Summer Reading — Time for Recommendations

May 30, 2016

tablet computer on boatIt’s time to wind down the blog for the summer here at By Word of Beth. How are you planning to spend your summer?

While I’ll still be editing (if you’re looking for a freelance editor, check my services out at Flubs2Fixes), and I’ll still be writing, I’ll be taking things a bit easier than usual. For me, taking it easy often involves BOOKS! So yes, I’ll be reading, too.

I’ve recently read a couple of fabulous novels-for-grownups that I want to recommend to you for your own summer reading.

I heard about The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald on Minnesota Public Radio (a great source for book recommendations!) and eagerly requested it from the library. It lived up to the interview on MPR. It’s about a woman, Sara, who travels to Iowa from her hometown in Sweden to meet her penpal, with whom she’s been exchanging books and book recommendations (my kind of penpal!) only to discover that the penpal has just died. Sara has planned to stay for a couple of months — and she does just that.

She discovers that the tiny town needs something, and decides that what it needs is a bookstore. She opens one, using her penpal’s treasure trove of books as a start-up. The back cover of the paperback edition of this book sports this Warning: “Once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can happen.” The town of Broken Wheel, Iowa will never be the same.

My friend Jan recommended Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I just finished reading it, and I can hardly wait for Simonson’s next book, The Summer Before the War, to land on the hold shelf with my name on it. Hear Simonson talk about Major Pettigrew here.

Major Pettigrew is an aging Englishman who thought his world was fairly settled, if a little dull — until he gets to know the lady in the village shop, Mrs. Ali. They share a love of literature, and feel at ease with each other. But the village is not easy with their relationship. They have many difficult people and challenging situations to deal with as they tread the rocky road of a cross-cultural relationship.

Simonson’s writing is delightful. I discovered, while reading the book, that she received her MFA from Stony Brook Southampton University and was part of a panel at the Stony Brook Southampton Literature Conference in 2012, when I was there. But I had a migraine that afternoon, and missed hearing her speak! Does anyone have a time travel machine I could use? I want a do-over! Here she is talking to a similar group at a previous Stony Brook Southampton Summer Conference.

I wholeheartedly recommend these books to you. And I’m looking for recommendations FROM you, as well. What should I be reading this summer? Please let me know in the comments. NOTE: I’ll be posting about middle grade novels at the Starborn Revue on Wednesday, so if you have any MG to recommend, please add the titles in comments on that post.

After today, By Word of Beth will be on hiatus until September. I hope you have a wonderful, restorative summer! See you in the fall!

Beth in script for blog

9 People reacted on this

  1. Thanks for the recommendations, both sound great! I am currently reading Plain Kate by Erin Bow, a middle-grade novel, and really enjoying it. Another great middle-grade novel is Flying With a Broken Wing by Laura Best. Have a great summer break!

  2. Hi. My recommendation for my book club was The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. I wrote about it on my blog. The novel is set in Afghanistan. I learned so much about life there, especially for women. Beautifully written, sad, and yet hopeful for a better world.
    MG: A local author has a lovely book out called Waiting for Unicorns, by Beth Hautala. You will learn about whales and grief, friendship, and keeping your hopes and dreams in a Mason jar.
    Enjoy your summer!

  3. Enjoy your vacation! The last 2 grown-up books I liked were – Only Time Will Tell – Jeffrey Archer and Left Neglected – Lisa Genova.

  4. Thank you for the great book recommendations! I love NPR suggestions. Enjoy your summer. Are you attending any conferences?

    Michelle Isenhoff, Indie author, has written YA historical fiction series with ELLA WOOD (2015) and BLOOD MOON (2016). She tells the story of Emily Preston who grows up on a plantation in the south before the civil war, assists with her northern uncle’s abolitionist activities and has to find her way. The third book in the trilogy will be out next spring. Michelle is a very literary author and I love her work.

  5. I hit the bookshop at the Getty Center – all purchases going towards my Birthday Presents. I bought books on medieval fashion, medieval beasts, alchemy in art, the debauched side of the Renaissance. All – possibly with the exception of the last? – titles could be enjoyed by all ages. The idea of all those lovely unread books waiting for me is simply delicious!

    Enjoy your hiatus!

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