Summer time is for relaxing and reading. At the beach under an umbrella (I burn easily), by a pool (again, an umbrella), in the hammock - all lovely reading locations. Of course, I also read in several less lovely spaces like in my car waiting for my kids' piano lessons to end or while I'm waiting for dinner to cook on the grill.
This summer I got through quite a few. Some have been on my to read list for a while, some were books suggested to me, a few were re-reads, a couple were books my daughter has on her reading list for this school year so I wanted to have read them first, and a couple were just happy surprises. Here is my list and a short review on each.
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
This was my first read of the summer and it was a little serendipitous. I directed The Tempest for Shakespeare in the park in June and while in the library wandering, I came across the Margaret Atwood books. I have read most of her books but for some reason had missed this one. Its one of those situations where I am unable to tell if this was a really good book or if it just hit me at the exact right time. I was all immersed in The Tempest at the time and this book is a modern retelling of the story complete with a director who is putting up a production of The Tempest. A very good read, but if you are not familiar with Shakespeare's play, I would at least read the handy synopsis provided at the end of this book. Otherwise, it may be a bit bewildering.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I sort of cannot believe I have gotten to this point in my life without having read this book. I remember friends in high school going on and on about how this was so important. I read this more as a gotta-fill-in-my-book-knowledge than a really wanting to read. It was good, I'm glad I had read it. I did find it interesting how modern it felt as I was reading it. While I appreciate the cultural significance of this book, I am fairly sure I won't ever re-read this one.
On Writing by Stephen King
I have been toying with the idea of writing a children's book and this book kept coming up as a great one if you want to write. Here is the thing, it is a good read even if you don't want to write. It is sort of half memoir of events in Stephen King's life that resulted in him being the writer that he is and half more of a how-to on writing. I found it fascinating- both his life and the writing information. I also didn't know much about Stephen King. I have read some of his books but not the majority of them and this gave me some insight into his life and his process when I later in the summer read Dr. Sleep.
Animal Farm by George Orwell
This one was a re-read because I wanted to see if I should assign it to either of my kids yet to read for school. If you haven't read it, make the time to do it, it is short and everyone should read this one. Its a little terrifying, little bit of a downer but, oh, the cultural references you will need to live in the world.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
My husband was reading this book and told me I should read it so, especially since I had recently read On Writing, I gave it a go. This is the story of Danny from The Shining when he grows up. I had never read The Shining, but I have seen the movie several times and I actually now want to read it to check out any differences. This book was quite good. A fast paced and good story. After reading On Writing, I was looking for any adverbs that he had left in his writing, I kept watching how his dialog works, and also his vivid descriptions of being an alcoholic, which made much more sense after reading his memoir. Anyway, good read if you don't mind a bit of supernatural shining stuff going on in your books.
Educated by Tara Westover
This book was recommended to me by a friend when we were talking about homeschooling. The story in this book is in general the opposite of any homeschooling my kids have ever experienced. But this book is pretty amazing. I know it is making the rounds as really popular in book clubs but I'm not in a book club and sometimes out of the popular culture loop. I checked it out from the library and had to wait forever on the hold list to get it. This is the story of a woman who grew up in a survivalist, very religious Mormon family. She never attended formal school until she went to college (including getting a PhD), never went to a doctor even when majorly injured, didn't even know exactly which day she was born because she and several of her siblings didn't have birth certificates, but that doesn't even begin to explain this woman's life. There is a lot of abuse and horrible things that she has to tell, but the story of her survival and her triumph over her circumstances is just unreal. This will make you think about education and about resiliency and just how incredibly smart this woman is to rise above this sort of past.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Another re-read, again to decide if my kids were ready to have this book assigned to them for school. Good stuff, the copy I had even has an introduction by Neil Gaiman, which come to think of it, I can't believe I didn't read any Neil Gaiman this summer! But, I like this one. It made me want to watch the movie again.
Captive Queen by Alison Weir
My daughter is working on a project for history here at the beginning of the school year on Eleanor of Aquitaine so I decided to read this slightly sexed up version of her life. Now, Allison Weir is an actual historian, in fact, I have ordered her biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, but she is also a novelist and her stories are fun page-turners. And plus, I got all the basics of her life down before my daughter and I start studying the historical things that are known about the woman. By the way, she was pretty cool. If you want a good book with quite a bit of historical fact thrown in as well, read of Ms. Weir's historical fictions.
The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly
This last book of my summer reading was for my daughter's schooling this year, so this is a kids' book. This is on her list for 6th grade so I am trying to get ahead of her to read everything I haven't read before she has it as an assignment. It was fun, again a good dose of history thrown in and a bit of a snapshot of everyday life in the middle ages.
How is the summer over already? I'm not really sure how that went by so quickly but here we are starting into September.