Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

July 21, 2010

Summer Reading


I've been on a reading binge again. It's one of my favorite things.

Last night I finished Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I picked it up at the airport when we were coming home from Italy after finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (which I consumed in a couple days on our trip – definitely worth reading).
She's the author of The Time Traveler's Wife (which I completely loved).

I remember hearing not so great reviews about her newest book but decided to give it a chance. It's a strange tale – life and death and ghosts and in-between places. It's dark. It wasn't one that I would say I really liked – I definitely felt at a certain point I was just wanting to "make it through" – but there's something about it that kept me going and wanting to know how she was going to bring it to a conclusion. Often if I'm in the middle of a book and not enjoying it I'll just set it aside for another time (or just set it aside completely). With Her Fearful Symmetry I did want to know what happened and felt satisfied when I finished it late last night (even though the ending is definitely not what I was expecting).

Another book I have been reading (started before leaving for Italy and decided to leave it home because it's hardback) is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I'm completely fascinated with and engrossed in this non-fiction story and it's not the kind of book I normally find myself reading. It's the story of a woman, her cells, the history of cell research, her family, and the way it's all been weaved together over time. Highly recommended

Up next for me is most likely The Girl Who Played with Fire (the next one in the series following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) or Little Bee which I picked up this past weekend at the coast.

What have you read lately that you love (or didn't)?


FOLLOW-UP : I see that
Project Life by Becky Higgins is back in stock at Amazon.You can see how I've been approaching this album here and planning to play catch-up (in a non-guilty way) soon.


  • 51.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I read Sarah’s Key this spring and LOVED it. Heartbreaking…but really good.

  • 52.
    Ali Edwards said…

    Totally not on my top 10 list either…but definitely fun reads :) .

  • 53.
    stacey said…

    I actually did not like Little Bee – it did not live up to the hype. Poorly developed.
    The Help was excellent and I am enjoying The Lost city of Z.

  • 54.
    Jill D said…

    Funny but my mom gave me both The Girl whith the Dragon Tattoo and Little Bee this weekend to read and I have Time Traveler’s Wife on my bedside table. I also am working on updating Project Life (have pictures printed and need to organize). Funny when you read something that sounds like you could have written it yourself.

  • 55.
    lilith said…

    I am totally in love with “One Day” by David Nicholls. IT IS BRILLIANT. Really.

  • 56.
    Jennie said…

    i picked up little bee too, and also have devil in the white city for this summer. my fave summer reads are always to kill a mockingbird and breakfast at tiffany’s. i reread them all the time!

  • 57.
    Amanda Susan said…

    I read Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah a few months ago. One of the best I’ve read this year. Goes along with your theme of story this year.

  • 58.
    April said…

    I just finished Sarah’s Key. I was quite emotional, and I learned a bit too. I’d highly recommend it. It was written interesting enough, even if I never did truly buy into the main character being an American expat.

  • 59.
    Kelly said…

    I’m on the 3rd installment of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I love these books! I’m hoping to finish ready in on my vacation. Thanks for the other recommendations. I’ve heard The Help is really good as well.

  • 60.
    Mary H. said…

    I just finished reading “Her Fearful Symmetry” last week and I completely agree with you. It was an odd story, but I really needed to know how it would turn out. It sure made think about what I believe as far as eternal life and the afterlife. Plus…what a statement on people and the choices we make.
    I read “The Help” last month and loved it! I’m on vacation for 2 weeks starting Saturday, so I need to stock up on some good reading. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • 61.
    Noell Hyman said…

    Lately I’ve fallen in love with an author named Richard Russo. I picked up one of his books a few months ago and realized that his style had similar qualities to the style I’m trying to achieve with the novel I’m currently writing (I’m on the first revision, 2nd draft).
    Now I’m on my 4th book of his and really enjoying his great stories. I feel he’s not afraid to become vulnerable as an author because he really exposes his characters and makes them so real. That’s the most important thing for me when choosing books to read.

  • 62.
    Karen in VA said…

    I just finished the 3rd book in the Girl with the Dragon Tatoo series! They are excellent and all three were sooooo very hard to put down.

