2016 Summer Book Fun
2016 Summer Book Selections
Here is an eclectic list of books with brief overviews for your summer 2016 reading pleasure … Okay … your fall and early winter pleasure as well.
List compiled by a writer friend. She reaches out to her friends to compile her 2016 Summer Book list – and I added three … can you guess which ones they are? If you get it correct (the three are listed together) I’ll gift you a 30 minute free discovery call on the topic of mapping legacy. A hint … the number beside one of the books adds to 8 – that is #+# = 8
- Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven by Ross King is a great book about the artistic movement in Canada is the early 1900s. I live in Tom Thomson country so it was very revealing of the life and times of this artist and his colleagues.
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This is a first novel by this author. I enjoyed it because I liked her style of writing and wondered if I could do as good a job someday. She has very likeable, real characters, and others who are unlikeable. She crosses cultures as well. A light summer read….a mature romance, but not a fairy tale.
- Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. A man goes on a cross country road trip, and finds himself somewhat reluctantly agreeing to take along an elderly Mongolian monk as his travelling companion. This fictional story unfolds with humorous and thought provoking moments, as a unique friendship forms between the two travelers, who find themselves examining the meaning life, death, and the pleasures of enjoying a really good meal!
- Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. This is an autobiographical account of how the author, who grew up a devout Muslim, comes (reluctantly) to faith in Christ. It offers the best account I’ve read of what it is like to grow up in a loving home, embracing Islam, but also is a fascinating look at Islamic vs Christian apologetics. I couldn’t put it down, not only because Nabeel is an articulate and thoughtful writer, but because his personal story is so fascinating.
- The Widow by Fiona Barton. It is a mystery with interaction between a policeman, a reporter and a widow.
- Dog Medicine by Julie Barton. This was originally self-published, then got picked up by Penguin. It was not a surprise that it was picked up, because it is a fine piece of writing. It is memoir-type work (depression is the subject). I found it fascinating.
- In One End and Out The Other by Andrea K. Thatcher. “There are no such things as treats, only food,” she says and advocates never dieting again. There’s even a chapter on poop. And it’s five bucks for a download.
- I chose to read some children’s classics (The Velveteen Rabbit, for example). I found those books and their messages of love touched me and helped me relax.
- Those Girls by Canadian author, Chevy Stevens. The plot starts out in Alberta and then over to BC and is about 3 sisters who live with an abusive father. After dealing with this, they choose to move and are faced with very challenging situations along the way. Very graphic and frightening, at times.
- She’s Not There by Joy Fielding. Plot is similar to a situation a few years ago. While at a resort, a couple left their young child in their hotel room (the couple went out for supper) and the child was abducted. Easy read, with lots of unexpected turns and twists.
- The Things We Keep by Sally Hepsworth. Novel about a 39 year old woman, inflicted with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The story goes back and forth between when this woman was first placed in Supportive Living and the present. Other character development includes the cook/chef hired at the residence, the main character’s brother and some of the residents. Easy read.
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Emotionally gripping. Story is about a Chinese American family living in small town Ohio. The favourite child, Lydia, goes missing. The characters are well developed, with intricate family dynamics. Story includes grief, teens with unheard issues (by parents/adults), traditional gender specific roles, suicide and suspense. Hard to put down.
- Cross My Heart by James Patterson (read first). This is about Alex Cross and the kidnapping of his family. Then read Hope to Die; this has to do with how he solved the problem. Patterson captures your attention from the get go.
- Sandra Brown’s books. Smoke Screen: a newswoman wakes up to a dead detective, and doesn’t remember how she got there. Ricochet: an influential judge’s wife kills a burglar claiming self-defense, but was it really? The Witness: Kendall Deaton pulls herself and her baby out of a wrecked car, but she doesn’t dare reveal her true identity. There are a lot of secrets in this small town. Lethal: a daughter calls out to her mom to come see a sick man who is lying in their front yard who really is running away from a murder he witnessed. Who is safe with him? Brown is easy to read and her books are hard to put down.
- Creating A World that Works by Alan Seale. I recommend this book because it shifts thinking from living in a complicated world to living in a complex world — quite different in that traditional black and white problem solving doesn’t work anymore. Also it is packed with very practical tools, helping you live into purpose and being (versus tasks and doing) and tapping into the wisdom of our three intelligence systems — head, heart and gut.
