Summer Reading List 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reading by Bulinna
So, here you are, smack dab in the middle of summer, and it's hot - insufferably hot.  And you're bored and wiped out and feeling like all you'd rather do right now is sprawl out on the sofa, the currents of your air conditioner swirling around you, or sit under your favorite shade tree, with a good book.  If that is your plight and if that is your deepest desire (because, really, how deep can you get with a heat index of 112?), then you've come to the right place.  It just so happens that I've got a few suggestions for you, right here in my back pocket.  What I have here is a list of books that are sure to keep you entranced, as you while away these hot summer days.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling: I know, it's odd to suggest the 5th book in a series, when I haven't even "suggested" the others yet.  And I must stress that this suggestion is only for those who have read the series already (or at least the first four).  However, for those of you who have seen Harry through his first four years at Hogwarts, I invite you to join me (and a few of my friends) as we begin Harry's fifth year.  If you've been following my posts thus far, you know that a few of us have started re-reading the series, one book a month, in honor of the upcoming first installment of the last Harry Potter movie. The goal is to have finished reading the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by the end of October.  I myself plan to begin reading Order of the Phoenix on July 31st (which also happens to be Harry's birthday).  It is a thrilling tale, as Albus Dumbledore would undoubtedly have said, and it would be so much fun if you came along with us.  

This volume is particularly fitting for August as it begins with a London heat wave.  I won't lie - this is my favorite of the HP7, though from this point on, everything starts to rush together, all of the stakes are higher, and there's just no point in trying to stop after 5.  You'll pick up 6.  You'll have to.  It will feel as though you've been placed under the Imperius Curse and are helpless to disobey.  And when you finish with The Half-Blood Prince, you will rush to grab the Deathly Hallows from your shelf (or go buy it, if you're one of the unfortunate few who haven't yet read the conclusion to the Harry Potter series) and will feverishly open that first page and dive in again.  The only challenge here is, can you pace yourself?  Can you save it for October, so that by the movie's release date, the book is still fresh in your mind?  Can you resist?

William Goldings Lord of the Flies  Lord of the Flies by William Golding:  This is one that I consider an essential summer read.  Many consider this a classic, but I fear that some people believe that classic = boring.  Not this book, my friends.  I would never do that to you.  This novel tells the story of a flock of private school boys who find themselves stranded on a deserted island, all alone, without a grownup in sight.  Like Neverland gone wrong, this tale is gritty and sometimes chilling as you see the darker side of humanity rear it's piggish head.  

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 25th Anniversary Edition  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams:  Alright, let's lighten up a bit, shall we?  If you haven't read it, I'm sure you've at least heard of it, and believe me, all the hype is WELL deserved.  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s and guaranteed to have you guffawing right out loud (something you might keep in mind if you plan on reading in public).  This is the first in the series, and you'll want to read them all, so buckle your seatbelts for a wild intergalactic ride.  Whatever you do, DON'T PANIC, and don't forget your towel.

Pardon Me, You're Stepping on My Eyeball! by Paul Zindel:  Ok, so Amazon didn't have a single image for this one.  I'm very disappointed.  But... nothing doing, we move on.  Some books are just personal.  This one was for me.  I read this book in my early teens and it has stayed with me ever since.  This is a book written for the YA market.  This is not a public service announcement or a sexy vampire thriller.  This story is more uncomfortable and more "real" than any of those things.  I could write an entire blog entry reviewing this book, but I'll try to make this brief.  This story follows two characters, a boy and a girl, misfits in their own worlds.  It is not a romance, per se, but a story of connection and alienation.  I don't know quite what to compare it with for you... maybe Harold and Maude?  But, the vibe, not the storyline.  Perhaps a touch of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?  But here, the story and (again) the vibe, not the heady philosophy.  I suppose I'll just have to ask you to trust me on this one.  If you've ever felt that, no matter who is with you, you're still on this journey alone, then this strange and beautiful book is for you.  

