2014 Summer Reading List

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The school year officially ended last Friday and since then, my days have been filled with watching the kids spend time being outside, playing Uno with the kids, and vegging out on the couch. According to a family friend, my family is glowing. It wasn’t until I heard the words, that I realized she’s right. There’s no notes to take, reading logs to type up, or textbooks to check. It feels good.

While the kids are making plans on how to spend their summer (building huge Lego sets, swimming, and starting their own blogs), I’m making plans too. I’ve posted my bucket list so now I get to share my summer reading list. Sometimes I think one of the best parts of reading books is making lists about the books we want to read.

  • Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver
  • The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
  • Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Trokia by Adam Pelzman
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (may read this one with my daughter)


  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (essays)
  • Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss (essays)
  • Among Others by Jo Walton
  • Starting From Scratch: What You Should Know about Food and Cooking by Sarah Elton (future cooking classes with the kids)
  • The Iliad by Homer
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones


  • Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Ariana Huffington
  • Love by Toni Morrison (reread)
  • The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

My list will probably change from week to week as I add and subtract things so you can always see the most updated list on Pinterest. It seems like a lot of books but I have plenty of time on my hands. I’ve already started reading The Iliad. Surprisingly, I’m enjoying it.

What are you reading this summer?


Saturday blogging break

IMG_20130310_103604This is one of my favorite places to sit and read. It’s also the chair that I have to share with the kids if I ever want to sit in it. The sunshine shines in just right and a breeze blows in through the window, so you can’t help but feel happy in this chair. It’s also a great place to sit if you want to spy on the neighbors for sightseeing.

The finishing line for Michelle’s High Summer Read-a-thon is tomorrow night and my reading has slowed to a crawl. I’m planning to spend today and tomorrow curled up with the two books I’m reading. Hopefully it’s the kick I need.

How are you spending your weekend?

Sunday Salon

I had a pretty good week reading-wise. For the Orange Prize, I read The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard and Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles. Both were excellent reads especially The Song of Achilles which gave me a reading hangover. I finished it in one day and couldn’t read anything else after that; I was so stunned by it. I’m almost completely recovered so now I’m looking for a new book to read. I also read:

  • Her Mother’s Face by Roddy Doyle (reviewed)
  • Bad Island by Doug TenNapel (a great graphic novel)
  • No Bears by Meg McKinlay
  • At Night by Jonathon Bean
  • The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington
  • Bink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
  • Mr. Gumpys’s Outing by John Burnington
  • A Family of Readers: The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature by Roger Sutton (non-fiction)

I recommend every book that I read this week. The children’s books are great bedtime reading material.

After reading The Song of Achilles, I want to read more books set in Ancient Greece and/or those inspired by that period, so I’ve decided to add The Iliad and Anne Carson’s Nox to this week’s reading list. Nox is an elegy that Carson wrote to her brother. It’s an accordion book that comes in a box. I also plan on reading:

  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff
  • Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison (for Orange July)
  • Girls in the Grass by Melanie Rae Thon (re-read, plus I’ve decided to re-read all of Thon’s books this year)
  • Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

I know what you’re thinking, Vasilly, that’s a lot of books. True, but since I’ve dropped my math class (yes!), I can read as much (or as little) as I want. Plus, I’ve signed up for Michelle’s (True Book Addict) High Summer Read-a-thon which starts tomorrow. Since I’m starting today, consider this my sign-up post.

I’m off to curl up with The Iliad. What are you reading today?

Sunday Salon: July reading plans

Morning! It’s about 9 a.m. here and already it’s warm. Why?! The weather is crazy all over the United States right now so if you’re on the East Coast, I hope you’re keeping cool. If you’re anywhere that’s flooding, I hope you’re safe and dry.

June was one of those rare reading months where the quality was WAY better than the quantity. I read fourteen books, mostly children’s books with the kids. Every adult book that I read last month was fantastic. I read:

  • The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna Rating: 5/5
  • Fables Vol. 16: Super Team by Bill Willingham Rating: 5/5
  • Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin Rating: 5/5
  • The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter Rating: 5/5

The kids and I also read some amazing children’s books like:

  • Boy + Bot  by Amy Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino Rating:  5/5
  • How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan Rating:  5/5
  • Extra Yarn by Marc Barnett Rating:  5/5
  • And Then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano Rating:  5/5

Now that July is here, I’m hoping to have another great reading month. Jill (The Magic Lasso) is bringing back Orange July: a month-long celebration where participants read at least one Orange Prize nominee or winner in July. I’m signed up and there are so many great-looking books that I want to read like The Pink Hotel by Anna Stothard and Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan to Kathleen Winter’s Annabel and A Mercy by Toni Morrison.

