Small Talk

Start your summers — Now

I’m still behaving myself and shutting out my bedside light by 10 p.m. latest, but the rest of you are invited to start your summers now. 

That means you get to pick at least one night a week when you read until 2 a.m. and hate yourself in the morning. Or, if you are among the lucky ones who actually get some time off and can sleep in, just indulge.

And, of course, if you need them, I have a lovely, long list of books to recommend.

My list this summer is longer than usual because my husband surprised me with an e-book reader. It is so easy to buy another book the instant you finish one, I have racked up quite a list.

For your “set-in-the-South” fix, consider “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom, “The Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner-Divorce Guide” by Jill Connor Browne, “The Dry Grass of Summer” by Anna Jean Mayhew, “Catfish Alley” by Lynne Bryant, “Between Georgia” by Joshilyn Jackson, “Georgia Bottoms” and “One Mississippi” by Mark Childress, “Rush Home Road” by Lori Lansens, “The Peach Keeper” and “The Girl who Chased the Moon” by Sarah Addison Allen and “Gone with a Handsomer Man,” by Michael Lee West.

One of life’s greatest delights for me is to love a book and then find out it has sequels.

I stumbled onto author Shayne Parkinson with his fascinating historical fiction set in New Zealand, starting with “Promises to Keep,” then “Sentence of Marriage,” “Mud and Gold” and “Settling Accounts.”

Another wonderful read was “The Tea Rose,” by Jennifer Donnelly. Beginning in London in the 1800s, the book is packed with brilliant characters and settings. For those who love mysteries set in England, I discovered the Maise Dobbs series. I have only read three but look forward to several more. I also chuckled my way through “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie,” by Alan Bradley, starring 11-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce.

For some really gripping historical fiction, I suggest “The Dovekeepers.” It begins in the deserts of the Mideast and revolves around the fortress of Masada.

Finally, the closest thing to nonfiction you’re likely to see me tackle, is the latest by the amazing writer Anne Lamott. This one, “Some Assembly Required” tells the complicated story of the arrival of her grandson and puts you right there beside her, as usual.

And remember the rules. If you read all night, you are permitted a nap. Don’t you love summer?



Shayne Parkinson June 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Jean, how wonderful to find my name in such fine company! Thank you so much.

Two little things: I’m actually a “she”, despite my odd name. And “Sentence of Marriage” is the first book in the series.

Enjoy your summer! It’s wintry here on the upside-down of the world, and time to curl up by the fire with a good book.

A. J. Mayhew June 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Thank you!! for mentioning my novel, but the correct title is THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST (not SUMMER). I am delighted that my book has made it to California!!

A. J. Mayhew, author of THE DRY GRASS OF AUGUST

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