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What is your “Must Read” book of the summer?

I am slowly allowing myself to become human again. I have definitely been living in an artificial environment for the past six weeks and it is not easy to mainstream into the real world. In this six week time period I have focused almost exclusively on two summer classes. This required reading hundreds of pages, taking copious notes, and writing several thought-provoking analytical papers. This program is geared towards teachers, so we do the work of one semester in the span of just 12 class sessions. It is intense.

I also had to couple the stress of academic rigor with the adjustment of living the college dormitory lifestyle after nearly three decades of living on my own. My roommate had to cancel at the last minute due to emergency surgery, so I had an entire suite of rooms to myself. It is a good thing that I am an introvert by nature, because anyone who craves human contact on a regular basis would have gone stark, raving mad. Not only did I have a single room, but I was the only one living in the suite of three rooms. I had my own private bath (not a bad fringe benefit), but I also had no one with whom I could just shoot the breeze. It was a rather lonely existence, even for a loner like myself.

I will not go into detail about the quality of cafeteria food (or lack thereof). Suffice it to say that I had to learn to eat at certain times of the day (my schedule was NOT my own) and I am very weary of powdered eggs in the morning and salad bar for lunch and dinner.

I did not allow myself any outside life exposure: I did not log onto blogger; I did not watch the news; I did not tweet; I did not read a newspaper or magazine; I did not go to the store — not even a bookstore! Yesterday was the first time I entered the “normal” world and a friend and I went to see the Pixar movie, UP. What a great experience! It felt so good to laugh again and to realize that there is more to life that 17th Century Renaissance drama! So as you can tell, I am a little shell-shocked and in desperate need of learning to reconnect with the world.

So, I am desperate to fill my mind with fun, engaging novels that have absolutely nothing to do with British literature. I have about three weeks before I need to start focusing on teaching duties, and I want to clear my head for a portion of that time. I am in need of your assistance to help me select some great books, and my question for you is this: What book have you read over the past six weeks that you would classify a “must read” book? What book was your favorite? What book could you simply not put down? What book made you laugh out loud (or cry out loud)? Please comment below and help a fellow booklover find her way back into reality.

Perhaps I can compose a list of all the suggested books and write a summary post next week. I thank you in advance for you willingness to share.

22 Comments

  • Mel

    Here are a couple of very good 20th century novels you might like
    "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
    and "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery. Both of these books center around people whose life is centered on the books they read.

  • Carolina Gal's Literary Cafe

    I know exactly what you are talking about. This year was very intense going back to school for the first time in many year. This is the first year I did not want to read any intense book( think book), rather wanted to read books to have fun with( chick-lit). I just finished reading the Fixer Upper. What a hoot!! There was fiction, suspense, comedy. This is the book I am telling all my friends and bloggers to read for the summer.

  • ANovelMenagerie

    Welcome back, pumpkin! Missed you.

    I've read a ton this summer. I'm one book away from accomplishing my 100 books on J. Kaye's challenge. I never thought I'd read that much in my life!

    I've read SO man 7 out of 10 books this summer. But, I did just read a book that I really enjoyed called This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. It's being released August 6th or 7th. My review is posting then. For an easy summer read, I liked Jane Green's The Beach House. I just finished The Angel's Game… whew… intense book.

    I've got a lot of reads to go before my ARC pile is down.

    I'm happy to see you back!

    Sheri

  • farmlanebooks

    I've just finished The Other Hand (Little Bee in the US) by Chris Cleave. I'll have a review up soon, but it made me laugh it made me cry – I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. I highly recommend it.

  • Book Bird Dog

    I picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, literary fiction. If you like a gook USA thriller, try Born to Run by James Grippando. For a noir set in Greece, try The Black Monastery by Stav Sherez! Happy summer reading!

  • Thoughts of Joy

    In the past six weeks – only!?! My suggestion would be The Blue Notebook (Levine). You can read my thoughts here. It's fiction, but based on truth and it's "heart-wrenching and deplorable." Now that sounds enticing, doesn't it? lol Seriously, it's a topic that needs more awareness. If you want a beach read – this would not be the best choice.

  • Diane

    Oh I could suggest so many that I loved:

    Labor Day; Joyce Maynard
    God of War; Silver
    The Help; Stockett
    Calligrapher's Daughter; Kim

    My must summer reads:

    South of Broad; Conroy
    The Neighbor; Lisa Garner
    Now and Then; Sheehan

  • Kaye

    Hallelujah! You're back! We've missed you. I just finished Summer House by Nancy Thayer and just loved it and hated to see it end. Summer House and The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand are both set on Nantucket. The Castaways is also very good.

  • The Tome Traveller

    Just finished The Devil's Company by David Liss…great historical fiction/suspense/mystery. Also loved The Swan Maiden by Jules Watson, set in ancient Ireland with a little twist of fantasy mixed in.

    Glad you're back, Molly!

    Carey

  • Stephanie

    OK, these are the two books that I really loved this summer – The ARt of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Both were excellent books!!

