I love this time of year—late summer, when nights begin to come a tiny bit sooner, things are noticeably drier, the quality of light fades somehow and turns slightly orange as opposed to the burning-bright yellow of summer. And fall seems just around the corner. The air smells good, and the air—at least where I live—is slightly chillier.
I’m partly noticing the change because the new school year starts early for my whippersnapper, who begins first grade today. Today! First grade! No, it’s not year-round school! It’s just crazily early! I’m still being lulled by the beautiful screech of scrub jays and the woosh in the trees!
So even though we’re still in summer and the only school district in the country that violates the sacred tradition of not starting until after Labor Day, and even though all the agents and editors are still sipping their frothy pink daiquiris from their curly straws on a beach chaise in the Hamptons, I’m starting to reflect on my summer. It’s been a good one. I’ve worked hard and been much busier than I ever expected. In a good way. I also—and this is the best bit—got to read a ton of wonderful new books:
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Loved it. Loved Susanna Kearsley, whose books all deal heavily with some paranormal aspect: ghosts, time travel, reincarnation—while all still being firmly women’s fiction. Score!
Mariana by Susanna Kearsley. See above. One of the grandest luxuries of summer is reading through an author’s catalogue.
Getting Over It by Anna Maxted. Listen. Listen. Anna Maxted? Freaking adore. Like, she’s in the number one slot shared by Liza Palmer. (Sorry Liza--you're still there, though. But I am sure you have read Anna and you will understand.) Liza and Anna, Anna and Liza. Love. Sadly, I had not heard of Anna Maxted before this summer. I know! Living under a rock! Under a quarry of rocks! And I read this book because some reader wrote the following review: “So snarky that I couldn’t stand it and didn’t make it past the first six pages. Awful.” Yes! Score! I picked it right up and freaking loved it.
The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones. How to describe this in a word? Weird. But deliciously dark, too. The hook? A good one: starts off as a sort of old timey British class story, ala Downton Abbey, and then turns totally dark with a great twist. I was never quite sure if it worked or not, but it was great fun reading it and that’s all that counts.
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger. God, what an exquisite story. The type we all wish we could write. Gorgeous, delicate, powerhouse characters, seriously great writing, unique and lovely story. Just a fantastic read. Read it. READ IT! What was the hook for me? I think it was the promise of a strong, secure-minded heroine in Bangladeshi immigrant Amina, who is an Internet-order bride to her American husband. It’s just so good.
The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. I read this for research purposes. That is all.
Behaving Like Adults by Anna Maxted. Yes! Even MORE delicious than the first! Yes, Anna! Yes!
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews. I love Mary Kay and always appreciate her slightly campy, very authentic southern (Georgian) settings and style. This one was full of awesome drama, and a good August read.
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I’m actually still reading this. And really enjoying it. So there.
What have YOU read this summer? Tell me so I can add the books to my fall list!