Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

What’s On Your Summer Reading Wish List?

Believe it or not, this weekend is Memorial Day here in the US, which means summer is just around the corner (and here in NYC, with temps nearly double what they were ten days ago, it very much suddenly feels like summer), which means it’s time to think about summer reading. As I’ve mentioned several times, one of my big goals for this year was to read more books. I have a goal to read at least 25 books total — in recent years, my norm is more like 10-12 a year — and while I started the year strong, I faltered a bit over late winter and early spring and have just gotten back in the groove.

Yesterday I finished the beautifully-written, almost devastating memoir Small Fry written by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Steve Jobs’ eldest child, about growing up between two very disparate worlds (her father, of course, was extremely successful, rich, and famous, while her struggling single mother relied on welfare for many years to support them). I remembered how much I love a well-told memoir, and I am looking forward to reading a few more I have on hold at the library, including Educated; All That You Leave Behind; I’m The One Who Got Away; and You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.

I also have two collections of essays on hold: I Miss You When I Blink; and You Think It, I’ll Say It.

And, so far, one novel: Normal People by the so-called overnight sensation, Sally Rooney, whose first novel Conversations With Friends I read earlier this year and loved.

Finally, fellow 40-something women might also be excited to read a new memoir by 90s singer-songwriting-feminist-powerhouse, Ani DiFranco, called No Walls and the Recurring Dream.

So, that’s my list so far (and I guess if I actually read them all before summer’s over, I’ll be in very good shape to hit my goal of 25 total for the year). Anything else you’d recommend I add? What’s on your list?

23 comments… add one
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    Skyblossom May 20, 2019, 1:37 pm

    I just added Small Fry to my holds list at the library!

    I’m also waiting for

    Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
    Why we Sleep by Matthew Walker
    Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
    The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff
    Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
    Eat to Beat Disease by William W. Li
    We Must be Brave by Frances Liardet
    Accidental Presidents by Jared Cohen
    Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly
    Citizens of London by Lynne Olson

    I’m currently reading three books.

    The Code Book by Simon Singh
    BioDiet by David G Harper
    Ancestral Journeys by Jean Manco

    I also have one book checked out from the library and waiting to be read.

    The Complete Book of Ketones by Mary T. Newport

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      Dear Wendy May 20, 2019, 2:04 pm

      I’m curious: when you read multiple books simultaneously, what’s your preferred way of doing that? do you alternate what you read each night? do you have one book for, like, commuting and one for before bedtime? Or it is totally random or what?

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        Skyblossom May 20, 2019, 3:10 pm

        It depends on my mood when I’m ready to read. Each of the books that I’m reading is very different and I grab the one that appeals to me.

      • Fyodor May 20, 2019, 3:46 pm

        I’ll sometimes have a more serious/informative/challenging boob that I am reading in parallel with a lighter/more entertaining book. I might read the easier one when I am multitasking or tired and the harder one when I have more time to concentrate.

      • Fyodor May 20, 2019, 3:48 pm

        That should be “book”. One of the books is about premarital sex in the 40s and it may be breaking into my thinking.

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      Bittergaymark May 20, 2019, 2:33 pm

      Impressive. I could never do that. I always get too damn needy about knowing what happens.

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        Skyblossom May 20, 2019, 3:15 pm

        The ones I’m currently reading are all nonfiction without a cliffhanger ending. The Code Book is about the history of encrypted messages. BioDiet is about how diet affects the body. It supports a ketogenic diet. Ancestral Journeys is about the movement of ancient humans out of Africa, specifically how they got to Europe.

    • Brian Fairbanks May 21, 2019, 10:06 am

      Frederick Douglas is my next read, as well!

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  • Aya May 20, 2019, 2:21 pm

    I highly recommend listening to the the audio version of You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me. Alexei has so much emotion, and it’s great to hear the tempo of the poems

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      Dear Wendy May 20, 2019, 3:08 pm

      I’ve never listened to an audio book, but I will keep this in mind – thanks!

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        Skyblossom May 20, 2019, 3:13 pm

        Audio books are great for when you are up and moving around like when you are cleaning or going for a walk.

