I’m leaving for the Florida Keys tomorrow and am hoping that, despite it being a work trip, I have a little bit of time to catch up on my summer reading. A curious thing has happened this year: I’ve started getting up at 6am (sometimes earlier) and, as a result, I start falling asleep at the computer (or in front of the TV) as early as 10pm (as opposed to midnight or later, my usual bedtime).
Why is this problematic? Well, it’s not, I suppose—except that it has robbed me of all my reading time, which traditionally has been a half an hour (or more, if I can’t fall asleep) before bedtime.
Still, I’ve managed to check off a small handful of books this year—though it’s been some time since my last book post—and here’s what I’ve read:
The New Paris by Lindsey Tramuta-Morel
Lindsey, who moved from Philly to France right after college (and later married a Parisian), is a long-time writer friend-turned-IRL friend, and I couldn’t have been happier for her to get her baby, The New Paris, published finally. I pre-ordered it the second it went on sale and was pleased as punch when I got this coffee table stunner in the mail. But it’s more than just gorgeous photography from NYC photog Charissa Fay; it’s clear Lindsey poured her heart and soul into this book, which is full of stories, vignettes and profiles written in her characteristic journalist style. The perfect gift for any lover of food, European culture or striking imagery.
All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter
There’s no denying that Geraldine DeRuiter, lover of cake and purveyor of pithy Tweets, is one of the funniest writers on the Internet. Her blog, The Everywhereist, should be required reading for ladies—and men, too, for that matter—across the US and abroad. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Geraldine in her stomping grounds of Seattle a few times now, and she’s every big as delightfully lovely—and hilarious—in person. Her memoir, All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft is more or less an extension of her blog and will have you rolling from the first page on, with humor-laden tales of getting lost, losing her job, marrying the love of her life and, yes, even finding out she had a brain tumor (who, true to her form, she gave a persona, Steve). The great thing about the style of this hilarious read is that each chapter can be read as a standalone, so you can save them for when you need a really good belly laugh (and with the direction the world is headed, I’m guessing that’s often). Warning: Not for the uptight reader who can’t handle a good use of expletives and the occasional political banter.
The Young Wives’ Club by Julie Pennell
I’m a sucker for chick lit (particularly in summer months), and it’s a bonus if the book is set in the South. Written by my industry pal Julie—are you sensing a trend? this is the year all my friends published books, clearly! in fact, all five of these recommendations were written by people I know, come to think of it—The Young Wives’ Club chronicles the lives of four Louisiana-raised best friends in their late teens and early-20s as they navigate new marriages, engagements, affairs and other summer flings. One suspects her pastor husband is straying as he starts being spotted in places he shouldn’t, another follows her high school boyfriend-turned-husband to LSU as he pursues a football career, a third finds herself ensnared in a lie (and engaged to a Congressman’s son as a result), and the fourth winds up in a marriage of convenience in order to help out her family, who is on the brink of bankruptcy. Julie traditionally has written more teen- and YA-centric works, so I was eager to see how that would transition to adult fiction (spoiler alert: it works!). As someone who grew up in a small town not much bigger than Toulouse, much of this book felt like a throwback to my high school years, as plenty of my friends did get married fresh out of high school.
The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook By Laura Lea Goldberg
The constant struggle to eat clean is real, particularly when I’m only home a few days here and there between trips and my pantry is far from prepared. While SVV was in California for 10 days, I spent some time reading up on changing my lifestyle and actually cooking for myself for a change, and I can tell you that my Nashville friend (and holistic chef) Laura Lea Goldberg’s book is a game-changer. It’s not just a cookbook, it’s a tome; the first 57 pages are packed with pantry staples, tips on incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, what to do with leftovers, etc., and I read every last word before diving headfirst into LL’s carefully thought out recipes. I cannot recommend this book enough—if you buy one food-related book this year, make it The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook. Her approach to food is to make it realistic—”cooking isn’t a rote set of steps to follow,” she muses—but also help you live a more balanced lifestyle.
Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
I worked with Rumaan at Conde Nast a decade ago, so was eager to pick up his first novel, which came out last year. I started this read at the beginning of the summer on a flight, and I’m honestly not sure why it took me so long to finish—my speculation is that the two main characters, for which the title was derived, were so borderline insufferable at times that I almost cringed to find out what they’d do next. At its core, Rich and Pretty is a coming-of-age read about a pair of best friends who take very different paths after college, but especially once they reach their 30s; one, often referred to as “pretty,” is single, still sleeping around and attempting to climb the ladder at a publishing house, while the other, “rich,” is newly married and pregnant and has no real direction with her life, nor does she need to with the kind of wealth she was born into. There isn’t a plot per se, but the book was extremely well-written with plenty of biting commentary; I’m always stunned that a male writer can peer into a woman’s mind and depict it with such startling accuracy. Not for everyone as the book didn’t have a clear rise and fall, nor was there much conflict, but at the end, I did quite enjoy the journey.
For the beach, I’ve downloaded Danube Defiance, Before The Fall, The Wonder, Reconstructing Amelia and Truly Madly Guilty, and I’m approximately 112th on the library waitlist for Spoonbenders and The Handmaid’s Tale (seriously, how did I not read this in my Gender Studies classes in college?).
What are you reading in these hot summer months?