- The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante. The English translation of book two in the Neapolitan Quartet. My fav in this Italian series of four novels. Two friends, girls, come of age in a poor neighbourhood of Naples mid-twentieth century. Complex characterization makes other fiction seem too tidy.
- Folly by Laurie R King. I read this book and immediately was impressed as I related to it on many levels. It is a story of a woman who has suffered great loss, a nervous breakdown, attempted rape, and depression. But, she is a survivor. She is dropped off on an island (Folly) where she learns to deal with her paranoia and fears. The history of the island becomes a mission for her. She also learns more about her family history. All in all, this obscure book is worth a read.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It is fast paced, suspenseful, smart and hard to put down. It takes you away into a whole different world. Warning: it’s a thick book. Also a trilogy.
- When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Mate. A very interesting read about how stress affects us and how we can reframe our thinking. Lots of personal stories. A really eye-opening book. It would be a very important read for those who were battling serious or chronic illness.
- Rawlicious at Home: More Than 100 Raw, Vegan and Gluten-Free Recipes to Make You Feel Great. I love the recipes in this book. A good opportunity to try introducing more raw healthy food into your diet. Recipes (and beautiful pictures for each) from a Canadian restaurant chain. One of my favourite cookbooks.
- Koko – the Adventures of a Little Blue Horse by Adeline Halvorson and illustrated by Fabienne Leydecker. A fun little story with a positive message about being yourself –for reading to children or for early readers. Also, H is for Horse by Adeline Halvorson. An alphabet book featuring fine art horse paintings and a light hearted rhyming verse.
- They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson. This is a memoir written by a daughter coming to terms with her parents’ difficult relationship after the death of her mother. The family home was lived in for many decades and the siblings must decide, at their “siblings dinners,” what to keep, give away or sell as well as what to do with the family home.
- Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon. This is a revealing book about Carly’s battle to overcome stuttering as well as her tumultuous relationship and marriage to James Taylor.
- 419 by Will Ferguson. A Calgary man gets caught by a Nigerian internet scam. Compassionate and compelling, the story follows his family and the scammer, as well as the lives of two young Nigerians. The book increased my understanding about the effects of exploitation of oil resources.
- The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh. With a backdrop of the last century in Burma and Malaya, and the extraction of teak and rubber resources, this is the story of a poor boy and a servant girl to the royal household whose lives are upended by the British invasion. It’s a very touching, multigenerational novel.
- Gut by Giuliani Enders. This book is charming and informative. It’s the inside story of how the digestive system works, complete with cartoon-like illustrations.
- Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman. Lippman is one of my favourite authors. She is a beautiful narrator. This book goes back and forth between the present day and the past and there are some surprising plot elements.
- The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon. This is a unique tale involving a crime where the entire community is implicated. Cannon is both serious and humorous in this unusual book.
- The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay. In the 1860’s, Emperor Napoleon III’s grand view of modernizing Paris destroys blocks of homes & businesses, many inhabited by generations. One woman, Rose Bazelet, holds out till the bitter end as she writes letters to her beloved, late husband, Armand, from the basement as the wrecking crew surrounds her home.
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. This book, a story about a sacred friendship spanning the lives of two females in 19th-century China, was an immersive experience. The chapter in which the narrator goes through the foot binding process was so well-written that my stomach turned.
- Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China by Peter Hessler. This book had me spell bound from cover to cover. China is vast and changing so rapidly, it seems impossible to know where to begin, but this book was a great place to start. The author worked and lived there for a number of years. His insights into the land, the people(s), the history and the language(s) were impressive. As I read the book, I felt like I was living there.
- The Wizard of Oz – The Official 75th Anniversary Companion by Jay Scarfone and William Stillman. If you are a fan of this classic film from 1939, you will love this book. It is filled with trivia about the film, its production and the actors – before and after the production. Case in point: did you know that in the book (written in 1900 by Frank Baum), Dorothy’s slippers were silver in colour? For the film they changed them to ruby to take advantage of cinematic technology.
- A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. This is a gripping, ghost story by the author of the classic book, The Art of Racing in the Rain.
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. The author/professor says the key to success isn’t talent, it is grit.
- The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo. This communications coach suggests unlearning traditional ways of sharing information and engaging in storytelling. The “secret” is what the storyteller learns in doing so.
- Presence by Amy Cuddy. Cuddy is a Harvard researcher and professor. This book offers proof and advice about how to use the body-mind connection to overcome difficult situations and to become successful.
