5 Good Books: Volume 5

As we ease into the melting, mid-summer month of July, let’s cool off with a few refreshingly good reads. These are five books I highly recommend.

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By Theresa Braun

The Beach Read: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

I finished this book (with water welling in my eyes) as I stood waiting in line under the Eiffel Tower, but I recommend you read it while sprawled out in warm sand, letting the emotions it provokes crash over you like waves. In The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer weaves together the lives of six characters who first formed a bond at summer camp. That bond is tested as the teenagers enter young adulthood and then middle age, experiencing varying degrees of prosperity and personal growth. Told with graceful ambition, the novel explores themes of friendship, talent, power, and envy, challenging us to reflect on the choices we have made.

The Shorts: Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

Unpopular opinion: I enjoyed this collection of short stories more than Swamplandia!, Karen Russell’s novel and Pulitzer Prize finalist. Perhaps I found her gift for inventiveness better suited to telling a range of tales in bursts of magical fiction. Regardless, Vampires in the Lemon Grove delivers truly original stories, including a bully who encounters a scarecrow in the form of a classmate and dead presidents reincarnated as horses. As a whole, the collection is both whimsical and tragic, written with both precision and playfulness.

The (Sort of) Classic: The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy

This book is for anyone who wishes she was tearing into a croissant on the Left Bank of Paris right now. Largely underrated, Elaine Dundy’s first novel shares the Parisian adventures of a young American woman in the 1950s. Sally Jay Gorce is “hellbent for living,” fortified by wit, romance, and a few champagne cocktails. The novel opens on our gal hanging out on Boulevard St. Michel in an evening gown (naturally, because the rest of her clothes are at the laundry). From there, it follows the free spirit’s hijinks, from nightclubs to jail to the South of France. Rather than superficial, I found Gorce admirable; she seeks fulfillment, claiming to loathe “lazing around not learning anything, not accomplishing anything, not seeing anything new.” To top it off, The Dud Avocado even has Ernest Hemingway’s seal of approval: “I liked your book,” he told Dundy. “I liked the way your characters all speak differently…My characters all sound the same because I never listen.”

The Good Advice: How Should a Person Be? by Sheila Heti

This is not your typical self-help book. In fact, it’s not a self-help book at all. It’s not even nonfiction (technically speaking). But Sheila Heti’s brilliantly honest novel reveals the raw truths of female friendship and the life of an artist, asking (and attempting to answer) the questions of how we should love one another and ourselves. It’s both humorous and heartbreaking. It’s the spiritual handbook we didn’t think we needed.

The New Release: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

It seemed too good to be true: a new novel from Harper Lee. But on July 14, our middle school hearts can rejoice as we welcome the long hoped for sequel of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird. Picking up the story 20 years later, Go Set a Watchman revisits beloved character Scout Finch as she returns to her childhood home, facing personal and societal struggles in the context of a turbulent 1950s America. Remarkably, the novel has been published exactly as it was first written before Lee shelved it in the mid-1950s.

What’s on your reading list this month?

22 Responses to 5 Good Books: Volume 5

  1. Guess I’ll be adding to my summer reading lists. These all sound great.

    Happy Friday and happy Fourth of July!

    http://www.livinginsteil.com

  2. Judy Rosenblum says:

    So much to read, so little time; but I will clear my calendar for these recommendation! Thank you!!

  3. Mikayla says:

    I love that bookcase. Thank you for the suggestions. I will have to check on out!

    Mikayla | A Seersucker State of Mind.

  4. Thanks so much for your suggestions. I think #1 and #3 are catching my eyes

  5. Alessandra says:

    I’ve been looking for some new books! The Interestings was such a great read! I finished it last summer. Love the sound of #4. Going to check it out right now!

    Alessandra | The PumpUp Blog

  6. Meghan says:

    ‘The Dud Avocado’ sounds darling, I’ll have to pick it up I need something light to mix up with my other reading material. I’ve also been counting down the days until Haper Lee’s new book comes out, but I have to admit I’m a bit nervous to see how it turns out.

    xoxo,
    Meghan
    Southern Belle Secrets

  7. Kelly says:

    I have a huge stack of books I’m trying to work through this month! Glad to know another big reader!

    Kelly
    Ohio Stripes

  8. Jenny says:

    I am working on making a dent in my ever-growing reading list. Thanks for sharing some of your must reads.

    xoxo, Jenny || Breakfast at Lillys

  9. Love this list! Each book sounds really unique! I am adding these to my lists, I need a couple good books for my trip to Boston!

    xoxo

  10. Annie says:

    Definitely going to add some of these to my summer reading list! Thanks for the recommendations 🙂

    Annie // Annie N Belle

  11. Ashley Mason says:

    I’m so happy you posted this — I’m always looking for new books to read, so I’ll have to add these to my list!

    XO
    Ashley
    privateschoolprepster.blogspot.com

  12. Danielle says:

    This is such a great list. I’ve been trying to find some books to read lately. I’ll have to try reading a few of these . Thanks for sharing.

    xoxo, Danielle
    http://www.glamrme.com

  13. Nancy says:

    Thanks for this list, I am starting with Go Set a Watchman, I am excited about this…

  14. Jordyn says:

    These are such great and unique recommendations. I think The Interestings would be fascinating and How should A Person be? Intrigues me!

  15. The Dud Avocado sounds amazing! I’ve never even heard of it before! It’s officially on my summer reading list now 🙂

  16. Oh wow this is a great list of books! I can’t wait to read the last book Go Set a Watchman! 🙂 Thank you for this great list.

  17. Lauren says:

    Ah yay thanks for sharing! I have to check these out ASAP!

    xo
    Lauren
    The Fashionista’s Diary

  18. I’m currently finishing up Summer’s List for Review, but the next book on my list is Leave Your Mark! After reading this, I plan on reading The Dud Avocado. Great suggestions 🙂

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

  19. The Dud Avocado sounded inert testimony enough based on title alone, but croissants in Paris?? I’m so there. That’ll be next up in my list now!

    Coming Up Roses

  20. Allison says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to check these out!

  21. Sara Holt says:

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  22. Julia says:

    Ahhhh yes, I’ve been meaning to read The Interestings! I’m actually not the biggest fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, although I do appreciate it’s significance and will likely end up reading Go Set a Watchman as well. Love the classifications on this too 🙂

    Julia | Pennies & Paper

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