Looking for a good read? Something that really draws you in and makes time disappear for a while?
Here in Atlanta it’s been over 100 degrees for that last few days. It’s perfect weather to sit inside a nice, cool air-conditioned space or under a beach umbrella and dive into a great book.
I’m a voracious reader and have a taste for just about anything — maybe with a bent toward novels with great character development, personal growth or spiritual books that aren’t the same old pablum, and fascinating historical biographies.
We are in the peak of summer right now with no foreseeable end to the swelter. Maybe you are headed off to the beach or to grandma’s or just enjoying a lazy weekend at home. Wherever you are, you’re definitely going to need a good book, a shady spot, and maybe a margarita to kick back and endure the heat. I’ll provide the books. You go get the blender and ice!
Ok, are you comfy? Here are some really bold books that aren’t your run-of-the-mill bodice ripper or who-dun-nit. If you want to be thrilled, engaged, informed, enlightened or intrigued, I’ve hand-selected some really great reads just for you.
If you are interested in a book, just click on the title, and you can read more about it or order the book on Amazon.
If you have read the series by Steig Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is the first), you will love The Redbreast. The author, Jo Nesbo, won a bunch of awards for his crime novels, and is a Norwegian musician, songwriter and economist. The Redbreast is an intricate and ingenious thriller about detective Harry Hole, an angry, alcoholic detective who gets drawn into a murder conspiracy that takes the reader on a wild ride of twists and turns. The characters are fascinating, especially Harry, and the plot is crazy and fast-paced. Nesbo has written several more thrillers featuring Harry. If you haven’t read Steig Larsson’s series, they are fabulous too. You can find them here: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
I have posted about this book before, but the movie is coming out in August. If you are one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t read this book, hop on it now. It is a beautiful, soul-searching personal journal by the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who travels through three countries to sort through the emotional aftermath of a divorce and to learn about herself. In Rome she learns the pleasures of great food and friendship. In an ashram near Mumbai, she delves into her spiritual side. And in Bali she discovers love again. Her self-deprecating humor and insights, along with engaging descriptions of her encounters and locations, make this an impossible book to put down. Read it before you see the movie! If you have read it, check out her most recent book: Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
I just visited historic Williamsburg, Virginia, and was so immersed in Colonial history that when I saw this book in a gift shop, it literally jumped off the shelf and into my hands. I love history, but for some reason George Washington has never intrigued me. He always looks so dour on the dollar bill. This book made him come alive for me. And of course Martha too, who was a delightful personality in her own right. For two people who referred to each other by their last names, George and Martha had a really strong and loving marriage. George had no teeth and Martha was a wee bit plump, but they were devoted to each other. This isn’t a deep, intellectual tome, but a readable and fascinating story of two exceptional people who happen to be the first, first couple of the Country.
This Will Change Everything: Ideas That Will Shape the Future
This book is brilliant. The author asks 130 of the most influential scientists and some artists this question: “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” The answers will astound you, and sometimes disturb you. But it will definitely give you a glimpse into the not-too-distant future. This is a book that you can easily pick up and put down, since it is comprised of 2-3 page answers from the various contributors. Great stuff.
Ah, Pat Conroy. He is truly the living legend of Southern writers. And this is his first novel in fourteen years. I have missed him. His prose is like melted butter, and his characters become family members by the time you finish a book. This is a lovely read, and perfect for summer. It takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and begins in the late sixties when the protagonist, Leo King, is a teenager. He is haunted by his brother’s suicide, and tries to survive a daunting adolescence with the help of a group of friends who have their own ghosts and dysfunctions. They grow up together in scenes reminiscent of The Big Chill. The book is a tribute to all of Pat Conroy’s favorite places and familiar themes. I would also highly recommend my favorite of of his books, The Prince of Tides: A Novel
Don’t you love the title? It sounds like something housewives would order from the back of a magazine that arrives in a brown paper wrapper. Sorry, it’s about spiritual enlightenment. Jack Kornfield is a psychologist trained as a Buddhist monk and well-known as a meditation teacher. The books jacket cover gives a perfect summary. “Drawing on the experiences and insights of leaders and practitioners within the Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Sufi traditions, this book offers a uniquely intimate and honest understanding of how the modern spiritual journey unfolds — and how we can prepare our hearts for awakening.” Kornfield helps us learn how to be enlightened while still living in the real world.
If you think you had a strange and difficult childhood, read Jeanette Wall’s personal memoir about growing up with two brilliant and completely crazy parents. She opens the book as a now successful adult living in New York. She’s dressed up for the evening, riding in a taxi, and spots her mother rooting through a dumpster. Her parents are gifted, eccentric, and totally ill-suited to raise children. The children learn to take care of themselves and to eventually discover that what passed for normal really bordered on abusive. Not once does Wall sink into self-pity. She recounts her experiences with humor and a detached stance that makes her trials bearable for the reader and maybe for her.
Also, be sure to take a look at my recommended books on the sidebar. I have read and loved them all!
And one more thing. I love holding a shiny, new book in my hands and turning the pages, smelling the “newness” of it, and carrying it around with me like a little pet. But I recently had a long discussion of the pros and cons of the Kindle with my friend Jeanne’s husband, Jeff. He whipped out his Kindle and showed me how easy it is to take on a trip, stick in your briefcase or computer bag, and how you can download books in an instant. OK, it looked pretty cool, I admit.
If you are interested in checking out the Kindle, here’s the link:
Kindle Wireless Reading Device (6″ Display, U.S. Wireless)
So now you have a lot of books to choose from. Pick one and grab your ice-cold glass of whatever. It’s time to read.
For more reading absolutely FREE, please download my ebook, How to Live a Meaningful Life.