12 June 2011

Summer reading--what's on your list?

I have grand plans to get a LOT of reading done this summer.  In between basketball camp, Vacation Bible School, zoo day camp, trips to the pool and oh yeah, making dinner once in a while and trying to manage (notice that eliminate was not the word of choice) Mt. St. Dirtyclothes.

Here are a few of the titles on my list:

Right now, I am reading Love, Greg and Lauren, which is haunting and beautiful and inspiring.  It's a compilation of emails written by Greg Manning beginning on 11 September 2001, when his wife Lauren was severely injured as she walked into her building at the World Trade Center.  As she stepped into the lobby, the elevator door opened and out exploded a giant fireball, created by burning jet fuel.  She was burned over 82 percent of her body.  Greg wrote almost daily email missives to keep the many family members, friends and acquaintances who were asking after her updated.  It's sometimes hard to read, because it really takes you back to that day.  As Greg recounts Lauren's struggle for survival and mentions things that happen during those days, I can feel my gut clench, just like it did back then.  I think about how far we have come (or not) since that day, the accomplishments and the losses.  Although I'm not finished with it and I don't know how it ends (I am not one of those readers who will read the last page first), it is inspiring to read about and be reminded of how we as a country pulled together in those dark days.  I found it by pure chance at the library;  we had gone to sign up the little people for the summer reading program and they were gathering up their own summer reading.  I was waiting sort of patiently for them to inspect every title on the shelves and glancing at a cart of books to be out back and there it was. 

I had just started Best Friends Forever  by Jennifer Weiner when I picked up Love, Greg and Lauren, so I decided to set it aside for the time being.  I bought BFF  and can read it anytime and the other is a library book. I love Jennifer Weiner's books.  I started reading her about nine years ago when the middle boy-child was just an itty-bitty.  Her books are sort of fluff, chick lit if you will, and yet they're never silly.  They address serious topics in a relatable way, and her characters are always people you feel like you know.  She's funny and her characters are often self-deprecating, and snark abounds.  And just when you think the main character is getting really annoying with the self-deprecating feeling-sorry-for-herself-ness, you get a heartbreaking glimpse of why.  She tells a compelling story in an enjoyable and entertaining way, and it's hard to put her books down.  It's not necessarily because she writes so suspensefully that you HAVE to know what happens next, it's just that her stories are so fun to read that you don't want it to end. 

I have been hearing about The Hunger Games trilogy quite a bit lately and wanted to check it out.  I picked up an e-copy of the first book for $5 and I'll start that next.  I flipped through it at the store and it looked interesting.  It's kind of futuristic but not in a space-agey sort of way, and it's a fascinating look into what could be if we as a human race allow it.  I've heard a lot of positive reviews from my reading friends so I'm anxious to see what it's all about.  It's not the kind of thing I'd normally pick up, but sometimes those are the best finds of all.

I have on my list some faith reading as well.  I really enjoy Max Lucado and I want to read Fearless,  as well as When God Whispers Your Name, which I just picked up at the local used bookstore.  Outlive Your Life is another one.  I don't know how many I will actually get through but I have a long list of his books on my to-do list. One book that has been recommended to me, more than once actually, by my friends is The Passion of Mary Margaret, which is faith fiction and sounds compelling.  A few others are Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith with the Poor Clares and Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, both recommended by my friend WriterMommy who always has a great reading list, great perspectives and is an awesome book club organizer, yo!  My friend Lynn has been reading and quoting Thomas Merton of late and has gotten me quite curious, so I'm planning to carve out some time for that too. 

It sounds like a pretty ambitious reading list for summer.  I'm already on it.  We have instituted some new rules in the house this year and I'm working on enforcing the old ones to make more time for lying around reading and less time for video games and movies.  Not that there's anything wrong with those, in moderation, but books are where it's at.  The last couple of nights, after pajamas and teeth-brushing, the boys and I all piled into bed with our books, and they got upset after an hour when I made them stop reading so they could go to bed.  I'm digging that.

What's on your summer reading list?