There’s something very right about marathon reading in the summer. I love Netflix as much as the next person (my re-watch of 30 Rock just wrapped up, and I’m currently devouring Scandal), but summer+books is one of Heaven’s most perfect match-ups.
I think I purchased more physical books in May/June than I have in a long time, and, thanks to an excellent yard sale Saturday and an unearthed Barnes & Noble gift card, I even pulled it off for fairly cheap. And from that new collection, I made my way through six new reads.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
- Dark Places is much shorter than Flynn’s Gone Girl (which I read back in January), but it packs just as much of a punch. In 1985, Libby Day’s mother and sisters were murdered in what became known nationwide as “The Satan Sacrifice” of Kinnakee, Kansas. Libby was seven, and testified that her older brother was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Libby has been contacted by members of the “Kill Club,” a group of conspiracy theorists obsessed with famous violent crimes, who want her to provide information to clear Ben’s name. The novel’s chapters alternate between 1985 and the book’s present as Libby begins to piece together the truth behind that hideous night. I know, it’s a lot to take in, but this book is completely worth your time. Flynn’s trademark plot twists serve the mystery well, and your nerves will be really and truly frayed long after you’ve closed the cover. A fantastic read if you’re looking for a good murder mystery. A note: just like with Gone Girl, Dark Places contains a fair bit of adult language. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp
- Previously written about [here]. Please go read this book ASAP. It’s so incredibly good.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan
- Also written about previously, [here]. If you live in the Bham area, I’d love to lend this book to you. It’s a great summer vacation read.
The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman
- “One of the most acclaimed books of the year, Tim Rachman’s debut novel follows the topsy-turvy private lives of the reporters and editors of an English-language newspaper in Rome.” That back cover blurb was all it took for me to snatch this tome up from the yard sale bin in which I found it. I mean, $1 for a book that involves journalism, Europe, and the word ‘topsy-turvy?’ It was basically a perfect recipe for summertime book enjoyment (at least for me). It had one of the more interesting plot structures I’ve encountered, each chapter focusing on a different member of the news team (and a reader, in one case), with a small background information chapter about the founding of the newspaper in between. There wasn’t necessarily a larger plot throughout the novel; rather, it worked more as a collection of stories from people whose lives the newspaper affected. Definitely an interesting way to read a book. I’m not going to say everyone needs to read it, but I’d be happy to lend it to you if you think it might pique your interest.
Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
- FINALLY! I’ve been working on this book since March, and I’m so happy to finally be done. Yes, this is the book the world-famous musical is based on, but they are very different. I haven’t seen the musical (though I know the music by heart), but even I can tell you that only the bare essentials are the same between the two. That’s not a bad thing. They service two very different audiences, and they do their jobs well. The novel is darker, more complicated, and way more detailed. There were portions that I sped through, and others that bogged me down (hence the months it took me to finish). It focuses wholly on the Witch and her story, with Glinda and Fiyero working more as plot devices than the fleshed-out characters of the musical. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t make too much of an effort to read the sequels.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo [recommended by Kevin]
- Yes, this a children’s book. But its a darn good children’s book, y’all. Written by the same author who gave us The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn-Dixie (yes, the one you read in elementary school), it’s the story of a china rabbit named Edward who is owned by a little girl named Abilene until he is one day lost. On his journey back home, he encounters a host of interesting characters who teach him the value of being loved and loving in return. It’s a sweet story (though obviously very simple), and I’m very pleased to have read it.
I didn’t re-read anything the past two months, which is a bit of a departure from my norm, but my Netflix binges are probably to blame. Up next on the literary docket are Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (whose cover design is stellar, btw), so here’s looking at July! As always, suggestions are more than welcome, so send ’em on!
Happy summer, everyone!