What I Read This Summer

September 08, 2014

Here in Florida, summer—at least the weather part of it—won’t be over for another couple of months. However, since kids are back in school and fall decorations fill the stores, I’m going to pretend summer is over and do a summer reading round up. Maybe that will help fall get here sooner?

I broke with my usual summer reading traditions (no Wilkie Collins this summer—I missed him—and no writer’s biography). Instead, I’ve been steadily reading from my own shelves as well as consolidating my massive TBR (“to be read” for the uninitiated) list. As I have time, I’ve been looking up each book on my current list and deciding whether or not I still want to read it. If I do, I’m creating a brand new TBR list.  As I do this, I’m choosing a book here and there from the list to check out of the library. Nerdy as it sounds, it’s been a lot of fun!

Here are just a few highlights of my summer’s reading:

From my own shelves:

The appropriately-titled So Many Books, So Little Time, by Sara Nelson. Nelson’s chronicle of a year’s worth of reading a book a week woven into the events of her private life. I loved this and have added it to my shelf of “books about books.”

Old Filth, Jane Gardam. New-to-me author, and so good! I read about this on Danielle Simpson’s blog, and had picked up this copy at my library’s bookstore for a dollar. I will be reading more of Gardam’s work.

Cleopatra, by Stacy Schiff, was another library bookstore purchase. This fascinating biography had me from the first page: “Among the most famous women to have lived, Cleopatra VII ruled Egypt for twenty-two years. She lost a kingdom once, regained it, nearly lost it again, amassed an empire, lost it all. A goddess as a child, a queen at eighteen, a celebrity soon thereafter, she was an object of speculation and veneration, gossip and legend, even in her own time.”

From my enormous TBR list:

The Awakening of Miss Prim, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. I was disappointed in this book. It sounded like the perfect read for me, but I was left with an overall feeling of “meh.” Still, it did have this lovely passage: “Miss Prim sipped her tea and nestled down into the storeroom armchair. She too believed in the value of the little things. Her first coffee in the morning drunk from her Limoges porcelain cup. Sunlight filtering through the shutters of her room, casting shadows on the floor. Dozing off over a book on a summer’s afternoon. The look in the children’s eyes when they told you about some fact they’d just learned. It was from the little things that the big ones were made, it definitely was.”

The Little Stranger, by Sarah Waters. Just the right amount of spooky, and a story I keep thinking about.

And I just finished Still Life With Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen, which I loved. From page 223: “One day she had been out walking and she had wondered whether she’d become a different person in the last year, maybe because of what Paige Whittington had said about the dog pictures. Then when she really thought about it she realized she’d been becoming different people for as long as she could remember but had never really noticed, or had put it down to moods, or marriage, or motherhood. The problem was that she’d thought that at a certain point she would be a finished product. Now she wasn’t sure what that might be, especially when she considered how sure she had been about it at various times in the past, and how wrong she’d been.”

And while I didn’t read a writer’s biography, I did read Agatha Christie at Home—and now I want to visit Greenway, her home in Devon!

There were also comfort rereads: Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders and Death in the Air (also known as Death in the Clouds), and This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart. (I forgot all about The Crystal Cave…still need to check that out at the library.)

As far as reading challenges go, aside from the Mount TBR challenge, I’ve been slacking. Time to get back to the classics and the Vintage Mystery Challenge.

What were your favorite reads this summer?

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  1. Oh Kathy - I so love to read but often don't have time. "The Little Stranger" sounds like I might love it as well as Still Life with Bread Crumbs." Confess just have never been able to get into Agatha Christie - may just have to give it a try again. Thank you for sharing your summer reading list. Now I best get busy and check out some of these myself - Have a great day.

  2. This was fun! This hasn't been my easiest summer of reading, even though I have a book in my hands often. I only have one book that I keep thinking about, and I only finished it a couple of days ago. It is Anne Rice's "The Feast of all Saints" and is set in New Orleans in the last 1800's. It was kind of hard to get into at first, but the research and details and the story itself are really well done.

    I haven't been reading new books, just those that I get for a $1.00 like you do at the library.

    Have a super week! We are getting to head out on a 5th wheel trip this morning.

    Kathy M.

  3. Debbie--I liked both The Little Stranger and Still Life With Bread Crumbs very much. You'll have to let me know what you think if you read either one.

    I love Agatha Christie, but I know not everyone does. If you do like a cozy-type mystery you might try Patricia Wentworth instead. I like her a lot, too.

  4. Kathy--I've never read anything by Ann Rice, but I love New Orleans (and I've seen where she used to live there). Perhaps I'll have to look for The Feast of All Saints.

    Maybe you'll have time to read on your trip? Hope you have a great time!

  5. Finally, a question you ask that I can answer! LOL!! Three of the last four books I've read were my favorites for this summer - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (which I never would have read if I wasn't doing the classic challenge), The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin (about Anne Morrow Lindbergh), and Schroder by Amity Gaige). I've got Still Life with Bread Crumbs on my PBS wish list.

    You've done so well with your Mount TBR challenge, it makes up for any slacking you've done on the others. Plus there's still time left to get back to those.

  6. Cheryl--As a bonus, the two classics I'm reading right now are from my shelves-BAM!

    I should read The Aviator's Wife--I'm interested in Anne Morrow Lindbergh and have read almost everything she's written.

  7. I haven't read anything Anne Morrow Lindbergh has written, but now I think I want to.

  8. Cheryl--You have your choice of collections of diaries and letters, non-fiction, or a novel(s?). You could always start with Gift From the Sea, probably what she's best known for. I think you'd like it.