This summer I’ve gobbled up so many beautiful books:
Here’s a list, probably not complete, though these have had a profound effect on me as a human being and as a writer.
ON THE COME UP, by Angie Thomas. I listened to this one, just as I listened to her audiobook of THE HATE U GIVE earlier in the year. I chose to listen to the audiobook because of the narrator Bahni Turpin whose sweet, sympathetic voice made the main character Bri come to life.
A VIRTUOUS RUBY, by Piper Huguley. Historical fiction lets me time travel to see how the world operated in the last decade or the last century. Piper’s story of midwife Ruby Bledsoe in a judgmental, bigoted town is hard sometimes but ultimately rewarding. I had to love Ruby.
THE KENNEDY DEBUTANTE, by Kerri Maher. I’m a big Kennedy fan but I didn’t know anything about Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy and her love story in the days before and during World War II. At times fun, at times so sad, this was a real page-turner.
LILAC GIRLS, by Martha Hall Kelly. World War II books are big this summer. This is a really unusual one with three women’s stories that ultimately come together, though not how I expected. One is a New York socialite intent on helping French orphans. One is a Polish girl imprisoned in a Nazi death camp. The third is a Nazi doctor who coldly rationalizes her work in that camp. The title made no sense until the very end but whoa is it worth a read.
CLOCK DANCE, by Anne Tyler. I like the books by this Baltimore author. Loved ACCIDENTAL TOURIST more than her other books but this one may now be my favorite. It takes place in 1967, 1977, 1997 and 2017, chronicling the defining moments of a young girl’s life. In the end, though, she has to decide for herself—not let others decide—what’s best for her. Loved it all the way to the end.
THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING, by James Patterson and Bill Clinton. I don’t read thrillers very often but this one was fun in a terrifying sort of way. Sometimes, it seems, even the president of the United States doesn’t know who he or she can trust. I liked all the women in President Duncan’s cabinet, too.
ARTEMIS, by Andy Weir. I loved THE MARTIAN so I had to read this story of a young woman living on the moon who gets by any way she can. Jasmine gets involved in a heist that could get her thrown off the moon.
RIBBONS OF SCARLET, a novel of the women of the French Revolution by some of my favorite Maryland-based authors, including E. Knight, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. I have the advance reader’s edition since the book isn’t to be released until October. Each author wrote about a different character, a beauty, an assassin, a princess and more, which offers a richly told story of a tumultuous time.
THE SCRIBE OF SIENA, by Melodie Winawer. Real Simple said “Like Outlander with an Italian accent.” Yes it is but no it isn’t. New Yorker Beatrice goes to Siena where her brother has died and falls into a wonderful story from the Middle Ages. This is Melodie’s first novel; can’t wait for her next.
BALM, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. A story of hope for African-Americans in the days right after the Civil War, focusing on a healer named Madge and a former slave named Hemp looking for his wife. This book is magic.
MEET ME IN MONACO, by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb. What’s not to like. Set in the French Riviera with charming appearances by Grace Kelly, it’s the story a young woman keeping her perfume company afloat and the photographer she hardly wants to tolerate. At first.
BORN A CRIME, by Trevor Noah. Since I was headed to South Africa this summer, I had to read this. It’s funny, sharp and heart wrenching by turns. A good introduction to the country. I’ll read Nelson Mandela’s memoirs now that I’ve seen his jail cell on Robben Island.
Finally, I just finished Kristin Hannah’s THE GREAT ALONE, a strange book to read in summer since it’s set in Alaska at a time when residents spent all summer laboring to be ready for the coming winter. But I loved it so much I had to write the author and thank her for writing such a thought-provoking, emotionally-powerful book. I got caught up in every terrible or wonderful moment, feeling Leni’s loneliness, her mother’s helplessness, her father’s anger, and Matthew’s love. And when I was done I realized how “two peas in a pod” kept each pair from being alone.
A baker’s dozen that doesn’t include the books I haven’t yet finished.
So tell me, have you read any of these? Are there books you’d recommend for my fall reading? I’m always looking for something new—and obviously, from just about any genre.