As we mourn the end of summer, I recap my favorite reads. There weren’t any amazing selections like The Nightingale this year, but there were some good choices. Here are the 4.5 star books. Sadly, there were no 5s this summer.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata was recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy. It’s a tiny volume and a very quick read. And, it was a complete delight. It’s the story of a woman who has made a career out of being a convenience store worker. Spare in style, but thoughtful and deep, it’s a great choice for an in-between-longer-choices break.
I’m not sure how Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen ended up on my “to be read” list, but I’m glad it did. It’s a great story of a widow and widower who find each other after rather ridiculous circumstances and heal together. While it had a slow start, it was worth sticking with it. A delightful story, clever, and sweet.
Looking for a great end-of-summer-fast-guilty-pleasure? Ghosted by Rosie Walsh is it. It felt like Bridget Jones Diary, the Rosie Project and other similar chick lit pieces. And, at the same time, it was a surprise, unexpected, flip-the-story-on-its-head, light, and fun. The mystery kept me going and made it a very quick read that was hard to put down (and made me stay up late). I highly recommend you grab this one!
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer was, as you might expect, a depressing and alarming read. I like Krakauer’s style, even though I don’t usually read much non-fiction. And, if you are looking for more knowledge about college/date rape, read this one. It’s interesting on a legal front and controversial. I found it eye-opening.
I’m not sure how The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah ended up on my list, but I am glad it did. It’s the story of Kate, a sommelier who is studying for the Master of Wine exam and who travels back to France to study and help her cousin clean out the basement of their family estate/vineyard. In the cleaning, they discover secrets about their family and Kate’s life takes an unexpected turn. Alternate chapters are the journal entries of one of Kate’s family members from WWII. This is a good story, though a little slow. I really enjoyed the last 100 pages and would recommend it as a good summer choice.
Clock Dance was another summer disappointment. I used to love Anne Tyler, and fondly remember reading her early works. This quiet story, however, didn’t do it for me. The only thing I liked about the book was the last paragraph where there was finally hope for the main character. She was so depressing otherwise (which was the point, of course). Willa answered the call of the neighbor of her son’s ex-girlfriend. The ex had been accidentally shot and was in the hospital, so Willa flew out to Baltimore to take care of the ex’s daughter even though the daughter was not Willa’s granddaughter. There’s not much to the story and it’s not poorly told, it’s just listless and a bit boring. I’d give this one a skip if I were you. Hopefully, my next read will be more enjoyable.
I could not put down Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage. In fact, I talked it up endlessly to our vacation hosts and passed it along before we left. Hanna hates her mom and wants to kill her. She is selectively mute except when she plays the part of a woman who was burned at the stake as a witch. Things escalate and you can’t wait to find out what happens. This is a great thriller – I’d grab it before you head to the beach or on your last hurrah vacation.
I was disappointed in Anthony Horowitz’s The Word is Murder. I’ve seen it everywhere and heard it was a great mystery. The premise is great. The author plays himself (a writer, most particularly of Foyle’s War, which I discovered this summer) who ends up helping with a murder investigation. Interestingly, the woman who was murdered had walked into a funeral home on the day of her death to plan her funeral. This book was too long and too full of in-fighting between the narrator and his investigator accomplice. I don’t usually grab mysteries and was hopeful for this one, but if I were you, I’d give it a pass.
I had a pile of books that needed reading before they were due back to the library and I plowed through them. Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman was one of these. I had enjoyed her Garden of Small Beginnings (reviewed here). Other People’s Houses was OK – it’s the story of a neighborhood and the families and children therein, but mostly the story of the relationships (mostly flawed) between the adults. It felt much like Big Little Lies. One bothersome things about this story was that for the longest time, I couldn’t figure out where it took place. Turns out it was LA, but the author referenced a few things that sounded British, like the High Street, which was bothersome to me. Overall, this one was fine, but nothing to write home about.