Summer Books to Read
Perfect Summertime Novels and Book Series
This spring I read three of the books on my "21 Books I Want to Read in 2021" list picked in January and listed in Book Recommendations and Reading Goals for 2021. The recent novels I read from my 2021 book list include:
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. A humorous though at times sad account of a fictional nobleman in Soviet Russia.
- The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. A page-turning account of a nurse's experiences with pregnant influenza patients in Dublin, Ireland over several days in 1918.
- The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling. A fun, though at times disturbing, fable for adults and older kids.
Last March I wrote about Books I've Read So Far in 2021.
More books I recommend for summer reading:
- Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson. You may have notices from my various art series that I'm more than a little obsessed with Italy. This book takes place in Italy during World War II and starts off in one of my favorite art cities in the world: Venice.
- The Wake: The Deadly Legacy of a Newfoundland Tsunami by Linden MacIntyre. Excellent writing and engaging narrative about Newfoundland starting from the 1929 tsunami. Until reading this book, I had no idea about this devastating natural catastrophe and how it completely changed life on the island. The author masterfully explains how the tsunami triggered an unfortunate chain of political and industrial decisions and events to the detriment of Newfoundlanders. Sadly, the government incompetency described has too many parallels for contemporary times in Canada and elsewhere. This non-fiction human tragedy is a page-turner and I highly recommend it.
- Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (in That Order) by Bridget Quinn (Author), Lisa Congdon Great stories about women artists but I found the writing a bit annoying and trying too hard to be trendy and cute. I usually enjoy Lisa Congdon’s fun illustrations but her portraits in this book are much less interesting and multifaceted than her typical artwork. This is especially disappointing for portraits of such fascinating creative women.
- Beneath a Scarlett Sky by Mark Sullivan. A thrilling tale of an Italian man's resistance experiences during World War II in Italy.
- The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. A wonderful novel written for adults by the famous Canadian author of the classic Anne of Green Gables Series (one of my all time favorite book series!).
- Bite Me Balance Cookbook by Julie Knat and Lisa Albert. I've been working my way through the recipes in this family-friendly, mostly healthy cooking book. Some favourite recipes so far include carrot cake, snickerdoodle cheesecake bars, classic cinnamon coffee cake, spring couscous salad, Asian chopped salad.
- The Library of Legends by Janie Chang. Fascinating historical fiction with mythology set during the late 1930's in China while at war with Japan.
Additional Books I've Read this Summer and Spring:
- The Push by Ashley Audrain. I found this an anxious and difficult read. Many people in Toronto were talking about this psychological thriller so I read it but did not enjoy it as much as others.
- Amphibian by Carla Gunn. A novel told from the point of view of a young environmentalist boy struggling with bullying.
- My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottawa Moshfegh. A Chelsea, New York City art gallery assistant's strange year in late 2000 to 2001.
- Mother Reader: Essential Readings on Motherhood edited by Moyra Davey. A compilation of mostly non-fiction and a few short stories and excerpts on mothers, mostly with young children.
- Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish. Advice and ideas on combatting sibling fighting at all stages of childhood, adolescence and even adulthood.
- The 4% Fix by Karma Brown. A motivational book with advice on how to tackle a project or personal mission by waking up early every day and carving out time.
Book Series Recommendations to Read in Summer
Certain book series keep me thinking long after I've read them. These novel series continue over multiple books and keep me thinking about and feeling vested in the characters and narratives. A new novel, thriller or murder mystery in these book series are usually released each summer or every other summer. Below are some of my favourite summer series books, which I’ve fully read and eagerly await the new book releases...
- Inspector Brunetti Series by Donna Leon. I first heard of this murder mystery series of the Venetian police inspector while studying art in Venice, Italy. By request of the author, this series is not published in Italian but my fellow NYU art classmates had brought English copies, which I read while living and studying in La Serenissima, I recently read the latest installment Transient Desires (2021), which is #30 in the Inspector Brunetti Series and very enjoyable.
- Gabriel Allon Series by Daniel Silva. Spy and classically trained fine artist is the main character in this thriller series. The latest instalment in the the exciting, thrilling series is The Cellist (2021), which is #21 in the Gabriel Allon series. Although I enjoyed it, the latest book was not my favorite of the whole series.
- Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear. I recently finished the latest installment, The Consequences of Fear (2021), which is #16 in the murder mystery series about a talented female "psychologist and investigator." The series started in post–World War I London and has followed her path. The later book takes place during World War II in London.
- Bess Crawford Series by Charles Todd. An Irish Hostage is #12 and the most recent book in the series. I devoured the murder mystery book set in Ireland post World War I.
- Inspector Lynley Series by Elizabeth George. Sadly a new book in this murder mystery series hasn’t been released since 2018 but I eagerly await the next instalment.
- Cormoran Strike Series by Robert Galbraith, a.k.a. J.K. Rowling. Another wonderful series that doesn't come out yearly like some of the other murder mystery series listed above.
Book Series I’m Still Working on Reading:
- Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan. I'm still working my way through this children’s book series.
- Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I quickly read the first few books in this time-travelling historical fiction series but got stuck in book 5.
- Inspector Gamache Series Louise Penny. I loved the first 2 books in this Canadian murder mystery series but haven't yet finished The Cruellest Month, book 3. I plan to give it another try this summer.
Many of the murder mystery novels I must enjoy featured artists as the main character or as the victim.
Murder Mysteries Novels on Artists and Art:
- In the Maisie Dobbs Series, book 4 named Messenger of Truth features the murder investigation of a controversial artist whose murder took place at a famous Mayfair, London art gallery.
- The first book in the Inspector Gamache Series "Still Life" revolved around the murder of an amateur artist. Other main characters in the Louise Penny novels include a professional artist and a semi-successful artist in the town of Three Pines, Quebec.
- Gabriel Allon is a spy and also a trained art restorer. Many of the Daniel Silva novels include art gallery shows, master artwork sales, and art historical elements.
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