Summer Fiction Round Up

Read anything good by the beach or pool this summer? Or perhaps lounging lazily in the shade or three-seasons room? (That last one has been a favorite for me this year, I will say.) While this not-quite-summer has definitely sped by at a disturbing pace, I realized that I have managed to get in quite a bit of reading. Probably less personal enrichment reading than I should be doing for this blog, but I was entertained nonetheless. And isn’t that kind of what summer is about? Not taking things so seriously for a few months?

If you’re looking for a few good reads to take you into the fall, here are a handful of titles for your perusal:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Full disclosure on this one – I listened the audiobook of The Gold Finch, not the print version. I think reading it would have been better, honestly. The story was intriguing, and the main character Theo was pretty likable. But with the audiobook, I was at the mercy of the narrator’s speed, which was a bit slow – it made the book drag on for longer than had I just read it myself. (I know there’s a speedier option, but it’s just a bit too fast for fiction.) For some reason high literary critics have been panning this book, but I don’t really see it. Maybe something too obvious? Readers to have to watch Theo dive headfirst into an existential crisis, and then fight his way out, but many books do that without attracting the ire of the Academy. I would still recommend this book – maybe just not the audio version.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Charming is probably the best word to describe this story. It’s several years old, so getting a copy at the library should be a breeze. The story is told through letters between all the characters, mainly from an author who is searching for next book subject following World War II. She receives a letter from a rather remote island that sets of a series of correspondence that is a joy to read and, without sounding too sentimental, warms the heart.

Away Your Reply by Dan Chaon

This one will leave you with the desire to change all your passwords, and a little more suspicious of that quiet neighbor. Chaon’s novel is really three separate stories in one, and while reading, you wonder if they’ll ever come together. I won’t say whether or not they do, that might ruin it. This is an enthralling, fast-paced story – it leaves you thinking, but is still entertaining enough for the beach or travel.

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

Binchy rarely disappoints with her stories, and this is no exception. In her usual style, the novel is filled with a wide cast of characters with a diverse range of backgrounds that all weave together beautifully. You’ll be completely absorbed in their lives. At an unexpected bed and breakfast on the Irish coast, a woman rebuilds her life, and we learn about the tenants during “a week in winter.” Binchy writes vivid descriptions of the landscape in late fall and early winter that provide relief from the heat of summer. You can feel the chilly mist off the ocean and hear the waves crashing on the rugged coastline.

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