Hot summer fare runs from mystery to romance, extraordinary writing to easy reading

Good Reads1 copy

 By John Hoover

Although there always seems to be a lot that needs to get done during Vermont’s all too short summer, life also seems to move at a slightly slower pace.

If you’re like me, you often find yourself putting off something that needs doing in order to spend time at the lake or lounge on the deck in the sunlight. Perhaps it’s because summer is vacation time, the kids are out of school and often we head off to some place other than home where there is less to be done. Here at Misty Valley Books we tend to relax a bit more during summertime so we thought we’d recommend some books that seem to fit with our view of summer reading.

I am having so much funLynne has two recommendations for leisurely summer reading. The first is I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You ($25.99 ) by Courtney Maum. “A reverse love story set in Paris and London — beautifully written with utterly charming  characters you will root for: a 34-year-old British artist husband who tries to woo back (after an affair) his wonderful French lawyer wife (and daughter). All the light we cannot seeA great summer read.” Her second recommendation is All the Light We Cannot See ($27) by Anthony Doerr. It’s a “lyrical story of how war affects two young people from opposing sides — both are anomalies — a blind French girl and a German orphan boy who is an electronics wizard — both of whom are enthralled by the beauty of life. Set in Saint-Malo, France, and Germany, this was a rare find in the pile of books I come across in my work.”

Constellation ofA Constellation of Vital Phenomena ($15) by Anthony Marra is Bill’s summer reading choice. “This book is an extraordinary narrative of life in Chechnya during the two wars there.  The prose is so flawless that you forget you’re reading; the images so bold that you don’t need pictures; and further proof that fiction can outshine purely historical accounts.  We have invited the author to our New Voices weekend in January 2015.”

We Were LiarsJory’s pick for July is E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars ($17.99), her latest young adult novel. “The book is set on a private island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, where a wealthy, old-money family spends their summers. Except something happened in Cadence (Cady) Sinclair Eastman’s 15th summer — a summer full of love and questions and family tension — that caused a traumatic brain injury, leaving her unable to remember what happened. In We Were Liars, she pieces Summer 15 back together. Riveting and beautifully written, I read this book in one sitting!”

Sweet Salt AirA perfect book for the beach,” says Kim about Sweet Salt Air ($15.99) by Barbara Delinsky. “It’s got friendship, romance, secrets, betrayal, a scary medical diagnosis — all set on a small island off the coast of Maine. Plot is light enough to be a mindless vacation escape, but dramatic enough to keep your attention throughout. As much as I am not really a ‘beach’ person (I prefer a quite lake myself), I always equate novels set along the shore with lazy summer afternoons, and this one doesn’t disappoint.”

Everything most lovedAmanda’s choice for a good beach/lake read is the latest installment in Jacqueline Winspear’s Masie Dobbs detective series, Leaving Everything Most Loved ($15.99).  “Just having returned from the Cape and a brief chance to sit on the beach, I am reminded why this series is the perfect beach-read series.  While Maisie and her assistants undertake their latest murder investigation, she must make an important decision regarding her own future.  This is definitely not intellectually challenging fiction, but while I’m sitting on the beach enjoying the sun and surf, it sets just the right tone – and sets me up for my next read, I am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes.  A spy thriller!  My other favorite summer read genre.”

Storied life of AJ FilkreyLike Lynne, I had trouble picking only one book for this column so I’m going with two. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry ($24.95), by Gabrielle Zevin, was one of the best books I’ve read this year. Also set on a small island off the coast of Cape Cod (what is it with island books this summer?), A. J. Fikry is a widower and bookstore owner who is slowly drinking himself to death. First the centerpiece of his library is stolen and then a mysterious gift arrives that totally changes his life. This is a must read for all you who love books and bookstores … as Police Chief Lambiase says, ‘A place ain’t a place without a bookstore!’ ”

One summerMy second choice, One Summer ($8) by David Baldacci, comes from an author who normally writes thrillers but manages to write a wonderful love story. Jack Armstrong is dying and struggles to say goodbye to his family. Tragedy strikes when his wife, Lizzie, is killed in an automobile accident and their three children are sent to live with different family members. Jack makes a miraculous recovery and determines to reunite his family during one summer at Lizzie’s childhood home in coastal South Carolina. Sentimental, yes, but also light and easy to read.

Check back the beginning of August for our recommendations for Good Reads about pets and animals.

© The Chester Telegraph – 2014

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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