ItIt by Stephen King:  And now we come to our obligatory Stephen King.  Dispensing with the lengthy book titles I seem to have gravitated toward for this Summer Reading List, here is Sai King's shortest title, and one that may well be in the running for Shortest Book Title In History.  However It is NOT the shortest book at 1,104 pages, and so has lots to show you on these long summer days.  Many moons ago I mentioned that It is my favorite King novel.  Of course, this was also my first King novel, and it's hard to hold a candle to your first love.  But, I digress.  

It is the tale of the children of Derry, Maine, children who bond together as they fight for their lives against the most unspeakable terror... and then they grow up, and the nightmare begins again.  Page-turning suspense, intense friendship, strength of human character and more than a little connection to Sai King's "other worlds", this book is worth every last page. 

Life: The Adventure Continues

Friday, July 9, 2010

(This artfully done photo of summer corn can be found on Flicker here.)

Here we are.  It’s July.  And what do I have to say about it?  So far in my recent adventures in seasonal, local eating, I have found that there is no more broccoli (it “bolts” in the summer heat) and very little lettuce (went the same way as the broccoli).  I am assured that they will be back in autumn.  For now we have tons and tons of zucchini, other summer squashes (keep meaning to try those cute little pattypan squashes) and tomatoes.  I can find onions and potatoes and those precious jewels, blackberries, in abundance.  Raspberries are present, but still maddeningly expensive.  I think they must be considered a delicacy, whether they’re in season or not.  Maybe the plants aren’t quite as productive as blackberry bushes… or maybe just not many people grow them here.  Hmm… another on the list of “Things to Find Out”.  Then there are deliciously dripping, juicy peaches, and corn!  Fresh corn on the cob, grilled right in their husks (do remember to soak them, first!), is one of my favorite things about summer.  And that I can get it grown locally, and it hasn’t been scientifically spliced and modified and turned into some kind of herbicide-pest-resistant uber-corn?  The thought makes me positively giddy!  All in all, not a bad way to try to save the world.

In other news, the weather has been balmy, switching from blazing sun to earth-shaking thunderstorms with alarming swiftness.  There is all the energy and hard work that one would expect from a summertime spent focusing on the earth’s bounty, and trying to preserve as much as one can for winter.  But in my heart, I’m all fall.  I’m already yearning for crisp days and the changing of leaves.  I’ve got characters chattering away in my head and am feeling the pull of my manuscript, beckoning me to come and sit awhile, with a hot cup of coffee and a little good music.  I can feel myself drawing inward, wishing to block out the world and dive into my own.  I catch glimpses, more and more frequently, of worlds I’ve created, whispers of woods I need to revisit and fictional friends I need to catch up with.  But there is so much to do, and, as always, so very little time.

Bash on Twilight Day

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ok, for a little interim fun, I've decided today must be Bash on Twilight Day, because that's all I've been reading (one thing leads to another, and there you go).  But I figure that anything that fills me with this much glee HAS to be shared.  Note:  if you are a die-hard Twilight fan, don't bother to read any further... unless you're just looking for a reason to get pissed at me, in which case, be my guest.  For the rest of you, let the dissection begin!

 First we have Twilight on  This is a breakdown of each of the books in the series, and it is laugh-out-loud, crying, spewing your coffee (or water or tea or pop or whatever) through your nose funny.  I cried, I seriously cried, I was laughing so hard.

And now, the hilarity continues with this blog from Stoney321 on Live Journal.  She also goes through each book, pointing out many of the same points as Cracked (the creepiness of Bella & Edward's relationship, Bella's inherent weakness both as a character and a woman, the shoddy writing, etc.), but also lines out the parallels between the Twilight series and Mormonism... which is, admittedly, very interesting in a very bizarro sort of way.  You have to read it to see what I mean.  Each book has it's own blog entry, and there's a link to the next one at the bottom of each page, before the comments.  And, again, tears, friends... tears.

Alright, that's all I got for today.  I'm going to go home and recover now, catch my breath, see if I can control these giggles.  Oh, the pain!