Summer Reading List Part II

Yup, there are more books from my summer.  Maybe I should get another hobby?  David keeps trying to convince me that golf’s a good option…

The 19th Wife: David Ebershoff; Going with the Mormon theme of the summer, this unique book tells the story of Brigham Young’s 19th wife, as well as a modern day murder in a fundamentalist Mormon community.  The book flows well, even with the changes in time, place, and characters.  Polygamy, murder, history, and Utah: what more could one want in a book?  And it was on the “Buy 2, Get the 3rd Free” shelf at Barnes & Noble…I just can’t resist that deal!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Sherman Alexie: I wouldn’t have picked this book up except for the fact that it was on the 9th grade summer reading list at the school where I work.  This young adult fiction novel tells the story of “Junior,” a Native American adolescant straddling two lives: one on his reservation and the other at an almost all white school “off the res.” Junior’s “diary” is part journal, part doodles & drawings, as he processes tragedy, life, racism and being a teen.  While this one wouldn’t have jumped off the shelves at me, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and my students did too.  (I can’t say they felt the same about the next book.)

Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck: This literary classic was also part of the 9th grade summer reading.  “Don’t judge a book by its length,” I always warn my students when they first pick up this book.  Even though Of Mice and Men looks short, it’s deceptively complex and a tough read.  The story of Lennie and George is at the same time tragic and endearing, but if you’re going to read a Steinbeck novel, I’d always recommend East of Eden, over Mice. (Yes, it’s worth reading all those extra pages!)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot: If you haven’t gotten your hands on this book yet, this should be your next read.  Henrietta Lacks was my favorite book of the summer.  This incredible story beautifully blends history, science, and a human story.  Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman from rural Virginia, arrived at Johns Hopkins in 1950 with cervical cancer.  While receiving treatment, her cells were taken for research, and doctors quickly learned that Henrietta’s cells were immortal, as they reproduced more rapidly than any others.  For years, her cells have been used for research that has advanced science and medicine in many ways, from cancer research to the polio vaccine to in vetro.  Author, Rebecca Skloot, weaves the story of Henrietta’s life, the fate of her cells, and her extended family.  Seriously, this is a must read!

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain: This novel tells the story of Hadley Richardson, Ernest Heminway’s first wife.  Their story is full of passion, distraction and disappointment.  I enjoyed reading this book but I wasn’t completely convinced by the characters.  Some parts felt a little forced.  Maybe I felt this way because this is the type of book I envision writing myself: a true story about real people, but told with dialogue and artistic license.  I would love your thoughts on The Paris Wife if you’ve read this one.

So what are my my “Top 3, Couldn’t Put them Down, Reads” of the summer?

Here they are, in no particular order:

What are yours?

Oh, and I just started this one (and can’t put it down): David Nicholls’ One Day

  1. Susie Fikse says:

    Betsy,
    Love your book recommendations. I am on the last of my summer reading stack (Sarah’s Key), so I was looking for the next. I have been thinking about The Immortal Life… so you’ve convinced me. Look forward to reading it. Keep the recommendations coming!!
    Susie
    PS: We’re at All Soul’s Fellowship in Decatur now, although I’d love to visit Westside again sometime soon :)

  2. Betsy says:

    Hi Susie! Immortal Life is great! How is Sarah’s Key? I still haven’t read it. Hope to see y’all soon!

  3. Wendy says:

    I am half-way through Immortal Life and can’t put it down. Thanks for the rec!

  4. Betsy says:

    So glad you’re enjoying it, Wendy! Don’t you think it would be a great summer reading book?

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