        Your library may have an app for them. Ours is Libby and I think it is used broadly. With the app you can stream or download audio books through your phone.

  • Fyodor May 20, 2019, 3:37 pm

    Heh. When I was younger I had a girlfriend who (who is now in her early forties) who loved Ani De Franco

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  • anonymousse May 20, 2019, 6:16 pm

    Normal people is on my list!

    This is my holds list at the library:
    Women Talking by Miriam Toews
    Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
    Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller
    Then She Was Gone and The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

    And I’m reading Erik Larson’s In The Garden Of Beasts
    The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

    I read mainly at night before bed or (if I’m lucky) the bathtub.
    I often want something historical and hopefully less gripping at night (Erik Larson isn’t boring, though.) Sometimes I’m stuck between two or three books because there are often long waitlists for more recent books. I’ll set aside other stuff to plow through the new book that I’d otherwise have to wait 6 months for.

    Also, I used to love Ani Defranco. I remember being a teen growing up in the middle of nowhere with little access to pop culture (no TV) and reading an interview with her in Rolling Stone and just thinking she was the coolest.

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    • anonymousse May 20, 2019, 6:17 pm


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    • K May 22, 2019, 2:46 pm

      I met Erik Larson 4 years ago when we were staying at the same B&B as him on Block Island. We talked to him and his wife for 20 minutes before we found out it was him. Super nice guy, along with being a great author!

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      • anonymousse May 22, 2019, 8:12 pm

        OMG, that’s so cool. I love his work so much.

  • allathian May 21, 2019, 12:44 am

    Great tip about poetry audio books. I’ll have to give that one a try. I’m a very visual learner, so I tend to get distracted easily when listening. How anyone can listen to audio books when driving is completely beyond me. I wouldn’t be able to follow the story or else I’d be too distracted to drive safely. I only have one audio book, a King Arthur story narrated by Sean Bean. But then, I love his voice, I’d probably listen to him reading the phone book.
    So I prefer books on paper. I’ll read e-books on my cellphone at a pinch, but paper is best.
    The last book I read was Pulse by Felix Francis, who’s continuing in his father Dick’s footsteps. I started reading as I went to bed around 10 p.m. and when I finished the book it was nearly 3 a.m. I had to get up three hours later… I’m too old at 47 to do this very often these days, which is why I usually prefer to read books I’ve read at least once before in bed.

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    Skyblossom May 21, 2019, 1:32 pm

    There is one other great way to use an audiobook. When my mind is running at night and I can’t get to sleep I listen to an audiobook. That distracts me from whatever is keeping me awake and I relax and go to sleep. I have found that nonfiction works best because the voice goes up and down too much in fiction and that wakes me up. I listen to the audiobook with an earbud so that I’m the only one hearing it. The only downside is that if I want to roll over I have to move the earbud to my other ear. Sometimes I start the night laying on my back and use both earbuds.

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  • Ruby Tuesday May 21, 2019, 11:28 pm

    THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME. I bought Small Fry when it first came out and got distracted.

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  • K May 22, 2019, 2:49 pm

    YES to Educated and You Think It, I’ll Say It. Loved them both (but I love all of Curtis Sittenfeld’s books). I’m currently reading Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng, which I know was pretty hyped up but I really like it. Quite a bit more than her first book, which I thought was just ok.

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      Dear Wendy May 22, 2019, 3:10 pm

      I read Little Fires Everywhere a couple months ago and loved it.

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    • snoopy May 23, 2019, 9:20 am

      Seconding your ‘yes’ to Educated.

      Also loved Little Fires Everywhere.

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  • snoopy May 23, 2019, 9:27 am

    I don’t have much on my reading list now, so writing things down from this list!

    My list: The Valley of Amazement and The Joy Luck Club, both by Amy Tan.
    Women Talking
    Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

    I’m waiting for my birthday to request the Shadow and Bone Trilogy. I love YA Fantasy.

    Checking my amazon list for this and found out What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman was on sale for Kindle for $3.

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