  • 63.

    I just reread To Kill a Mockingbird…it’s as powerful as ever…and then I read Mockingbird, which is a biography of Harper Lee. Fascinating.
    I loved The Help…and now I’ll have to read Little Bee, after all these comments!

  • 64.
    Deirdre said…

    Karen Maezen Miller’s Momma Zen is the best thing I’ve read recently. A lovely memoir that I’m glad I bought; I’ll definitely reread. I think you’d really like Here If You Need Me too.
    Fiction-wise, I just picked up Little Bee at a sidewalk Library sale, almost solely because I loved the cover;) I’ll be starting it as soon as I finish Of Human Bondage, a favorite of my dad’s that I’ve never read and am really enjoying.
    I was also pleasantly surprised by The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’d read mixed reviews but really enjoyed the letter format and historical context.
    Lastly, ever since you mentioned that Anna loves “Goodnight Gorilla” I wanted to suggest “Ten Minutes to Bedtime” for Simon to read to her. It’s about a little boy getting ready for bed, by the same author, with all sorts of inside jokes/tie-ins to Goodnight Gorilla. All my kids love it:)

  • 65.
    Melissa Ladd said…

    I love to get new book ideas!!
    I totally agree about Her Fearful Symmetry…just not as good as Time Traveler’s Wife.
    I recently read The Other Boleyn Sister…it was so-so.
    The Help was amazing, a definite must read! I also enjoyed Little Bee.
    I am going to start reading the Book Thief next and then I hope to pick up the Girl with Dargon Tattoo series. We saw the movie and liked it.

  • 66.
    Kristy said…

    I’m within 100 pages of the end of Pillars of the Earth! I’m loving it and will be so sad when it ends. I happened to see that it is coming out as a miniseries this weekend on Starz…unfortunately I don’t get that channel.
    I also read Sarah’s Key recently and really enjoyed that one as well.

  • 67.
    april said…

    I loved Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins have been flying around our camp staff this summer. Everyone has been finishing them in a day or two. SO GOOD! Can’t wait for #3 next month!

  • 68.
    Michelle (fom KY) said…

    We must be of like minds. Not only do I love Europe (I have not been to Italy-totally jealous), but I have Dragon Tattoo waiting on my nightstand. I just finished Sizzlin Sixteen by Janet Evanovich. LOVE her books. THey are so funny and easy reads…..all of them are worth reading!!

  • 69.
    tara pakosta said…

    1. The puzzlebark Tree–I liked it even though it was a predictable love story!
    2. Love in the Present Tense–LOVED THIS ONE! by Catherine Ryan Hyde….
    3. The Stepmother by Carrie Adams–LOVED IT!
    4. nearer than the sky–disturbing and sad, but pretty good.
    5. have you read, STill Alice yet? about alzheimers, love love loved it!
    6. my most favorite books ever read are: Sarah’s Key, Whistling in the Dark, The Help, The Poisonwood Bible, The Thirteenth Tale, Those Who Save Us, The Kite Runner. these are all old faves, but if you haven’t read them yet, SOOOOOOOO good!!!
    7. the Last Summer of you and me by Ann Brashares.
    okay, that’s it for now!!! have fuN!

  • 70.
    Cindy C said…

    I am currently reading the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, also. So far this summer I have read Merlot Murders, Still Life with a Woodpecker, Peter Pan,and The curious incident of the dog in the night-time.

  • 71.
    Robin W said…

    One I recently enjoyed was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. Don’t let the funny sounding title put you off. It is a good fictional story about the Guernsey islands after WWII, and it’s written in letter form by many inhabitants on the island. I’m not doing it justice, but it’s one my husband and I both read and enjoyed.

  • 72.
    tara pakosta said…

    LOVED Sarah’s Key, on my list of top faves!

  • 73.
    Jennifer Henson said…

    Recently finished the Help which I enjoyed and am reading (almost done with) Run like a Mother. Great book! :)

  • 74.
    Ali Edwards said…

    I loved Run Like A Mother too – totally inspirational and very real :) .