I also put myself on a summer-long new book ban. My bookcases are filled with unread books so for the rest of the summer, I won’t buy or check out any books for myself. I can read the library books that I have checked out but I’m not renewing them. Think of it as my summer version of C.B.’s TBR Double Dare. I did have a small buying binge yesterday but it was mostly short stories from Tor.com.

So those are my plans for July. What are your plans for the month?

Sunday Salon: Summer Reading, Read-a-thons, and Read-alongs

Technically, summer doesn’t start until June 16th here but when you’re a student, it starts the very second you’ve finished with your last final. Since my last final is over tomorrow afternoon, I’ve started picking out potential reads for my short, (less than a month long), summer. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ve been waiting for this day probably since Easter vacation. The chance to read as much as I want without worrying about grades or homework is my idea of heaven.

Here’s a few things that I’m looking forward to this summer:

Photo by EvilErin Flickr Creative Commons

Christina over at The Ardent Reader is another blogger/college student who’s celebrating the beginning of summer, so we’re decided to host a small informal read-athon exactly a week from today. It’s called the School’s Out! Summer Read-a-thon. Feel free to join us. You can read as little or as much as you want.

In case you didn’t know, Sheila over at Book Journey is hosting a read-along of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden throughout the month of May. On the 31st, she’s hosting a virtual garden party with discussions on the book and giveaways.  The Secret Garden is one of my annual spring reads but I wasn’t able to get to it this year. I plan on re-reading the book, watching the movie version, and re-reading Ellen Potter’s The Humming Room which was inspired by The Secret Garden.

The Chunky Book Club is hosting its next book club discussion starting June 7th for The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. I can’t wait to read this. The book was a finalist for the Orange Prize, won the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best Book, and is an Essence Magazine Book Club pick. You don’t have to be a participant of the Chunkster Reading Challenge and you can read this in any format.

Now I’m off to cram study. What are you reading today?

July: Looking at the month ahead

Picture by plastAnka

We’re passed the halfway mark for the year! I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. The kids’ last day of school was just a few weeks ago and I’m already looking ahead at back-to-school sales! *sigh* I’m also at a crossroads right now. I have the opportunity to take my first break in three years from school next semester but I have no idea how I want to spend that time. So while I’m trying to figure it out before the start of the new semester next month, I decide to reflect on my reading so far this year and also what I want to read this month.

My stats:

So far this year I’ve read 165 books which translates to 18, 755 pages.

Half of the books I read were children’s books which graphic novels coming in at second.

47 of the books I read this year  received a 5 out of 5 rating from me.

My longest read was American Gods by Neil Gaiman at 672 pages.

Five of my favorite reads of the year include Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin, Fables vol. 15: Rose Red by Bill Willingham, Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen (non-fiction), Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack, and Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.  Looking at those five makes me realize that I haven’t reviewed any of them yet. That’s another thing to add to my to-do list.

There’s so much going on this month that I’m thinking about participating in a few events including:

Orange July. Every January and July Jill celebrates the Orange Prize by hosting Orange January/July. I have two books that were nominated for the prize so I’m in.

NetGalley Month. Emily over at Red House Books is declaring July Netgalley Month. She’s trying to get participants to read as many unread books in their NetGalley queue as possible.

NaBloPoMo. National Blog Posting Month goes on every month and every month I swear I’m going to join but haven’t. I’m jumping in! I’m really going to try my best to post something every day this month, which is why this post is going up so late in the day.

Last but not least: what I’m hoping to read this month. As usual, the stack is a little unbelievable but if I can read most of the books then that’s one shelf of tbr books read.

