Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

My Summer Reading List


I made a summer bucket list a couple weeks ago in an effort to encourage myself to seize the moment (or seize the three months, as it were) and enjoy some of the season before it disappears and all I have are hazy memories of way, way too many hours logged at our local playground (story of my last few summers). I kept the bucket list realistic enough that I might actually tackle everything — or near everything — on the list, but ambitious enough to feel excited about doing do. Probably my most ambitious item on the list is to read five books this summer. Those of you who also have young kids you’re home with most of the day, and who don’t commute on public transportation regularly, may feel my pain. It’s hard to find the mental energy to focus on a book — newspaper and magazine articles are my usual go-to on a day-to-day basis. But I don’t want to let another summer pass without savoring the time-honored tradition of getting lost in a book on a hot day (or evening). And, so: another list. This time of books I feel drawn to read over the next couple of months:

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs
I’m a big fan of memoirs — they’re my favorite thing to read — and when I’ve been in a reading rut like I have been lately, memoirs are usually a sure-fire way to re-start a reading habit. I did a quick search for new memoirs on Amazon last week and saw that this book was recently published and had rave reviews. It’s about a woman — a mother — my age who is dying of breast cancer. “Exploring motherhood, marriage, friendship, and memory, even as she wrestles with the legacy of her great-great-great grandfather, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nina Riggs’s breathtaking memoir continues the urgent conversation that Paul Kalanithi began in his gorgeous When Breath Becomes Air. She asks, what makes a meaningful life when one has limited time?” Like Kalanithi’s memoir, The Bright Hour is deeply moving, poignant, and compelling. It’s also sad as hell.

Textbook by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Written by the late Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who wrote the beautiful essay “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” weeks before she died of cancer earlier this year, Textbook, “not exactly a memoir, not just a collection of observations,” is a beautiful exploration into the many ways we are connected on this planet and speaks to the awe, bewilderment, and poignancy of being alive. That’s my jam, and plus I love AKR (her daughter, by the way, is posting a beautiful tribute to her mother on Instagram, which I have enjoyed following over the past few months).

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
This is a novel, not a memoir, but it kept coming up as a recommendation in my search and had stellar reviews; then I read a Modern Love essay the other day that I liked and noticed that the author was the same guy who wrote this book, so now it’s on my summer reading list. It’s described as a murder mystery, which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I do like the way the author writes, and what can I say? I’m a sucker for a good title and a well-designed book cover.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby
This also popped up as another recommendation in my search (often purchased together with Hunger, Amazon says). It’s a collection of essays by a blogger I’m not familiar with, but it also has great reviews, and the blurb is funny: “Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making “adult” budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette—she’s “35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something”—detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father’s ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms—hang in there for the Costco loot—she’s as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths.”

My Glory Was I Had Such Friends: A Memoir by Amy Silverstein
This is a story about “showing up” for a friend in need as women from different points in the author’s life gather to support her as she awaits a heart transplant. Reviewers describe it as compelling, gripping, a page-turner, and full of compassion, empathy, love, and the power of friendship.

Honorable mention

For the fall, or to be squeezed in at the end of summer if I’ve finished these others:

Hunger by Roxane Gay
Written by best-selling author, Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist), Hunger is a memoir that explores the relationship between food, feelings, weight, and self-image. “Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.”

What are you all reading this summer? Any recommendations?

7 comments… add one
  • avatar

    ktfran July 20, 2017, 1:25 pm

    At lunch today, I finished Murder on the Orient Express. Now… I need to find a new quick read. I might try the book Kate mentioned on the Fiction thread.

    My mind is always in a jumble, so I find that I’m more engaged in suspense books, or a book that catches me within the first chapter.

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      ktfran July 20, 2017, 2:26 pm

      So, Kate, if you’re reading this, does Final Girls give gory death details?

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      • avatar

        Kate July 20, 2017, 2:34 pm

        I don’t know yet! I’ve been reading books about google and digital advertising. I’m not that far along yet where they get to what happened, but yeah, possibly.

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        Kate July 20, 2017, 2:39 pm

        At the beginning, she can’t remember what the fuck happened at the cabin in the woods that night. So it builds up to it.

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        ktfran July 20, 2017, 3:41 pm

        Thanks! I still might try it.

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny July 20, 2017, 2:17 pm

    I just read The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll for my book club. It was really good. It started out reading like a chick lit type of book but then it got serious pretty fast. And the author did a good job of making the main character really hard to like. I recommend it!

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  • avatar

    Jessica July 21, 2017, 7:41 am

    If you haven’t read it all ready: It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny. She wrote it after losing her father and husband (both to cancer) and her second pregnancy in a matter of weeks. BTW Nora hosts a podcast called Terrible, Thanks for Asking; she had Paul Kalanithi’s wife Lucy on as a guest.

    Speaking of podcasts, I am still recovering from listening to Debra Winger read the AKR essay on the Modern Love: The Podcast. Will I ever be able to think about it without crying? Nope.

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