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Summer Reading List {Book Club}

Who remembers the dread they felt when seeing the ‘Required Summer Reading’ list?  I was a total nerd and I loved {most} of the books we read {even The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck in tenth grade – my friend and I STILL talk about how she can’t believe I actually liked that awful book!}.  When you’re a grownup ‘summer reading’ is a bit more fun – especially when your chick-lit of choice accompanies a day at the beach!  With that in mind, I take my summer reading very seriously, and I’m looking forward to many of those long beach days, with one of these in my hand!

Krista Brackin Photography

All the Light We Cannot See.  {by Anthony Doerr}  This is our August book club selection, and it will be my second time reading this book.  I can honestly say that this is the best book I’ve ever read.   This book is absolutely exquisite.  Set in Europe {France and Germany} during World War II, the story is told very gently, yet it is very significant and impactful.  I have loved other books, and other books might claim the title of my ‘favorite,’ but with regards to how detailed and intricate this story is, how beautifully written it is, and how it makes you think, pause, and reflect, this book stands out as a magnificent work of art, that people will be talking about for a long time to come.

The Luminaries.  {by Eleanor Catton}  This is an 800-or-so page book that I’ve been working on for what feels like forever!  I bought the book when I was doing ‘research’ for our ‘long’ book club selection, and I started it over Christmas break.  It’s good, but it just takes so long to get through.  The story is really intricate, and there are a lot of characters with a lot going on and a lot of ‘hidden meaning,’ and I think because I have no idea about New Zealand history, some plot basics just aren’t familiar to me, and I find myself looking things up and consulting maps, and rereading sections.  Nevertheless, it’s really intriguing, and I’d like to finish it!  Wish me luck!

Into the Water.  {by Paula Hawkins} I loved Girl on the Train and, so far, this book is pretty much just as good {I’m about halfway through}.  Set in a remote British town, near a section of a river that’s infamous for people plummeting to their deaths {‘the drowning pool’ as it’s called} this book is mysterious, the plot is fast-moving, and I find myself wanting to keep reading so I can figure out where it’s all going.   There’s nothing like a good mystery for a summer beach read!  Definitely a great follow up to Girl on the Train!

UPDATE:  I finished this book on the beach this weekend and it is SO GOOD!  Totally worth the read, and with the same narrator-switches as GOTT and twists and turns right up until the very end, this book is totally exhilarating!  And the clues-that-you-don’t-realize-are-clues as the story builds are fantastic – as I got more into the story, and started picking up on more details, I went back and reread sections of the beginning, which was the perfect suspense-builder!  










Rebecca & My Cousin Rachel.  {by Daphne du Maurier}  These books were written in 1938 and 1951, respectively, and a My Cousin Rachel movie was just released, starring Rachel Weisz.  My interest was piqued when I heard about the movie – it looks so good! – and I came to find out that these two books are pretty notable pieces of literature.  Set in Cornwall, England, the story lines seem dramatic enough to keep my interest on the beach, that’s for sure!

Dragonfly in Amber.  {Diana Gabaldon; Outlander series book 2}  I’m a little late to the Outlander party, but I’m sure glad I showed up.  We read the first book for our book club, and I LOVED it!  It was super long, but because of the detail provided, you’re totally sucked into this magical world that’s truly like no other, and I’m dying to see what happens in this next book.

Before the Fall.  {by Noah Hawley}  This book is really good, but – disclaimer – do NOT read it when you’re on a plane, like I did.  I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to let you know that the story is based around a plane crash, but consider the heads-up a favor – I did not realize this!  I’m kind of a nervous flyer as it is {I’m fine unless there’s turbulence, then I freak} and as I began reading just after we took off, I kinda started to panic a bit with every little bump and dip of the plane.  So, it is really saying a lot that I continued to read the book despite this – it was just that good!  Highly recommended!  {also – let me know if you want my copy!  I’d love to pass it along to someone!}

The Light of Paris.  {by Eleanor Brown}  I’ve been looking at this book in airport shops for months, and the reviews are really complimentary, so I think it’s time to finally pick it up!  I love anything having to do with Paris – especially Jazz age Paris} and – like the city – a story based there is never a bad idea!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

My Life in France.  {by Julia Child.}  You’ll notice a theme in these next few books!  I have become more and more interested in cooking, particularly French cooking, family recipes, and hearty things you can make at home.  It’s been so much fun, and the food world is so energizing, creative, and inspiring.  The more podcasts I listen to, cookbooks I read, and recipes I research, just about everyone cites Julia Child as a major inspiration and as being one of the loveliest people that has ever lived.  I want to learn more about her, and what made her so fabulous, and this book seems like a good place to start.

Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.  {by Julia Child}  I’ve just glanced through it so far, but this book has little bits of kitchen wisdom that only a lifetime of culinary experience can produce!  I’d love to be a proficient cook, and I think this insider info will be beyond valuable as I navigate myself through more classic – and sometimes complicated! – recipes.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking {Volume 1&2}.  {by Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle}  These cookbooks are the absolute gold standard, as far as cookbooks go, for French cooking as well as cooking in general.  This is what started the rise of Julia Child to the ranks of culinary genius, and I’ve always been curious – especially after seeing Julie and Julia – about getting into some of these recipes myself.  They came in the mail the other day, and I’m just so excited just looking at them on my shelf!!

Julie & Julia.  {by Julie Powell}  Since I saw the movie, I wasn’t going to read the book, but I came across it in a used paperback store for like a dollar, so I figured, why not!  And the book is always better than the movie, right?!  The movie was beyond adorable, so I’m hoping that the book has the same kind of great, enthusiastic energy {I’m sure it does!!}

Salt Fat Acid Heat. {by Samin Nosrat}  I’ve heard this book repeatedly hailed as ‘culinary school in a book’ and ‘the best cookbook of the year,’ and I’m super curious!  Created after the author’s restaurant experience working with great chefs, who seemed able to cook any type of food – despite the origin or their background, this is a book of basic culinary principles told in an – apparently – amazing way.  Like with the Julia Child stuff, knowing the basics about food and cooking can go a long way, so I can’t wait to dig in!

The Beach House. {by Mary Alice Monroe} This was an Amazon $1.99 deal, and I was looking for a basic, beachy beach-house read, so it was calling my name!  The reviews are really good, and the author really accomplished, so I think I’m sure to fall head-first into this emotional story.










Wicked City &  Cocoa Beach.  {by Beatriz Williams}  I love love love anything Williams writes, and I’m dying to get into these two latest!  The stories are always super-intriguing, and her characters really dynamic.  If you like historical fiction, I highly recommend these books.  The best part – for me, as someone who gets deeply attached to characters in books – is that she interweaves each story so that there’s some overlap with the people and families in previous books.  It’s fantastic!  So far my favorite Beatriz Williams book has been A Hundred Summers, which I read on a train to Rhode Island a few summers ago, and it couldn’t have been more perfect.

Local Girl Missing.  {by Claire Douglas} This last book was a random library shelf grab – I figured it looked like a good – but typical – beach read-mystery that would be a little mindless and a good way to relax in the sun.  I definitely didn’t anticipate becoming as obsessed with this book – and finding out what REALLY HAPPENED!! – as I was yesterday.  It consumed my whole day and night and I literally couldn’t put it down…and I finished it in one day.  I love British books, and this story was based in a fictional seaside town in Somerset, England, and told the story of two best friends, who parted ways as teenagers only to come back together in their hometown for the summer when they were 21.  The story switches back and forth between the two girls, and is filled with action right from the start, and ends in a way you’d NEVER expect!

What are your summer beach reads?  I’m always looking for a new good book!  

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