Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Top 5: Summer Reading Suggestions

I LOVE to read. If there's anything I wish it's that I wish I had more time to do, it's read and read and read. I have always enjoyed burying myself in a book for as long as I can remember - which isn't surprising considering I learned to read at a very young age. It would drive my mom nuts sometimes when I was a kid because on a summer day I would often rather be curled up in a chair in front of a window with a book and the summer breeze than outside playing in the park. And - since today is the first day of summer, I thought it would be appropriate to throw some suggestions for summer reading out there for consideration.

So - I submit to you for consideration my...

Top 5 Summer Reading Suggestions

I'm going to throw a disclaimer out there before I dive in that I recognize that most of my choices are a lot deeper in thought than what most people choose to/prefer to read over the summer. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) I tend to gravitate towards the kinds of books that make me reflect or challenge me to think on another level. That said... now I'll get started on my list for reals.

The Shack by William Paul Young: I read this book on our Jamaican vacation last year after it was recommended to me by a few different people. Basic synopsis (and I won't explain how it gets there because it will spoil the plot) is that this guy ends up getting an opportunity to spend a weekend in the woods in this old shack with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. What happens to this man, what he discovers, and how the author examines the Holy Trilogy and how we interact with It are absolutely incredible. This was absolutely one of the most powerful books I have ever read and is one that should be read alongside someone you can bounce your thoughts & ideas off of as you go through it. One warning for moms: I've been told by moms that they've either had a hard time reading this book or avoid it because of what they've heard about the story: essentially the main character loses his youngest daughter in a kidnapping while he was dealing with another crisis. (Link to book on Amazon: Click Here)

A Bend in the Road by Nicholas Sparks: This book I admittedly did not read during the summer; I actually read it at the gym over the winter but when I finished it knew that it could have served as a fantastic beach read. It's a Nicholas Sparks book, so you know it's going to be a good romance story from the get-go (checkmark in the beach-read column). The male character is a man who finds himself as a single dad after his wife passes away, and the female character is a single woman who just moved to town and happens to be the teacher of the male character's son. That's all you need to know - anything else is a giant spoiler. I blew threw this book in about 6 sessions of 35 minutes on the recumbent bike and enjoyed it thoroughly. Definitely a great beach or hammock read. (Link to book on Amazon: Click Here)

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: To put it simply: this is the story of the author's search to find herself after her bitter divorce funded by her publisher after she pitched the idea to them - and she admits this in the opening chapters. She decides to go around the world in search of personal joy, love, and spirituality. The book is a fantastic way to live vicariously through someone else without ever leaving your beach chair, couch, or porch swing. My favorite part of the book that will forever stick in my memory and has since changed the way I try new foods (at least!) is her description of eating and enjoying pizza while on a tour deep in the heart of Italy. I have not seen the movie yet and truthfully I am afraid that the movie didn't do the book justice and that's what I'll find out by watching it. If you haven't seen the movie yet - read the book first. It's 352 pages of the kind of adventure that a woman only dreams about. (Link to book on Amazon: Click Here)

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light by Mort Rosenblum: I read this book a couple of years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. I got it as a random library book, totally unsure of what to expect. What I got was an author who seemingly loves two things: good food and rich history. The book is an account of what would happen if you were to tour the world seeking out the best chocolate, the stories of the chocolatiers, the history behind the origins of chocolate as we know it, and why it is so valued. It is beautifully written and easy to get wrapped up in as you follow this journalist's journey around the world on his quest to learn all he can about chocolate. Are you a chocolate lover who also happens to think history is neat? Read this book this summer. (Link to book on Amazon: Click Here)

The Kite Runner by Khaled Houssaini: I am fully assuming that at this point - most people have read this book or have at least heard of it. This was an absolutely moving story about two young boys from different social classes growing up in Afghanistan. It is a wonderful story about friendship through adversity and is also a great snapshot of what life is like for these two different boys from different classes in a very turbulent area of the world. I could not put this book down when I was reading it and is honestly one of the few books-turned-movie that I have not only been excited to see but was pleased when I saw how well it turned out. If you enjoy what I'll call relatively accurate cultural fiction at all - this is definitely a book to get your hands on. (Link to book on Amazon: Click Here)

There are lots of other books that I could recommend to you that I've read that would make fantastic summer reads, but these are 5 of my absolute favorites that I think are almost "must-reads". There are few books that I would read over again; all of these books are ones that I could see myself giving a second pass to. If you choose any of these - let me know what you think!

Do you have any books that you'd recommend to others? 
What are your thoughts on this list? 
What's on your "to-read" list this summer?


Cara said...

Wow - I loved ALL of those books, except for the Chocolate one, and I only don't love that one because I haven't read it yet :)
Two comments - 1) the Eat, Pray, Love movie isn't bad. I actually really like it. In my opinion, they changed it slightly, but I didn't find myself comparing it to the book the whole time. (I think I've now read the book & seen the movie twice each.) 2) If you liked The Kite Runner, try A Thousand Splendid Suns :)

Cara said...

P.S. Summer Solstice is one of my favorite days of the year!!