Saturday, May 31, 2014


As summer approaches, I’ve begun making a list of books I’d like to read this summer.  My summer reading list  this year is separate from the never-ending list of novels, memoirs, and biographies that I usually accumulate.  So I read the book synopsis, critics’ and readers’ reviews,  as I make up my mind about the book.  Often, I will surf  through the author’s website. 

These are the books on my summer reading list, so far:

1—The Invention  of  Wings  by Sue Monk Kidd--This title kept crossing my path: online book clubs, e-forums.  It seems everyone is either reading,  or has read,  The Invention  of  Wings; so I decided to read it as well.  I’ve read the first couple of chapters.  To me, the first page is stunning and beautifully-written.

2—Beautiful Day  by Elin Hildebrand.  I’ve read  and liked the first chapter.  Beautiful Day  is the story of a wedding, a bride, a groom and the notebook the bride’s late mother left her.  This story begins with the bride’s  mother’s notes for the wedding preparations, and details of their lives unfurl.   So I’m pretty sure I’ll get to read it this summer.

3-Chinese Cinderella  by Adeline Yen Mah--This memoir is the author's vivid recounting of her childhood in Shanghai, China.  She had a cruel stepmother, but also had no family support or encouragement.  Dr.  Mah blames Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, for the cruel treatment girls received in China.  In Dr. Mah's case, her mother died while giving birth to her, so little Adeline's fate was sealed from that moment.

4—The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt--This book is over seven-hundred pages (rivaling War  and  Peace--which is one thousand pages, or more).  A few months ago, I read the synopsis and about 3 chapters of this book.  I was smitten.  I decided then that I’d put  The Goldfinch on my list.  And that was before it won a Pulitzer Prize.  My hope is that this novel about art, mystery, and a youngster’s life of hard knocks will sustain me.  I just have to remember that I managed to read War  and  Peace, so I can do this!

5—Mastering  the  Art of French Eating by Ann Mah.  I read Mah’s first novel, Kitchen Chinese, and liked it. This, her second book, is a food memoir on her forays into French food and  culture.  I love food memoirs, so this should be a fun  read. Check out my review of Kitchen Chinese at

6—Hope Runs  by Claire Diaz-Ortiz--This memoir chronicles Diaz-Ortiz’ trip to Kenya.  There she met a young boy nicknamed  “Sammy” in an orphanage.  Samuel Ikua Gachagua (“Sammy”) is the co-author, in chapters that alternate.  This memoir--described in the subtitle as a tale of “Redemption”--ought to be a really interesting and inspirational read.

7—An American Girl In Italy  by Aubrey Dionne.  I read the author’s article on the inspiration for this novel.  She herself travelled through Italy.  Since I love reading travel memoirs and novels set in exotic locations, I look forward to reading  An American Girl In Italy.

8—100 Places Every Woman  Should Go  by Stephanie Elizondo Griest.  I loved Griest’s first memoir, Around  the Bloc, in which she chronicles her peripatetic journeys through Russia, China, and Mexico.  100 Places Every Woman  Should Go  purports to be a travel guide for any woman who wants to globetrot.  It should be an informative and fun read!  To read my review of  Around  the Bloc, go to

9—Ines  of  the  Soul  by Isabel Allende.  I’m a fan of Isabel Allende’s writings. Infused with both reality and magical realism, her work has inspired me.  Ines  of  the  Soul  is actually a historical ‘novel’ based on the life of Ines Suarez, a 19th Century woman who helped found and colonize Santiago, Chile.  Sounds interesting!

10—Rat Girl: A Memoir by Kristin Hersh.  To me, the title alone is intriguing.  The book description promises a book about a life filled with isolation and longing.  Kristin Hersh is a musician, songwriter, and a member of the rock band Throwing Muses.  Rat Girl  inspired a ‘musical’ of sorts by the same name.

Bear in mind, this is a list of my intentions.  I’ve no idea what I’ll have actually read by summer’s end.

--Yolanda A.  Reid