Saturday, September 23, 2017

Summer Reading Sizzles!

July 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 


summer reading title


hipster girl reading a book on the boatWhen we say summer reading, we don’t mean assigned books and reports in September. Instead, we envision a warm sun, cool shade, an even cooler drink, and a hot chance to relish reading the kinds of books that elude us while living our frenzied lives.

The following are recommendations from readers of our magazine. Some are nautical, most are not, but each one made enough of an impression on someone who discovered a new title or experienced a beloved author again. Enjoy!



A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman. It’s a heartwarming story about dealing with the loss of a loved one and making new friendships.

Trust No One by Paul Cleave. A psychological thriller about a crime fiction author who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and begins to think he might have actually committed the murders he wrote about in his books.


How to Eat a Lobster and Other Edible Enigmas Explained by Ashley Blom. For giggles — a one-hour read I loved.

The Job by Steve Osborne. A book of short stories about being an NYPD cop.

Cooking for Mr. Latte:  A Food Lover’s Courtship, with Recipes by Amanda Hesser. Charming.


Jack Tar and the Baboon Watch: A Guide to Curious Nautical Knowledge for Landlubbers and Sea Lawyers by Capt. Frank Lanier. The title alone should stop you dead in your tracks! It’s a collection of everything odd, weird, and unbelievable, like why Titanic was possibly the worst name ever for a ship.


The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose, a trilogy by Jennifer Donnelly. The series starts in London in 1888 and recounts the story of an Irish immigrant and her plight. Give them a read for a full summer adventure.


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. This novel will give you some insight into the mind of a person with Asperger’s, all the while laughing at his analytical approach to finding a mate to share his life.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. It takes an act of bigotry and shows how many lives it can destroy. On the flip side, perceptions will be changed regarding prejudice — it’s a very thought-provoking book.


Sharks Have Feelings Too by Dave Portnoy. It’s about the everyday dangers sharks go through.


Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness by University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein. I learned insights about our society and how our actions are determined whether we realize it or not.


Waiting for Aegina by Effie Kammenou. The best book I read this year!


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. A story of four male friends spanning events in their lives from college thru adulthood. One of the best books I’ve read! Stays with you long after you finish.


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. People who liked The Girl on the Train may like this. (I did not like the latter but did enjoy the former.) It’s set on a ship, so appropriate!


Erholung auf hoher SeeThe Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers. It’s an astoundingly good debut novel about the end of the Civil War, an absent husband and major, a 15-year-old bride, and a baby who died. This is the kind of book you stumble across and never want to put down again.

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton. An amazing read about a mother’s quest through the frozen dark night that is winter in Alaska. Not a typical summer read, but a bloody amazing book, for sure!

ScandiKitchen: Fika and Hygge: Comforting Cakes and Bakes from Scandinavia with Love by Bronte Aurell. Everything you need to know about Scandinavian baking and how to eat it. Recipes, little stories of where they come from, and of Scandi life in general. An absolute must have!


The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Good mystery book.


Rembrandt’s Shadow by Janet Lee Berg. There’s SO much good to say about both the book and the author!


Effortless Healing by Dr. Joseph Mercola. Simple ways to side step illness, shed unwanted pounds, and help your body heal itself.


Sex Object by Jessica Valenti. A memoir that takes you through her journey of objectification and feminism.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The story of Theodore Decker, who survives a terror attack at the age of 13, and his journey through life and crime.


Faith by Sharon Salzberg. A beautiful and purposeful memoir about Sharon’s journey towards peace through Buddhist teachings and meditation (the notion of faith as a practice can be applied to any path). The well-written stories are simple and relatable as well as thought-provoking.


The Magic of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. This is a very interesting magical mystery.


The Wonder by Emma Donahue. It’s about a miracle that may or may not be occurring in Ireland — a different look at a child being held “captive.”

Sweet Bitter by Stephanie Danler. A delicious book about the restaurant business in Manhattan and about a 20-something figuring life out.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. This is a book about a family in the 60s brought together and torn apart by a tragedy. The story unfolds and shows how life eventually makes clear as to why you are in each other’s lives (when you don’t understand why).

