Things to Read - Summer Reading

It's that time again - time to lay on a blanket and read fun, interesting (usually not too serious) books. Lots of them. I love summer.

Here's What I've been reading:

Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

I first read Danielle Evans when her short story, Virgins, appeared in The Best American Short Stories 2008. I remember thinking that it was one of the best pieces of fiction I'd ever read (if you're curious, an excerpt is available here) and googling her like crazy trying to read more of her writing. Unfortunately, there wasn't much out there. But I kept up my search. Finally, last year, Evans published a short story collection - Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self and it makes for some really enjoyable reading (though I still think Virgins is the best story in the book). Most of the stories focus on ways in which children and young adults enter a grown-up world. The story Snakes especially stuck with me - it tells the tale of how two young cousins, left by their parents to spend the summer with their grandma, navigate the world between responsibility and fantasy (with disastrous consequences). I especially found these stories interesting to read from a parenting perspective, in that they made me contemplate how adult decisions can impact children's lives, in ways that I hadn't necessarily thought of before.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun

This book was on my Amazon wishlist for about a year before I finally bought and read it. I worried that the book would be too cheesy or preachy or both, but I ended up really liking it. Rubin was a lawyer before she became a writer (she clerked for O'Connor) and she has young children, so I felt like I could relate to her (except I didn't go to Yale or clerk on the Supreme Court). And the book motivated me to try to find little pockets of happiness throughout the day - nothing drastic, just small moves towards a better you. I especially enjoyed Rubin's quest to stay true to herself (her motto is "Be Gretchen") while a at the same time open herself up to new experiences and possibilities. Now I'm thinking of trying something similar myself.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain

I read Portia de Rossi's Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain for bookclub and I never would have picked it up on my own. The idea of reading about a TV star's struggles with anorexia did not appeal to me (I seem to have the opposite of anorexia in that I continually - and against all logic - refuse to accept that food causes weight gain). But it ended up being the best book I've read in months. I couldn't put it down (I finished it in one day, albeit a lazy day). When de Rossi's weight dipped to the low 80s I really thought she would die (as did most of her family), despite the fact that I read US Magazine and I know that she's alive. Anyways, the story of how someone can slowly slip from yo-you dieting to forgoing toothpaste (she didn't want to risk the extra calories) was fascinating, very similar to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. And at the end when she talks about finding Ellen (DeGeneres) and falling in love, I cried. Then I saw recent pictures of LeAnn Rimes in US Magazine and I cried more. Then I ate potatoes and felt incredibly grateful for the fact that I'm loved, just as I am (thank you, Dan).

Here are some suggestions from around the web:

*Daily Candy has a (hopefully) great list, that includes Karen Russell's Swamplandia!. According to Daily Candy, "Who can resist a coming-of-age swamp saga with an alligator-wrestling heroine trying to save her family’s decaying South Florida theme park? Not us. Karen Russell’s debut novel will first drop your jaw and then break your heart. Insect repellent suggested." I liked (though didn't love) Russell's short story book, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries), so I'm curious about her novel.

*My beach read suggestions from last summer.

*The Mad Men Reading list - this is awesome!! Who knew that Betty Draper read F. Scott Fitzgerald's Diamond as Big as the Ritz? And Peggy read Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence - Restored Modern Edition?

*Esquire magazine has a list of 75 Books Every Man Should Read (WTF? Because men need their own literature list? Why doesn't anyone ever have a list of 75 Books All Females Should Read? Besides Glamour or something else equally appalling). Anyways, despite the sexist title it's a really great list, which includes - Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories (one of my favorite books ever), Tropic of Cancer, and Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel.

*Bob Mould just wrote an autobiography, I can't wait to read it and remember high school and Sugar concerts.

*Flavorwire's Contemporary Short Novels for Your Summer Reading Pleasure - I'd never even heard of any of the books on this list, which makes me REALLY want to read some of them. Flavorwire also lists "A Collection of Wonderful Books By Morally Questionable People", which includes V.S. Naipaul's A House for Mr. Biswas (one of my favorite books ever).

*This book on growing up in a homesteading family sounds really good. As does this book on living simply (and eating well). For more books on eating "real food" and living a farm life, Farmbrarian always has great suggetions.

*"Modern fictional awesomeness" book recommendations.

*Oprah's List of 20 Books for the Armchair Traveler (Yay! Life of Pi)

*The 100 Greatest Nonfiction Books

*Budget Travel's 25 Greatest Travel Books of All Time - I know I'm supposed to grow out of it, but I still love On the Road (Penguin Classics) and I also really like Into the Wild.


  1. Thanks for the great suggestions/recommendations!!

  2. Thank you for the recommendations! Your suggestions are always great. I'm amazed at how much you must read - it takes me forever to get through books these days.

    Also, thanks for the KFDC shout-out. :) Have a great wknd!



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