Next week, it’s back to reality. With the exception of July (during which I taught a class), I’ve had a very stress-free, relaxing summer, and I’m sad it’s over. However, I realize that if this were any other fall semester, it would already be over, but Union’s fall semester starts later this year because of the new housing that had to be built after the tornado (14 new buildings in about 6 months! Amazing!). And of course, there’s also the fact that most people who are beyond college age don’t even have summers, so I should just count my blessings.
While I only managed to read one book on my original summer book list, I have read some books, mostly during July and August. Most of them, however, weren’t exactly “literary” in the snobbiest sense of the word, but I think my brain just needed a break. In case you’re curious, here’s the list:
1. The Complete Fairy Tales by George MacDonald. The one book on my original list, and I liked it overall. I will admit that I skimmed some of the tales near the end, as I found them more dense and less entertaining than some of his earlier works. Still, I found his stories to be original and thought-provoking and would recommend them.
2. Dedication by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. I read this book based solely on my love of The Nanny Diaries, their first collaborative effort, but am going to give up on them after disliking this one and the one before it, Citizen Girl. I don’t know quite how to explain my dislike, except that it seemed far too indulgent.
3. Summer by Karen Kingsbury. I love Karen Kingsbury’s books, although they can seem in many ways to be too sugary and too easily resolved. Still, she does deal with some complicated issues, and she’s an author I know I can rely on for enjoyable Christian fiction (a genre that I often hold at a lower standard than other types of literature, sadly enough).
4. Shopaholic and Baby by Sophie Kinsella. The Shopaholic books are my ultimate guilty pleasure, and this one did not disappoint. I love it when a book can cause me to both laugh hysterically and also become a bit teary-eyed.
5. The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. This book isn’t part of the Shopaholic series, and I don’t think I liked it as much as I’ve enjoyed those, but it was still a fun read.
6. Savannah by the Sea by Denise Hildreth. Another Christian fiction/chic lit book, it was very enjoyable. I read the first book, Savannah from Savannah, a few years ago and found it to be charming, and this one was also.
7. Mercy by Jodi Picoult. It actually took me a few minutes to remember what this one is about. I’ve read almost all of Picoult’s novels and enjoy them because of Picoult’s handling of messy and fascinating subjects. This particular novel addressed the idea of mercy killing, with interesting results.
8. A Mile in My Flip-Flops by Melody Carlson. More Christian chic lit. I picked it up because the protagonist decides to flip a house, knowing nothing about it but what she’s seen on HGTV. I had a love affair with HGTV myself (before we cancelled expanded cable, alas), so I was intrigued by the concept. It was pretty entertaining, but I didn’t love the way the romance played out. There wasn’t enough character development for it be believable.
9. Bookends by Liz Curtis Higgs. The title of this book is what got me, and while it was decent enough, overall I thought it was just okay. It had its charming bits, though, despite being terribly predictable.
10. House by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Stephen has been on quite the Ted Dekker kick (he writes Christian thrillers that often have a strong supernatural element), and so I picked this up at the library because it sounded interesting. It was quite riveting; I read it all in one night, I think, and then I had trouble going to sleep because it freaked me out. My imagination is far too vivid.
11. Adam by Ted Dekker. I read this at Stephen’s recommendation and found it to be gripping and well-written but also disturbing. It read kind of like a very long episode of Criminal Minds, in a way, which I like, but I guess I can stomach serial killers portrayed visually better than I can in print because it too left me unsettled, after which time I decided to leave the reading of Ted Dekker to my husband. 🙂
12. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Ah, Anne. What bettter way to rid my mind of disturbing serial killers than to read of dimpled elbows and kindred spirits and the Lake of Shining Waters? I adored these books when I was younger, and filling out the book survey inspired me to reread all of them. I found things about the books to be somewhat more annoying this time around (like having things told secondhand through Anne or someone else instead of actually writing out the events/dialogues themselves), but I still think they’re completely charming and hope I have a daughter I can share them with.
13. Anne of Avonlea.
14. Anne of the Island.
15. Anne of Windy Poplars.
16. Hold Tight by Harlan Coben. I think I read this in between two of the Anne books, to take a break, and I really enjoyed it. Through a fictional story that has several different subplots, it asks the question, how much privacy is too much privacy between parents and their children? Is it ever okay to violate that privacy for the sake of protecting the child?
17. The Novelist by Angela Hunt. Another Christian fiction pick, but one that I thought used an interesting narrative device (a frame narrative, so to speak). I liked it.
18. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. The author of this book is coming to Jackson to speak this fall, so I thought I should read it, having heard it makes for good “brain candy.” And it does. If you like Jane Austen’s works, this book might be of interest to you. It’s about a girl in the 21st century who wakes up one day to find herself in Jane Austen’s time. It provides a less “rosy” view of the time period than many people think of, making mention of chamber pots and body odor and bad teeth, and while I didn’t love the way it ended (it seemed a bit abrupt), I liked it overall.
So that’s my list. Considering the fact that I read more than half of them in August alone, I think that’s pretty good, but it could have been much better had my brain felt like reading earlier in the summer. I’m currently reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, which I’ve been meaning to read for years and am now getting around to. It’s too soon to pronounce a verdict on it just yet.