Books I Read This Summer

Well this is it, folks. Summer is officially dead to me. I’m in meetings all week, and as far as I’m concerned it’s fall. I will wrap myself in bright sweaters and soft leggings each evening, seeking premature cold-weather comfort to stifle the chill of being in the frigid air condition cell all day.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. Let’s reminisce about the summer! It was too short and I was too busy, but I did my part of escapism and read several novels. Here are the books I read and the journeys I read them during.

Handmaid’s Tale
I started this before I was out for the summer, but it was solidly summertime! Dark and horrifying, drawing eery parallels to modern times, this was not a light summer read.

Hillbilly Elegy
This was also not a light summer read, but my timing was appropriate. Reading about the struggle and consequential political defense of working class whites, I read this while visiting my hometown in southern Indiana. Many of the economic factors described in the book have happened exactly in my hometown, and reading this helped me understand some viewpoints I have always railed against without trying to understand.

Woman in Cabin 10
This was a haunting summer read that I have found even more chilling since the news of this true crime case. I devoured this book, even trying to read it slowly and stretch it out, it only lasted three days. I loved Ruth Ware’s book “In a Dark, Dark, Wood” and this did not disappoint.

A Man Called Ove
This book is tender and sweet, and brings joy and laughter where you least expect it. Featuring a crotchety old man, a mangey cat, and loving neighbors, this book brings the solemnity of age and joy of youth. This is a read that everyone can enjoy.

The Lying Game
I couldn’t get enough of the Ruth Ware books! As soon as I saw that she had another book out, I begged our hosts in NYC to take me to a bookstore. I visited two or three before I found it, and in true form, finished it in two or three days. Ware’s thrillers are so captivating and the main characters are so relatable, I really can’t bring myself to put them down.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice
I am still working on this one. Think Sherlock Holmes meets young scholarly woman. In this story, the beginning of the Mary Russell Series, Sherlock and a young woman have a platonic and professional friendship where they study and conduct science experiments together, and work side-by-side as sleuths solving cases. These mysteries are tame, not scary, but thoughtful and interesting. Mary Russell is a headstrong independent woman, showcasing traits that were not popular in women during that period. It’s a feminine take on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s originals, set in the countryside instead of the city, happening during wartime in the early 20th century.

 

 

 

Book Lists

“Everyone is always looking for the next good book to read.” That’s what my mom told me when I expressed surprise at the popularity of all the posts about favorite books. I have written lengthy descriptions about my favorite Summer Re-Reads and detailed reflections about popular books on controversial topics, such as The Handmaid’s Tale or Hillbilly Elegy. The Wonder Of is unrolling a new Book Lists page as a central location for all of the book lists that we publish. If you just finished a great novel and want to find one in a similar theme, check for more from our Nature Week Book Club or maybe What We Read on Vacation.

The Book Lists page will be regularly updated and reorganized, so be sure to keep checking back. If you’re curious, I’m reading this book now. What are you reading?

Tanzanian Dreams

I woke up from a dream about a dream I’d had before,
Where I’d fly out to Africa to visit the Tanzanian shore,
I don’t remember buying the flight, but I know I reserved our stays,
In Tanzania, in Africa, for twelve or thirteen days.

I need to call my sister now, did I even tell her we’re going?
Waking in the night, memories quickly slowing,
I dreamt I bought these tickets, now I dreamt we must soon pack,
We need to check in for the flight in order to make it back.

In my first dream, I remember, rivers and forests at night,
My geographical knowledge is limited, but somehow I got Tanzania right.
Three great lakes of Africa here, with abundant greenery,
With beaches and plains and east African rains, Tanzania has distinctive scenery.

I imagine there are zebras and giraffes, wildebeests on the go,
Sipping the waters of Lake Victoria, or surrounding the peaks of Kilimanjaro.
When we visit Tanzania again: in my dreams, in my sleep, at night;
I’ll be sure to call my sister first, and tell her about the flight.

What We Read on Vacation

The 9 books read by 6 people during an 11 day vacation.

Kristy packed New Lanark in Search of Utopia, a book about important historical figures from her hometown. She was busy on this trip and didn’t have much chance to read.

Kurt listened to music in his downtime, and didn’t pack a book.

Anthony read Mingus: A Critical Biography, about the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus.

Thor normally out-reads us all, but I didn’t see him touch the copy of Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in Your Twenties and Thirties that Mom gave him. Instead of reading, during his downtime he wrote.

Kendra started with The Kindness of Strangers, a Lonely Planet travel book and collection of short stories. The short stories were kind of hard for us to get into on this trip. What was not difficult to get into was the gripping The Woman in Cabin 10 which she knew must be good when I devoured half of it on a four hour plane ride. While she waited for me to finish the thriller, she read Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and when she had finished all of these and realized she was bookless for a 6 hour car trip with the whole family and a 4 hour return flights, she picked up book one of A Game of Thrones which has kept her occupied during our many hours of transit back in Chicago. Kendra was definitely the most dedicated reader on this vacation!

Kelsey read over half of  The Woman in Cabin 10 on the plane. She tried to savor it and read less than a chapter a night, but Kendra new it must be good and rushed her so that she could read it. When Kelsey finished the book on day three of an eleven day trip, she went and bought A Man Called Ove, which she is also breezing through.

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