  • Janel

    Welcome back to the real world! Sounds like you've had a serious case of brain strain, LOL!

    I just read Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and adored it. Going farther back Gods Behaving Badly sticks in my mind as a good one, but since these are both "older" books, you might have read them already.

    Glad to see you back!!

  • Suko

    My "must read" book this summer? Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. I read it at the beginning of the summer. I plan on concluding the season with the sequel, Farewell Summer.

    Any Jane Austen fans out there? I am giving away a new copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on my blog. Stop by and enter the drawing for this book!

  • Jenners

    Welcome back!!! Sounds like quite the intense time. I missed you!

    Sounds like you might want some nice light reading, so perhaps "Bitter Is the New Black" by Jen Lancaster is in order. : )

  • Beth F

    I just finished The Hunger Games — wow! A must read.

    Of course you could decided to read the Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire mystery series by Charlaine Harris . . . and then you could join the challenge I'm hosting (evil laugh!)

    But seriously, Hunger Games deserves all the hype it's gotten.

  • Liz

    Right now I'm into all things Jennifer Weiner, thanks to the wonderful Brene Brown, but I'm not sure they'd be your thing. Not sure they'd usually be my thing, either, but having just visited my sister and new little nephew I'm all about reading about babies and motherhood. However, while I was in Colorado, Kath recommended The Art of Racing in the Rain. I'm definitely interested in checking it out and you have the added plus of loving dogs! I think this one might be for you:)

  • Wrighty

    Welcome back Molly! And congrats on your hard work. There are already so many good books suggested here. I've got some new ones to check into myself! Whenever I need something light to read I love the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. They always make me laugh and there are 15 now. I'm also reading The Time Traveler's Wife because I always heard how good it was and it's anew movie out next month.

    I hope you get to relax for a bit and take care of you. It's so good to have you back to blogging!

  • Molly

    I just knew that I could count on all of you to make more some wonderful reading suggestions!

    Mel – I have read both Book Thief and Elegance of the Hedgehog and you are absolutely right – they are GREAT and I would highly recommend them to anyone who has not yet had the opportunity.

    Carolina Gal – The Fixer Upper is a great title and I need a book that is a "hoot" after this summer. I will definitely add this to the list!

    Sheri – thank you for the kind welcome. I cannot believe you have already read 100 books this year — you go girl! I will definitely add Beach House and the Angel's Game to my list and I look forward to reading your review of This is Where I Leave You.

    Jackie – I need to read a book that will make me both laugh and cry. Little Bee will definitely go on the list.

    Book Bird Dog – I absolutely love thrillers and will definitely check out Born to Run and the Black Monastery

    Thoughts of Joy – I have heard wonderful reviews of the Blue Notebook and it is already on the list. I will probably save the sobering book as a fall read, however.

    Diane – You have made so many wonderful suggestions and the only book that I have read on the list is The Help (I consider the best book read so far in 2009). I have so many new books to check out thanks to your awesome recommendations.

    Kaye – thanks for the warm welcome from a pudgy penguin 🙂 I have added The Castaways and The Summer House to the list. They sound like perfect end-of-summer reading material.

    Carrie – both the Devil's Company and the Swan Maiden sound great. I will check them out. And thanks for your kind words — I definitely missed all of you!

    Stephanie & Liz – The Art of Racing in the Rain will be waiting for me at the library when I get home. I actually put it on hold before I left because I KNEW it was a book for me. Stephanie, I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of the Everything Austen challenge!!

    Janel – I have had a request in at the library for Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie since the end of May – and I am still number 20 on the list!! I plan to read the book as soon as my number is up, so to speak.

    Suko – I have only read Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury but I absolutely LOVE the book. Thank you so much for recommending these two works. I will definitely want to read them soon

    Jenners – You bring a smile to my face 🙂 Of course your suggestion is the perfect book for the end of a too-intense literary summer: Bitter is the new black!

    Beth F – I read the Hunger Games before BEA and loved it. I should actually read Catching Fire when I get home! And…..I may have to try to a Sookie Stackhouse mystery. If it is good enough for you, it should be good enough for me 🙂

    Jenny – I am very intrigued by the title, Skeletons at the Feast. I will definitely look that up at the library when I get home.

    Wrighty – thank you so much for the welcome back. I have the first Stephanie Plum book at home but have yet to read it. I think I will put that near the top of the TBR list because I hear it is a quick, fun read. I also want to read the author's book on Writing, since I took the writing class this summer.

    Thanks again for all these wonderful suggestions. I plan to spend hours at the library and bookstores when I get home. I am definitely going through withdrawal!

  • Margot

    Someone else mentioned Summer House by Nancy Thayer. I'll give it a second nod. Very nice summer book about three generations of women. Fun and light.

  • Suey

    The book I've loved the most so far this summer was by far The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. Loved it. And I didn't at all expect to.

    Can't wait to see the list you compile! What a fun idea!

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