One of my life passions has been a constant source of joy for as long as I can remember — reading.
I love books, and even though I recently got a Kindle for Mother’s Day (something I requested), I still love the feel and smell of a real book.
When I travel, the Kindle is perfect. It’s lightweight and easy to carry around. But I still have stacks of books next to my bed and in my bookshelves. Old habits die hard, and letting go of books is like saying goodbye to old friends. So they stay.
But this summer I’ve been traveling a lot, and it’s given me good reason to use my Kindle. I must admit, it’s convenient to browse, buy, and read a book all from the same gadget. I’ve read some fantastic books, and I’d like to share a few with you — just in case you have a passion for reading too! These are some easy, fun books, as well as a few for self-improvement.
My Favorite Summer Reads
1. The Dovekeepers: A Novel, by Alice Hoffman
Oh my, this is a beautiful book. It has the feel of The Red Tent in both style and subject. The characters are compelling and heartbreaking. Here’s the Amazon description:
Nearly two thousand years ago, nine hundred Jews held out for months against armies of Romans on Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. According to the ancient historian Josephus, two women and five children survived. Based on this tragic and iconic event, Hoffman’s novel is a spellbinding tale of four extraordinarily bold, resourceful, and sensuous women, each of whom has come to Masada by a different path. All are dovekeepers, and all are also keeping secrets—about who they are, where they come from, who fathered them, and whom they love.
2. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt
This is a really engaging psychological thriller and coming-of-age story about a group of elite New England college students. But they aren’t your average college kids. This book has some of the quirkiest, most interesting characters involved in some pretty wacky stuff — including involvement in two murders. This book is definitely a page-turner and draws you in so much that you will likely stay up all night to finish it. Be prepared!
3. Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life, by Byron Katie
I would put this book in one of the top five that has impacted my personal growth and outlook on life. If you are interested in moving past personal limitations and fears, this is a must read. Bryon Katie (a woman) teaches a remarkably simple method for self-questioning in order to dispel false beliefs and negative thinking patterns. She calls these questions “The Work.”
4. Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter, by Adeline Yen Mah
I didn’t know anything about this autobiography when I picked it up, but by the end of the book, she became my personal hero. Her story and ultimate survival is compelling as she forthrightly presents her abusive and lonely upbringing as an unwanted daughter in a wealthy Chinese family. The Amazon description says it best:
Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative Eurasian stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.
5. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, by Chris Guillebeau
Chris is the well-known blogger behind the blog the Art of Non-Conformity. He has made a great living and quite a name for himself by following his passions and working online full-time. He has been a major mentor and inspiration for me in the development and growth of Live Bold and Bloom.
For the book, Chris identified 1,500 people who have built businesses earning $50,000 or more from a modest investment (in many cases, $100 or less), and in the book he focuses on the 50 most intriguing case studies. He distills what they have learned into valuable lessons on finding what you love to do and making money from it in unconventional ways. This is great stuff!
6. A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1), by George R. R. Martin
This is the first in a 4-part epic series of historical fiction that is compared to the works of Tolkein. If you liked The Pillars of the Earth or World Without End by Ken Follett, you will love this series set in an imaginary world of knights, kings, love, brutality, and chivalry. The characters are rich and interesting, with some you won’t forget long after you finish the book. I couldn’t put this book down. I read it all the way through Paris and Italy! The entire series of books is the basis of an HBO miniseries. I’ve only read this first book on my Kindle, but the four book boxed set is a real deal, especially since these books are so long.
7. Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives, by Dan Millman
This book has been around for a long time, and I’ve heard many people speak of it as one of the most important books they’ve ever read. But for some reason, I only just got around to reading it. It is a book that changes lives. It is a partially auto-biographical story about Dan, a college student and world-class competitive swimmer who meets a metaphysical older man and gas station attendant named Socrates. Through lessons and experiences, Dan learns answers to life’s deepest questions and finds a way to become a peaceful warrior. It is another must-read for seekers.
8. Gone Girl: A Novel, by Gillian Flynn
This is a great summer thriller that is darkly sharp-witted and suspenseful about a marriage on the skids, a wife gone missing, and a suspicious husband who continues to proclaim his innocence in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary. I picked it up because it was one of Amazon’s best books of the month, and it doesn’t let you down. I don’t want to tell you too much and give away the amazing plot!
9. One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim Fergus
This beautifully written book is based on a partially true premise. In the late 1870′s, then-president Ulysses Grant was approached by the chief of the Cheyenne nation, proposing a trade of 1000 white women for 1000 horses. The women were to intermarry with the Cheyenne, thus improving relations between the tribe and the white world. The proposal was refused in reality, but in the book it’s accepted as a covert “brides for Indians” program that takes May Dodd (the narrator) and a cast of other indigent, ignominious, or immoral women to marry and bear children with Native Americans while living among them. Enlightening, interesting, and poignant. I loved this book.
10. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, by Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D.
Ken Robinson has spent his career researching, studying, and writing about the power of creativity, intelligence, and passion. This easy-to-read books teaches us that we all have the capacity for creativity, imagination, and dreams fulfilled by tapping in to the place where our aptitudes connect with our personal passions. He presents a variety of interesting case studies from artists, business people, athletes, and others to show why finding your “element” is essential to your happiness and success in life. If you are interested in how you can use your personal intelligence type and your aptitudes to find and live your passion, you must read this book.
So that’s what I’ve been reading this summer! What about you? Please share some of your favorite summer reads in the comments so we can all add to our reading lists.