyn Jackson. I stumbled onto Jackson’s first book “Gods in Alabama” which was quirky with great characters, so I am intrigued by this newest one. The “must-read” list she sent also included, “Fireworks Over Toccoa” by Jeffrey Stepakoff and “Driftwood Summer” by Patti Callahan Henry. I read and really enjoyed Henry’s “Between the Tides.”
In that genre, I just finished my second book by author Cassandra King, “The Queen of Broken Hearts.” Last year I read her “The Same Sweet Girls.” These are both light reads with lots of emphasis on girlfriends of longstanding, relationships and juicy, small Southern town gossip.
Far from the South, I just spent all one morning finishing “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Yes, it finally did get riveting but it took its sweet time, and I couldn’t get over
the author’s constant Scandinavian brand placement.
They never just went for coffee. They went for coffee at this place in this section of this city. Maybe he’s got a deal with the local chamber of commerce. Mystery fans love the book. Parts were glorious but, for my summer mood, it was a bit grisly.
As always, this time of year, I’ve managed to read a few of the novels from the shelves of my elementary school fiction section. I always find several that make short but excellent adult reading. The best is “Brooklyn Bridge” by one of my favorite authors, Karen Hesse. It tells an extraordinary story based on a Russian immigrant family, the invention of the Teddy Bear and the opening of Coney Island, all with a parallel narrative on abandoned children who live beneath the Brooklyn Bridge.
I haven’t read everything by her, but also loved “Stowaway,” a novel about the actual ship Endeavour, based on diaries of Capt. Cook, and “The Music of Dolphins” in which a toddler is raised by dolphins, then found by humans. It is a fascinating premise.
As I pulled old, beaten paperbacks from the library shelves, I came across a classic called “The Search for Grissi” by Mary Francis Shura. It turned out to be a wonderful story about a brother and sister new in school and a cat that adopts their family and connects them to their entire neighborhood. Another tattered paperback surprise was a series based on a young boy nicknamed “Soup” by Robert Newton Peck. Set in Vermont, the tales of this young mischief-maker and his buddy Rob are set in the 1930s but were written in the mid 1970s and may have been the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” of their day.
Which brings to mind another children’s author I enjoy, Richard Peck. His two books, “A Long Way From Chicago” with its sequel “ A Year down Yonder” will delight both you and your children.
Hot on the heels of Bastille Day, let me raise my baguette et fromage and simply say, “Bonne lecture.”


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