Like many of you, summertime is when I catch up on some reading, more so now that I am retired. "Summer reading" (as opposed to fall, winter, spring reading?) usually connotes light stuff. On that end of the scale, I recently read two non-knitterly books by two knitting authors.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee usually writes books of knitting humor. Yes, knitting can be funny, but mostly just to other knitters. Her latest book is just humor, no knitting knowledge required. The Amazing Thing about the Way It Goes contains essays, a couple of which are polished versions of stories told on her blog, but most of which are new-to-me. Common themes are marriage and parenting and self esteem, and they are likely to appeal more to women than men. A few of the essays are more serious than funny, and most are more amusing than laugh-out-loud funny (although I did laugh out loud more than once). I have heard Stephanie speak before, and quite frankly, her extemporaneous stories are much, much funnier, roll-on-the-floor-with-tears-running-down-your-cheeks kind of funny. Maybe she should try stand-up. Anyway, for a light read, I recommend this book.
Ann Shayne is one half of Mason-Dixon Knitting and co-author of two knitting books. When she self-published a novel, I admit my expectations were low. Not because she does not write well, but rather because of my snobbish, self-published-first-novel prejudices. Well, I was pleasantly surprised by Bowling Avenue, and in a big way. The book is about Nashville and is told in an Anne Tyler-lite sort of way, with lots of strong character development and great dialog and imagery. I definitely recommend this book for any time of the year.
At the other end of the spectrum, I have been slogging through Fooled by Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It's not that it is not interesting, but I find Taleb's writing style difficult to read. Also, I don't know much about the stock market beyond buy-low-sell-high, so some of it is simply lost on me. Some would take umbrage with his ideas about how our successes (and failures) are primarily the result of random luck. I half agree with him, as otherwise I don't have much explanation for why my life has been relatively easy. There have been tough parts and sad parts, sure, but nothing catastrophic or tragic (knock on wood). Every "good" decision I made might not have been so good given different circumstances, and none of my "bad" choices were so bad that I could not recover from them. I'm not sure I will finish this one, but the library has another by Taleb, The Black Swan, on CD, so I may try that instead.
Another not-so-light read is All the Rage, by A.L Kennedy, who has won lots of awards. This collection of short stories are not stories in the common sense of the word. They require careful reading (at least, by me) or else risk making no sense at all; I've already had to read one twice and I still don't quite get the ending. Maybe if I were smarter or had majored in English (like I *almost* did), I would not find this book quite so difficult. Or maybe I just need to go out to Good Reads and see what others have to say. Then maybe I'll get it.
(In fact, becoming at least a lurker on Good Reads sounds like a very good idea, now that I have the time for that sort of thing.)
The last book I'll describe here is All the Birds, Singing, by Evie Wyld. The format of this novel is intriguing, as the story begins in the middle, then in alternate chapters, works its way to both the beginning and end. Consequently, I was expecting not one, but *two* payoffs. Unfortunately, I was disappointed about both the beginning and the end of the story. Otherwise, I might have reread the book chronologically, just for fun.
Oh, one more, definitely for light reading: Have a Nice Guilt Trip, by mother-daughter Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella (but mostly Lisa). I previously read Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, so was primed to be entertained, and I was. You will be, too.
What are you reading this summer?