  •  House Made of Dawn – M. Scott Momaday
  • Bird in a Box – Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • Trail of Crumbs – Kim Sunee
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives – Lola Shoneyin
  • Culture is Our Weapon – Patrick Neate and Damian Platt
  • A Man and a Woman and a Man – Savyon Liebrecht
  • A Reason to Believe -Deval Patrick
  • The Greatest Music Stories Never Told – Rick Beyer
  • French Leave – Anna Gavalda
  • The Realm of Hungry Spirits – Lorraine Lopez
  • Sugar in My Bowl – Erica Jong
  • Quarantine by Rahul Mehta
  • Redeemers by Enrique Krauze

  • The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee
  • Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones (re-read)
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  • Blessing the Boats by Lucille Clifton
  • Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
  • Transparency by Frances Hwang
  • The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah
  • Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon
  • The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
  • The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
  • The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow
  • The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
  • The Heart of a Samurai by Margo Preus

Insane right? My stacks are a great combination of ARCs, books I’ve received as gifts, library reads, and impulse buys that I really should read. I think I can do it but I can’t slack off. I need a challenge right now so my summer geography class, reading this stack, and blogging every day will be  it.

What are your plans for July?

Diversify Your Reading Challenge

Authors Malinda Lo and Cindy Pon have started a new reading challenge on their blog, Diversity in YA Fiction.  It’s called the Diversify Your Reading Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to get participants reading MG and YA books by and/or about  people of color or LGBT and write an essay – 500 words or more –  about their diverse reading experience. There’s also prizes.

For more information, visit the Diversity in YA Fiction blog or click the link above.

 I’m taking the challenge. What about you? Can you add a few diverse books into your summer reading pile? 

Summer reading and looking ahead

Summer is almost here by Leland

Yesterday was the last day of the semester and I can’t tell you how relieved I am. I love the excitement of a new semester with teachers that I usually haven’t had before on classes that I’ve been waiting to take. But the end of a semester brings its own share of excitement: the stacks of books that I can read without interruptions.  For the next four weeks I can read as much as I want while the kids are still in school. After that I can still read a lot but not as much since the kids will be home with me most of the summer.  So I feel a little (just a little) pressure to make every second of this time count.

Last night I started reading Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write about Real Sex edited by Erica Jong (June 2011). It’s a collection of essays , short stories, and even a comic from a variety of writers and artists about sex and love and everything that comes along with it. Note: This is not romance. Romance is talked about in the book but don’t think of romance novels or anything of the sort when you think about Sugar in My Bowl. Some of the authors featured in the collection include Rebecca Walker, Eve Ensler, and Julie Klam.  So far the writing is smart and funny. I love Jong’s introduction and how she admitted that most of the authors featured wouldn’t agree to be a part of the collection until their partners said yes. It made me think: would a male writer asked his partner if it was okay to be in a collection about sex?

Review copies

I’m also reading The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey. The novel is about an English couple who have spent decades in Trinidad and their marriage in the midst of the country’s political unrest. It appeared on the Orange Prize for Fiction’s longlist along with Rosie Allison’s The Very Thought of You (July 2011). The Very Thought of You has been on my reading list since the beginning of the year when  Jill from The Magic Lasso shared an article about the book. Set during WWII the book is about a young girl, Anna, who’s  sent to the Yorkshire countryside to live with a childless couple. Anna ends up being a witness to an affair and the consequences of it. The book has received mixed reviews but I can’t wait to read it. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt is a book that I’ve read only positive things about. I don’t read westerns but if this book is half as good as the hype surrounding it and the cover, I know that I’m going to enjoy it.

From my tbr shelves and lists

I love reading stories by and about women so I’m looking forward to The Secret Lives of Bab Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin, Tillie Olsen’s classic short story collection Tell Me a Riddle, and The Girl who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow.


Have you noticed that some of the best read-alongs are hosted during the summer?Allie over at A Literary Odyssey is hosting a read-along of The Iliad while the lovely Belleza is asking others to join her as she reads Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad that starts May 23rd, which is just a few days away. Atwood is an author that I’m pretty intimdated to read so I think The Penelopiad would be a great start. Of course there’s also my read-along  of Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns which will be going on throughout June. There’s also the Woman Warrior (Maxine Hong Kingston) read-along over at Feminist Classics. It seems like this is a book that everyone read in high school – except me. I plan on changing that.

And last but not least, what would a summer be like without re-reading a few favorite books? I first read Beloved by Toni Morrisonduring last year’s Christmas break and it was easily the best book of 2010. I can’t wait to read it all over again along with American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I plan on giving it a dual reading once again: in print and audio. Every time I even think about this book, I wonder if I should change my major back to anthropology.

So that’s a few books that I’m looking forward to reading over my summer break. What books are you looking forward to tackling this summer?

