Summer reads for the beach or anywhere you find yourself outdoors

Summer reads for the beach or anywhere you find yourself outdoors


books-DeweySummer is almost here and I’m lining up lots of books to read. Along with one memoir that calls itself a love story with recipes. (More on those next review). Hopefully you will spot something below that sounds interesting to take along to the beach or the park. Enjoy …

“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” (2012) by Maria Semple. This sharp, funny book brightened up the tail end of winter for me, even though some of the action takes place in Antarctica. Maria Semple was a writer for “Ellen,” “Arrested Development” and “Mad About You.” She has a wicked sense of humor and this book ranges from witty to outright hilarious. Bee lives with her mother, Bernadette, and her father, Elgin, a bigshot at Microsoft in Seattle. Bernadette is borderline agoraphobic. She has a virtual assistant in India, who even makes restaurant reservations for her. When Bernadette disappears two days before Christmas to avoid a trip to Antarctica, which was a present to Bee for getting perfect grades all through middle school, Bee has to track her mother down. The book is cleverly composed of letters, e-mails, bills, and other documents interspersed with Bee’s narration.

“The Island” (2005) by Victoria Hislop was given to me by a friend. It’s just a marvelous book and winner of the Galaxy British Book Awards. Alexis, a young woman in London has always been curious about her mother’s life. But, Sofia never spoke of her past. When Alexis plans a trip to Greece, she wants to see the village in Crete where Sofia was born. Sofia realizes it’s time and gives Alexis a letter to present to an old friend, Fotini, who will share the turbulent history of Alexis’ mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. Before visiting Fotini, Alexis decides to visit a small island just off the coast that was a leper colony from 1903 to 1957. She doesn’t realize what a big role the island played in all their lives.

“Nowhere But Home” (2013) by Liza Palmer. As I started reading, I thought, here we go again. Small town girl doesn’t make it in the big city and returns home to Texas to try and pick up the pieces. But, then the story took an unexpected turn. Yes, Queenie Wake is a chef, but she takes a job cooking last meals for death row inmates. And, despite the typical mean girls clique, the relationships between Queenie, her sister and friends are real and heartfelt. And, even the mean girls have their problems. This is the perfect summer beach read, with discovery, forgiveness, romance, barbecue and big hair.

“Isabel’s Bed” (1995) by Elinor Lipman. Love, love, love Elinor Lipman. I’ve been tracking down those of her books I haven’t read. They are funny, clever and have a certain elegance about them. When 41-year-old Harriet’s 12-year significant other, Kenny, tells her he’s in love with someone else and she has to move out, the unpublished writer needs a new home and her youth back. She finds it in a help wanted ad for a ghostwriter and an invitation to share the Cape Cod beach house of Isabel Krug, who wants Harriet to write the inside story of her foray into the tabloids.

“The Expats” (2012) by Chris Pavone is not easy to categorize. While it’s a fascinating spy thriller, it’s also a psychological thriller and a thoughtful portrait of a complicated marriage — and it’s kind of scary how similar espionage and marriage can be. When Kate and Dexter move to Luxembourg with their two sons because of Dexter’s job, Kate leaves her job at the CIA behind and becomes a housewife and full-time mother, cook and shopper. But, she hasn’t lost her sense of when something is wrong. This sophisticated trip around Europe is clever and suspenseful. You won’t be able to put it down.

“Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World” (2008)  by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter was from a friend. While I have two cats and adore them, books about animals are usually not my cup of tea. But, a library and a cat seemed right up my alley. And, the book is a delight. It’s a touching true story of a cat stuffed into the night deposit of a library in Spencer, Iowa, in the dead of winter and the librarian who formed an amazing connection with the orange cat who would become Dewey Readmore Books, who charmed a town, then the country, and then people around the world. And, who could resist him. Just look at that face!

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