Cape Eye On Books with Anne LeClaire: Summer Reading

Anne LeClaire

Anne LeClaire

Summer is a perfect match for so many pastimes – swimming, boating, tennis, barbeques, you know the list -but to my mind the most heaven-made marriage is that of summer and reading.

When I was a child every week my mother would drive us to the town library and I would check out as many withdrawals as we were allowed. (If memory serves we were limited to six.)  Late in the afternoon – stilled by the heat of the Connecticut River Valley – I would grab a glass of lemonade, a book from my pile and head for the back yard hammock or the glider on the front porch where I would stay until my mother called me in for dinner.

When I was a teenager, the high school I attended required each student to read and report on eight books during the summer vacation, our selections to be made from a list of suggested readings that were eclectic, ranging from plays to novels to biographies and other non-fiction. Even now I can remember the titles of some of the books I read over those summers:  THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII; A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN; LIFE WITH FATHER by Clarence Day; UP FROM SLAVERY by Booker T. Washington; FRANKENSTEIN; and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.

Reading remains one of my favorite ways to spend a summer afternoon and, perhaps formed by those long-ago reading lists, my choices remain varied. Depending on my mood and ambition, I will reach for the latest mystery by a favorite writer, a novel recommended by a friend, or a biography that has caught my attention. Over lunch with Nancy Thayer, this month’s Featured Author, we mused about how Beach Books differ from Summer Reading, the first tending toward lighter fare while the latter can mean revisiting old favorites or dedicating weeks to one of the classics.  One friend spent a summer reading CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and another MOBY DICK.

In the coming weeks you’ll learn of Nancy’s recommendations as well as those of our Featured Bookstore, Mitchell’s Book Corner in Nantucket. In the meantime, here are five to consider when you head for the beach or the hammock.  The descriptions in quotes were culled from the internet.

THE ISLAND HOUSE, by Nancy Thayer. The New York Times bestselling author returns with a novel perfect for the beach. “Weaving the trials and uncertainty of real life into a tapestry of passion, hope, and courage, it is a beautifully told story about the ties that bind us and how the blessings of love and family heal us in ways we never dream possible.”

MARTHA’S VINEYARD by Susan Branch.  A memoir by the chef, artist and writer who traveled to the island in 1982, planning to spend three months and never left.

BEFORE THE FALL, by Noah Hawley. The Emmy, PEN, Peabody, Critics’ Choice, and Golden Globe Award-winning creator of the TV show Fargo, has written what is hailed as the thriller of the year. “On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.”

MIRACLE ON MOHEGAN ISLAND:  A Novel, by Elizabeth Kelly. The best-selling, award-winning author of The Last Summer of the Camperdowns has penned another summertime family saga.  “Maine’s rugged, picturesque Monhegan Island is home to weathered lobster fishermen and curious tourists…a genial if sleepy group. But when Spark Monahan―rakish prodigal son―returns unannounced to the dilapidated family home, his arrival launches a summer the likes of which this quiet town has never seen.”

VILLA AMERICA, by Liza Klaussmann. “Sara and Gerald Murphy’s good looks, talent for living and perfectly successful marriage breed both devotion and jealousy amongst their friends. But when Owen Chambers, an American aviator, arrives in their lives, the deep emotional fissures in Sara and Gerald’s marriage reveal themselves and their lives change forever.  Villa America is a fictional imagining of the real lives of Americans Sara and Gerald Murphy who, in the heady years of 1920s France, presided over a group of expatriate writers, painters, singers and dancers–including Pablo Picasso and Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos and F. Scott Fitzgerald. This dazzling cast of characters gathered together in the Murphy home in Cap d’Antibes, as both Sara and Gerald cast their elusive magic over all of them.”

What are you reading this summer? Please join the conversation.

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