Sunday Salon: Summer Reading

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Months before the end of my spring semester of school, I was counting down for the day that I could start my summer reading. Summer is when I do the most of my reading for the year. Having days on end that I can dedicate, without guilt or fear of bad grades, to reading is my idea of heaven. This year I had one month between semesters to read as much as I want. The only problem is that summer semester starts Monday and my month of carefree reading is almost up. Too bad I was unable to read while I was sick. Oh well.

The start of summer semester isn’t going to stop me from trying to read as much as I want, though it will slow me down. I decided to still come up with a list of books I want to read this summer especially since the start of autumn isn’t until the end of September.

I dedicated this year to reading deliberately and it’s been a success. So I decided to keep going and read more books outside my comfort zone:

  • non-fiction reads
  • classics
  • character-driven instead of plot-driven novels
  • books by and about people of color

I’ve come up with a list that I’m pretty excited about.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon. You’ve probably seen this book featured a few times here. For some reason Chabon is one of those writers I’m really intimidated by. I’m determined to read Maps and Legends this summer.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore. This book has been on my TBR list for a few months now. What made me decide that I really need to read it now was listening to the author discussing this book. It’s the non-fiction account of two men by the name of Wes Moore, growing up in the same city with similar backgrounds. One of the men becomes a Rhodes Scholar while the other ends up serving a life sentence for murder. The book is an exploration of the lives of both men.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins.

House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday.

Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to An American Massacre by Heather Cox Richardson. I found out about this book after browsing Powell’s Bookstore website and reading an essay Richardson wrote.

Satchel by Larry Tye. I bought this book when it was first published (last Father’s Day?) and I still haven’t read it. It’s time to change that.

Beloved by Toni Morrison.

Quicksand and Passing by Nella Larsen. I have no idea which novel I’m going to read by Larsen yet though I am learning towards Passing.

Flight by Sherman Alexie.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robsinson. A character-driven book that was nominated for the Pulitzer.

Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf. I love books about reading.

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. This is another book that’s been “sitting” on my virtual TBR pile for years. I decided to read this after reading Kim’s (Sophisticated Dorkiness) great review.

Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski. After reading so many positive reviews and comments about this book, I know I need to see what’s all the fuss is about.

Not pictured:

A Summer of Hummingbirds: Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade by Christopher Benfey

Show and Tell: Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustrations by Dilys Evans

From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children’s Books by Kathleen T. Horning

Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America’s Educationally Underprepared by Mike Rose

So that’s my list. It”s not counting the books I’m currently reading or review copies. It’s pretty ambitious but I might be able to handle it! Have you read anything on my list? Any recommendations? Do you have a summer reading list? If you do, what’s on your list? If you don’t, what books are you thinking of reading this summer?

10 fiction books for the summer

When summer hits the only thing about my reading that changes is the amount of books I actually read. Like most readers I read more during the summer. This summer I signed up for Molly’s Summer Vacation Reading Challenge, joined Andi for her personal challenge, Reading In Order, and also joined Shauna for her June challenge, 30 books in 30 days. Callapidder Days challenge, Spring Reading Thing, ends June 20th and I want to complete the books I signed up for. Between reading and keeping the kids busy, my summer is packed.

Here are ten books of fiction I’m looking forward to reading this summer:


Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. Mun’s debut novel takes place in 1980’s New York. The main character, Joon-Mee, is twelve years old when she runs away from home and lives the life of a runaway teen. The book gives the reader six years in Joon-Mee’s life.

Delicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff. Andi at Estella’s Revenge recommended that I read Lucky Chow Fun, the first story in this collection of short stories. I read it and loved it.


The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood. Last year when I read Ann Hood’s memoir, Comfort, about the death of her young daughter, I feel in love with author’s voice. The Knitting Circle is a book about grief and trying to live after tragedy.

In Hovering Flight by Joyce Hinnefield. I found out about this book while on Twitter from fellow blogger, Wendy at Caribousmom.

The Angel of Forgetfulness by Steve Stern. This book has been sitting on my shelf for much too long. A fallen angel, his half-human son, a young woman named Keni, and a long-forgotten manuscript make up this story about love and memory.


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Chris would probably seriously harm me if I don’t read one of his all-time favorite books soon. (Just kidding, Chris!)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. You can never go wrong with a Pulitzer winner.

The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen. Meghan at Medieval Bookworm told me about this debut novel. A talented 12 year old hitchhikes across America. It’s more complicated than that, but still. . .


The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors of all time and I figured summer is the best time to Steinbeck.

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.