A packed summer reading list | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Jul 31, 2019

It’s been four months since a truck rear-ended my car in a Seattle tunnel, totaling the car, injuring my neck, and rattling my brain to the extent that PTSD continues to plague me. I am thankful for doctors, for my physical therapist, for the “new” pre-owned car I now drive, feeling safer than I felt in my 2005 model.

It’s become a summer of appreciating small incidents and experiences. I spend more time than usual sitting on my deck reading a novel while my cat stretches out near my chair. I smile at her sun-induced near-coma and sometimes feel compelled to go stroke her hot fur.

She lifts her head an inch or so, half-opens her blue eyes to check my ID, and puts her head back down to resume her nap.

I enjoy reading novels year-round, but I agree with others who say that summer reading is special. The choices are broad. Several of my readers have asked recently what I’ve been reading. Best-seller? I recently finished “Where the Crawdads Sing,” a marvelous first novel by Delia Owens, at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for a long time.

I can scarcely get my mind around the fact that someone can write such a significant first novel. Wow!

One weekend I read W. Bruce Cameron’s “A Dog’s Journey,” a wonderfully imagined novel of loyalty and love – the author already celebrated for his prior best seller, “A Dog’s Purpose.”

Both of those books remind me of one of my favorite reads ever, Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” which perhaps you’ve noticed is now a movie. I can hardly wait to see it.

Garth Stein was a presenter at an Edmonds Write on the Sound conference a number of years ago; he co-founded the “Seattle7Writers,” and encourages aspiring authors. His novel “A Sudden Light” waits on my to-read stack.

Today I finished Barbara Kingsolver’s 2018 novel, “Unsheltered,” which several readers in the Creative Retirement Institute “Fact and Fiction” group enthusiastically recommended this spring. Last week I read Anne Tyler’s recent “Clock Dance,” her 22nd novel, as I recall. Tyler is an author I always enjoy, with characters whose hearts touch my heart. I wish I could write like Tyler, whose characters are rich with individuality. Great summer reads.

I’m beginning “Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy,” by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. I think sometimes her language – and perhaps her opinions – might offend some readers, but I cannot imagine faulting her honesty and her willingness to wade into issues of sorrow, struggle, and grace.

Next week I plan to begin an important 2019 book, “Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do,” by Jennifer L. Eberhardt. Other books on my summer to-read stack include “Warlight,” a 2018 novel by the author of “The English Patient,” Michael Ondaatje.

And, something chilly to read during hot August days, “Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod,” by Gary Paulsen. (I can’t overcome a vague longing to experience the Iditarod.)

 

 

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