  • 75.
    Nina Newton said…

    So glad you mentioned “Sarah’s Key” – it is heartbreaking but a wonderful story of the strength of the human spirit in the face of insurmountable tragedy. Also love Jodi Picoult, just finished “Change of Heart” – rather strange characters, but fascinating story. And then . . . . someone mentioned “The Pillars of the Earth” which I read a year or so ago and absolutely love it!
    Thank you for the other great suggestions – for the first time in my life, I am living in an area (rural Indiana) where we do not have free access to a library. I’ve saved up my $100 to buy a library card for a year, so I am ready to go load up on some books for the rest of my summer reading!

  • 76.
    donaB said…

    Read recently and loved:
    The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss – a story from several different perspectives that weaves itself all together in a surprising way at the end. My book group unanimously loved this one.
    Tallgrass, by Sandra Dallas – about a Japanese internment camp in Colorado, told from the perspective of a young girl living on a sugar beet farm near by. Lovely sense of place and time.
    A sweet but possibly hard to find book that had been in my to-read stack forever – A Country Year, by Sue Hubbell. It is a quiet, softly spoken book that carries some weight and which will stay with you a while. A collection of essays that turns through a year of seasons by a bee keeper living in the Ozarks.
    Another vote for The Help.
    And not great literature, but a fun read – I, Mona Lisa, by Jeanne Kalogridis. I read it while recovering from a bad flu. Great distraction without requiring too much attention.
    I love the used book section in my local bookstore!

  • 77.
    karen said…

    I just finished The Forgotten Garden and really liked it. Before that I read Lonesome Dove (totally not my genre usually) but it was amazing. When I looked it up on amazon I was surprised by how many people claimed it as one of their favorite books of all time. right now i am reading aimee bender’s “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” not done yet but I am really loving the story and specifically her writing. quite different and truly spectacular.

  • 78.
    Vivi Vinci said…

    I love when the topic is summer reading — I get some of the best suggestions! I just finished reading Get Lucky by Katerine Center. It is cute, light, and funny. And I just got caught up with Janet Evanovich’s series and finished Plum Spooky and Sizzling Sixteen.

  • 79.
    pam said…

    I’m currently reading Stolen Lives: 20 years in a desert prison. It’s depressing because of the deplorable prison conditions, but gives great insight into living in Morocco. Also read Outlander which is the 1st book in the series by the same name – really interesting fiction of Scotland in the 1700′s. Would recommend The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Settlefield – really wonderful writing.
    I could go on and on as I’m a biliophile now that I’m retired.

  • 80.
    MaryAnn Kearns said…

    I stumbled onto Kristin Hannah this summer too….really great NW writer….I loved Firefly Lane, True Colors and reading Winter Garden………
    also a fun quick read was ” The Second Time Around” — you would like it Ali.

  • 81.
    pam said…

    I really loved that one, too.

  • 82.
    pam said…

    Loved Sarah’s Key – my daughter loaned it to me.

  • 83.
    LisaZ said…

    Just finished reading ‘Summer on Blossom Street’ by Debbie Macomber. I’m loving the Blossom Street series and I’m looking forward to reading the latest installment, “Hannah’s List”, later this summer.
    BFF gave me a book by a local author about Mackinaw Island romances…that will be my next read. I love reading things about Mackinaw because I’d really love to take the boys there sometime. It was one of my favorite summer time treats to go there when I was a kid…I’m hoping my boys would like it there, as well.

  • 84.
    Sarah K said…

    Two recent favorites of our bookclub were “Beneath a Marble Sky” by John Shors, and “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer. Both are AWESOME!

  • 85.
    Deonne said…

    Not a this summer read, but I highly recommend “The Art of Racing in the Rain” to anyone who liked “Marley and Me”. Am currently listening to “The Middle Place” by Kelly Corrigan (see her amazing YouTube video too) and just finished “Stolen Innocence”. Also reading “The Bishop” by Steven James. Have read and enjoyed “One Thousand White Women” with my bookclub and like another commenter, I’m in LOVE with “A Girl Named Zippy” and have gotten part way through the book about her mother “And She God Up Off the Couch”. And count another vote for “Water for Elephants.” Will definitely have to check out the Henrietta Lacks book next.