Who Thought This Was A Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonoco. A memoir about life in the Obama Whitehouse and how women shaped his administration. It’s a delightful story of politics and cats.


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. A washed-up child prodigy takes a cross-country road trip to prove a mathematical theorem he devised to predict any relationship’s future. Will this work? I couldn’t wait to find out.


Leonard Bernstein: An American Musician by Allen Shawn. It’s a beautifully written exploration of the life of the foremost American musical genius of the 20th century, warts and all.

There Was a Fire: Jews, Music and the American Dream by Ben Sidran. A cultural and musical history with a unique perspective.

Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink edited by David Remnick. A delicious collection of food writing by authors/chefs/foodies such as M. F. K. Fisher, Anthony Bourdain, A.J. Liebling, and many others. Don’t read without something good to eat in hand!


Life on Purpose by Victor J. Strecher. A book about enhancing both your longevity and the quality of life.


The Tea Planters Wife by Dinah Jefferies. A young woman leaves a comfortable life in England to marry a plantation owner in Ceylon and experiences all the joys and hardships that go along with it.

DistanceWinter Garden by Kristin Hannah. When their beloved father passes away, two sisters learn the truth about their cold, distant, seemingly unloving mother through a fairy tale that she has told them throughout their lives.

Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Two sisters experience WWII in very different ways. One sleeps with the enemy in order to survive while the other joins the Resistance and risks her life to save others.

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks. A man seemingly has it all: beautiful wife and family, a beautiful home, and a successful career. Until one day, he discovers that his life and family is not at all as it seems.

 The Rent Collector by Camron Wright. A young couple struggles while living and working in Cambodia’s largest garbage dump, as they try to make a better life for their child.


Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

The Last Lecture by Jeffrey Zaslow.


The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving.

Editor’s Picks:

golemThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.  A recommendation in a prior best boat books story — I am so glad I read it. It’s a story of two supernatural immigrants to New York, one from Jewish and one from Arab lore. They meet one fateful night and the result is more human than you’d expect. Just like the golem, the story is well crafted; I can’t wait for the sequel.

waitingWaiting for Aegina (The Gift Saga Book 2) by Effie Kammenou. For maximum enjoyment, read Evanthia’s Gift, the first in this planned trilogy, before immersing yourself in this wonderful family saga. At times, you’ll find yourself envying the strength and friendship of the characters, and at other times you’ll be nodding and thinking how well the author has captured life’s downs and ups.

chestnutChestnut Street by Maeve Binchy. I was a fan of Firefly Summer (and other works by Binchy), so this book of short stories published after her death immediately appealed to me. This is a perfect book for a leisurely afternoon or a respite from a hectic adventure. Each story is short, but the characters are brought to life fully. There are many smiles, a few frowns, but ultimately nothing but affection for the inhabitants of one street across the pond.

goldfinchThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. It was the rare page that didn’t cause me to catch my breath and say, “Wow!” because of the superb writing and skillful character development. (See Sheryl’s previous recommendation for a brief storyline.)

stars in heavAll the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. As an adoring fan of this author, I’m inclined to embrace every new book. As usual, this one embraced me back! Readers are transported into the world of 1930s Hollywood and a movie romance with Clark Gable that changed Loretta Young’s life. I didn’t want it to end!

happier10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris. The title sums up the book, and the book is worth your while.

american sicknessAn American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal. This isn’t light reading, but it sure illuminates how hospitals and pharmaceutical companies drive up health care costs.

bitter pillAmerica’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill. If you’re going to read An American Sickness, read this as well, as it delves into the passage of the ACA and all the for-profit players who had to have their hands all over healthcare.

gatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Sure, I read it in high school. However, I didn’t appreciate its message and Fitzgerald’s brilliant writing until I read it again recently.




On my radar:

Lighthouses of the World by Marie-Haude Arzur.

Instant Weather Forecasting: You Can Predict the Weather Paperback by Alan Watts (revised and updated).


By Lita Smith-Mines


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