Summer Reading

June 14, 2012, by Group Post

Next week marks the official start of summer and last summer’s book suggestions were well received, so we’re doing it again. Pour yourself a glass of iced tea or a crisp rosé and enjoy!


Part love story, part thriller, part cultural immersion, Saturday Comes, a first novel by our very own Carine Fabius, is magic. Her compelling characters, alive and otherwise, take you on a journey of love, loss, revenge and voudou. From the Haitian home of the bourgeoisie to the palpable humidity of Miami, this captivating tale transported me and the writing took my breath away.

Currently, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is keeping me up at night. This true story, written by science writer Rebecca Skloot, is another page-turner. In the 1950s, a poor black woman’s cancer cells were taken without permission and eventually used to develop the polio vaccine and numerous scientific advances. While her cells make others billions of dollars, the late Henrietta Lacks remains relatively unknown and her family impoverished.


Come to the Edge by Christina Haag. Imagine a Greek god descending from Mt. Olympus and sweeping you off your feet. Author Christina Haag captures the passion and tragedy of being loved by John F. Kennedy, Jr., the closest approximation to an Olympian who has ever walked the earth. Christina’s memoir chronicles the Kennedy inner-circle while revealing the flaws that brought this exquisite Icarus crashing to earth 13 years ago this July.

I haven’t read a book in one sitting since I had the time to do so—about three decades ago. Thanks to jetting cross-country sans enfants and Cathy Fischer, who handed me The Glass Castle as I hurried to catch a plane, I experienced the fullness of this absorbing pleasure once again. For six glorious hours, author Jeannette Walls’ true tale of her hillbilly-bohemian family transfixed me with an intoxicating brew of horror and hilarity so wickedly delicious that my own family seemed almost normal by comparison.


Fairly pulsating on my bedside table is a “whodunit”, In the Woods, by Tana French. I’ve been anticipating reading this Edgar Award-winning debut novel sent to us by a good murder mystery loving pal, and I feel I deserve it after my long, tedious, punishing slog through those damn three Steig Larsen books.

However, after the loss of one of America’s very finest writers, the exquisite Ray Bradbury, I’ve decided that for now I’ll pursue a deeper pleasure by re-reading some of Mr. Bradbury’s greatest works. Oh, you know which ones—how about The Illustrated Man for a start, or Something Wicked This Way Comes, or The Martian Chronicles? Doesn’t matter. I’ll be transported to other worlds all summer long and that’s the point, right?


Alert: These are not summer reads!
Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, which aims to turn us all into intuitive healers, explains the chakra system in a physiological and psychological way that I was finally able to grasp. Oh, this energy center links to that dysfunction! At the book’s core is the creed she returns to again and again: “…your biography becomes your biology.” Never heard it that way before.

I love, love, love The Thinker’s Thesaurus by Peter E. Meltzer, a must-have for all writers and lovers of language. This is no mere provider of synonyms. It offers fresh alternatives to common words along with usage guides that will make you sound not just smarter but more raffiné!


My friend the amazing iconographer Father Bill and I were bumming around a bookstore together a few months ago. Breathlessly Bill delivered a book into my hands saying “I am buying this for you. You must read it. If I knew for sure you’d like it I would buy you the whole series.” The book and the series Across the Nightingale Floor (Tales of the Otori). I read it, I loved it and I am now on book three of five. I didn’t think a story set in a fictional feudal Japan would grab me but grab me it has with its warriors and monks, fierce maidens and clans with mystical powers and dubious ends. Tales of the Otori takes readers far away and that is just the ticket.


A luscious adventure from an unexpected point of view I recommend The Mutiny on the Bounty by Irish novelist John Boyne. In December of 1787, and through a fateful encounter, orphan and thief John Jacob Turnstile finds himself aboard The Bounty bound for the tropics as cabin boy for Captain Bligh. John Jacob grew up hard and is headed towards prison. The rich foreigner whose pocket he attempted to pick strangely comes to the boy’s aid and finds a place for him among the crew of The Bounty about to set sail for the Society Islands. Boyne’s creative imaginings reveal a complex interplay between the characters. John Jacob’s observations on the flaws and insecurities of his masters are acute commentary on social injustice and man’s inhumanity.

Add one of your favorite books to the list

Be Sociable, Share!
Email this to a friend  > >   
Tell A Friend
  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
  4. (valid email required)
  5. Captcha

cforms contact form by delicious:days

Information you supply will only be used to send this email.

Subscribe to Fifty is the New... >>

13 Responses to “Summer Reading”

  1. Conz Says:

    Summer! Books! Rose’! Someone transport me to a beach and I’ll be in heaven.

  2. Karen Says:

    I always look forward to this Summer Reading post. Thank you.

  3. Cathy Says:

    Thanks Karen!
    The Glass Castle remains one of my favorites. Pru, pass it on or send it back ;-)

  4. Cathy Says:

    Oh and you can see all of the great books by Carine Fabius on Good Reads

  5. dearpru Says:

    So many books, so little time! I thank my fellow fiftyisthenew bloggerinas for the wonderful suggestions, and especially Cathy, who made this all possible. (And, yes, your fab book will be on its way to you soon–but only if you’ll respect me in the morning!)

    Also, a shout-out to Marsha Rose, who has recommended dozens of excellent books over the years–I just finished two others she suggested. The Nine,by Jeffrey Toobin, is an in-depth look into the lives of Supreme Court justices that finally explains why the country made a sharp, rightwing turn over the past 30 years. The other, Devil in the White City, weaves together three stories from the turn of the last century in Chicago, the creation of the 1893 World’s Fair, the murder of Chicago’s mayor and America’s first, and perhaps most prolific, serial killer, Dr. H.H.H. Holmes.

  6. Jayme Says:

    My trusted sources, I thank you! I was wondering about the Kennedy book, good to know it’s a thumbs up.

  7. carine Says:

    Oh, Jesus, what do I read first now? How nice to know I’ll only need to come to this page next time I wonder what my next book should be!

  8. carine Says:

    And love that painting!

  9. Kathleen Barry Says:

    Try Rick Bragg for authentic Southern life for those who lived in poverty…He is a Pulitzer prize NEW YORK TIMES writer who now does the back page in SOUTHERN LIVING. Read first ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN’.
    And kudos to the Ray Bradbury suggestions…let me add DANDELION WINE..The APOLLO 15 astronauts named a moon crater after this book in Bradbury’s honor when they were up there!

  10. christie Says:

    Fab selections! Melissa, I took your recommendation on Shantaram and thought it the most wonderful read. I am off to the Kindle ether to find Tales of Otori, then I’ll read about hillbilly-bohemians and then Carine’s compelling drama and then… sorry, gotta go and start reading summer only lasts so long.

  11. Annice Says:

    I suggest “Carry Yourself Back to Me” by Deborah Reed – Country Girl, Country music, Murder, and Family Drama. It doesn’t get better than that.

  12. kellypea Says:

    I’m wondering why you’ve stopped posting and check in once in a while to see whether you have. I’ve kept two blogs for more than six years now and understand the need to step back from time to time. I’ll keep waiting…

  13. admin Says:

    Kellypea, thank you for checking in. We will be back! There are some changes in the works. Look for a new post by April. Thanks for your patience and support.
    All best wishes,
    Cathy and the crew

Tell us what you think

Subscribe without commenting