  • 86.
    Deonne said…

    “Operating Instructions” by Anne Lamott is also very good.

  • 87.
    Leigh Penner said…

    I felt the same way when reading Her Fearful Symmetry. I too finished it, but only to find out what happened. Very dark and disturbing. (And wierd. I mean, just move away from your twin and live your own life.)
    I reread Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, in preparation for book 6′s release in Sept. Great at the beach reading!
    Right now I’m reading Eat. Pray. Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

  • 88.
    karen said…

    ditto on The Art of Racing in the Rain. I thought it was much much much better than Marley and Me.

  • 89.
    gina f. said…

    With 5 kids home for the summer I haven’t had time to read books. I have Living magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors, as well as a quilting magazine on my night stand that I am trying to get through. I want to puck up Eat, Love Pray and read it before the movie comes out.

  • 90.
    Myra said…

    Very similar tastes in books here! My alltime favorite is Pillars of the Earth, which is a mini-series on Starz starting on Sat. YAY! Other favorites are: The Help, The Forgotten Garden, The Physicks Book of Deliverance Dane, The Kite Runner and Three Cups of Tea.
    I read Her Fearful Symmetry and can’t decide whether I liked it or not. Weird for me, as I’m usually highly opinionated about books.

  • 91.
    colleenrossi said…

    Just finished reading The Help which will remain one of my FAVORITE books…the book actually brought me to tears…what an emotional journey, but well worth it to read. I also am re-reading Eat, Pray, Love in preparation for my MOVIE party and MOVIE event. :-) Colleen

  • 92.
    Jennifer said…

    I am currently finishing No Place Like Home: a memoir in 39 apartments by Brooke Berman.
    One I read in the last 6 months that I LOVED is The Birth House by Ami McKay. Amazing, unforgettable book.

  • 93.
    Christine H said…

    Have been on a non-fiction and get healthy kick for about a year now. Loved all the Malcolm Gladwell books. Picked up nutrition info from Michael Pollan, Jonny Bowden, Tosca Reno, Eat this/Not that books, Flat Belly Diet (not following any plan, just gathering info and recipes to eat healthy), Jillian Michaels, Women/Food/God (so-so), Mark Bittman, Eat This and Live. Like I said, not following any one plan/idea. Just making better informed choices.

  • 94.
    pattiQ said…

    Great question, I love talking about books! I just finished The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff; Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford; the Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean. All were great reads. I belong to 2 bookclubs so get to read alot of books! Thanks for the post Ali, I love your blog and your work!

  • 95.
    pattiQ said…

    Loved the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, great book!

  • 96.
    pattiQ said…

    Book thief was a great read, I was surprised that it was a young adult novel.

  • 97.
    Wendy said…

    I read Firefly Lane AWESOME book!!

  • 98.
    Natalie said…

    I’m reading Little Bee and I’m loving it. Can’t put it down. I’d love to know what you think after you’re done with it.

  • 99.
    cindy b. said…

    Oh..I just picked up those “The Girl with”…at Target. Got the first two since they were in paperback and on sale. Can’t wait to start those. Two books I recently finished were INFECTED, followed by the second book CONTAGIOUS. Now, the Infected book was a paperback I had picked up years ago at Borders and found it in my nightstand. It’s not a book I would normally read so I was admittedly like…”why the heck did I buy this book?” However, once I started this book I could NOT stop!! It was very suspenseful and had me earning for more as soon as I was finished. (I didn’t even know there was a sequel book). Anyway, it is a science-futuristic suspense thriller and I really enjoyed it! If you look it up on Amazon and think you’d like it just let me now…I’d be happy to send both books to you!! I love reading so I always enjoy your posts about what you are currently reading.

  • 100.
    Wendy said…

    Cecelia Ahern is one of my favorite authors.( author of P.S. I Love You) I LOVE the Harry Potter books, Traveling Pants series, Memoirs of a Geisha, anything by Debbie Macomber. I loved the Twlight series too. I am currently reading the True Blood series. I have the Percy Jackson series up next. I’m always looking for a good read so thanks for all the great ideas!

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