- The Cartel by Don Wislow. It’s a novel based on facts about what is going on in Mexico as drug cartels fight with each other to gain control of the drug trade. It’s shocking and violent but you can’t put it down!
- Sparta by Roxana Robinson. A fictional account of a Marine’s agonizing psychological experiences when attempting to reenter American society after deployment from Iraq. I’ve always wondered what soldiers go through in this situation and I think this book illuminates their internal experiences vividly. An unsettling read.
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I suspect this isn’t a very original choice, as it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2015. But I thought I’d recommend it anyway, as I could not put it down. The intertwined stories of a blind girl in France and an orphaned boy in Germany during the Second World War are told with such detail and compassion. Most of the chapters are very short, and I kept telling myself, “Just one or two before bed”….and then I would read half a dozen, at least.
- Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden. A great insight into dealing with and compromising one’s cultural identity and handling the pressures.
- This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! By Jonathon Evison. A look back in the life of a 79-year-old woman who ventures out on her own on a cruise and between the imagined appearance of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life.
- Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz. A great tale of intrigue and incredible suspense with a completely shocking ending following the aftermath of the demise of Sherlock Holmes and his “last” battle with his nemesis, James Moriarty.
- Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters by John Steinbeck. From the jacket: “Each working day from January 29 to November 1, 1951, John Steinbeck warmed up to the work of writing East of Eden with a letter to his friend and editor at Viking Press, Pascal Covici. It was his way, he said, of “getting my mental arm in shape to pitch a good game.” Steinbeck’s letters were written on the left-had pages of a notebook in which the facing pages would be filled with the test of East of Eden. Part biography, part writer’s workshop, these letters offer an illuminating perspective on Steinbeck’s creative process, and a fascinating glimpse of Steinbeck, the private man.” If you have read East of Eden then reading this companion to that text will deepen your appreciation for this writer, and this man. Often writing during manic phases of his life, Steinbeck’s body of work, and his impact upon contemporary understanding of social-historical life, has few rivals. Well worth the read.
- Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig. The author died four months before this novel was published. In 1951, Donal, an 11-year-old boy, lives with his grandmother in the Montana Rockies. His grandmother has to have surgery so she sends him by bus to stay with her sister in Wisconsin until she has recovered. Donal has lots of adventures (or misadventures) along the way. I love Doig’s writing; very sad that this is the end of his work.
- The Illegal by Lawrence Hill. It’s been a while since I read this and it didn’t compare to his Book of Negros but then it was a different book. I appreciated the main character’s commitment to run, to honour his family, to save his sister and not let disappointments in his life fracture his integrity.
- Room by Emma Donoghue. This book was about hope and resourcefulness, believing in what may have seemed impossible and never giving up in the attempt.
- 15 Dogs by Andre Alexis. The author is the father of our friend’s granddaughter. When he was out for Wordfest, we listened to him read from his book and then we found out that he was nominated for the Giller Prize, so he autographed his book and off we went to read it. He thinks way outside the box, and it was interesting how he wove the story of the challenge between Greek gods to create his story. He humanizes the dogs and it is fascinating how they resemble personalities of people you may know and how they go through their life of loving, caring, and psychologically managing their existences. Once I read it I couldn’t look at a person without relating them to a dog, and to see a dog I was trying to match them to someone in Andre’s book. A most interesting read. Andre won the Giller Prize and we were thrilled for him.
- The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg. It is a novel, but written as if George Sand were writing her autobiography. Very interesting.
- A Common Struggle by Patrick Kennedy. This book, written by the youngest child of Senator Edward Kennedy, is about his personal struggle with mental health issues and addiction. An excellent read emphasizing the importance of recognizing mental health as a medical issue (rather than a character flaw), similar to physical health.
- The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin. This is the story of a young woman, Mia aka Rabbit, and the last days of her life. She is full of grace, determined and still fighting on her terms with her illness. And most of all, she is still living as she is dying. This story will bring many emotions to you.
- Fast Girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton. Non-fiction. A three time Olympic long distance runner retires from competition and is lured into the glitz of Las Vegas and the escort business where she becomes the number 2 rated escort. Soon after, her life begins to unravel at which time she is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Of interest to anyone dealing with mental disorders, in particular bipolar.
Hope you enjoy your 2016 summer book selections …
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