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Beachy Keen Reads! August 8, 2012

Posted by stacey in Beach Reads, Genre Book Discussion.
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Today was the our celebration of the Ultimate In Summer Reading, otherwise known as “The Beach Read.” While I -and my colleagues- strongly discourage taking actual library owned items to the beach, due to the sandy/watery elements involved, we *would* like you to consider one -or more- of the following books:

Steve: Calico Joe, by John Grisham, is both a baseball story and a father and son tale. Although it wasn’t great, it also wasn’t bad, and makes a nice beach read if you’re just looking to kill some time. The story bounces between the summer of 1973 and 2003. At the onset, we learn that Paul Tracey’s estranged father, former Mets pitcher Warren, is dying of cancer. Flashing back to 1973, an extraordinarily promising Chicago Cubs rookie named Calico Joe is blazing through the record books. When Joe belts a home run against aging Warren, a terrible event occurs that changes the course of their lives. Thirty years later Paul encourages his father to meet with Joe and make things right before he passes. Along the way we learn about Warren’s awful treatment of Paul and his mother and sister. A so-so read with promise that felt unfulfilled.

Emma: Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook is the story of Deirdre Griffin, personal assistant to her brother Tag who is a rising star in the New Age movement. Deidre has dedicated her life to her brother’s career with no personal life of her own. She quits during an argument with him, runs home, gets drunk and enters a contest to become a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars”. She uses Tag’s fame and followers on Facebook and Twitter to her advantage during the voting process and is selected to participate on the show. “Dancing with the Stars” trivia and the family dynamics described make this a fun quick read.

Carol: It’s the summer of 1948, in Robert Goolrick’s novel Heading Out to Wonderful, when Charlie Beale arrives in the small town of Brownsburg, Virginia with all his worldly possessions–a pickup truck, his butchering knives, and a suitcase full of money. Though he is a stranger there, Charlie is charmed by Brownsburg, and eventually decides to settle there, finding employment and then friendship with Will Haislett, the town’s butcher who welcomes him into his family circle. Things change when Charlie meets 20-year-old Sylvan Glass, the bought-and-paid for wife of Boaty Glass, the richest, fattest and meanest man in town. Sylvan is wrong-side-of-the tracks girl who has spent her husband’s money transforming herself into Hollywood beautiful, but her arrangement with Boaty specifies that her family’s fate will hinge on her remaining true to him. Charlie’s is blinded by his desire, and even as he and Sylvan both know what it will cost them, they begin a torrid affair. Readers will be swept away by this perfect beach read of doomed love that grabs you from its first page.

Julie: Tired of the sweltering heat? Give Glaciers by Alexis M. Smith a try! It’s one day in the life of Isabel, a librarian who fixes damaged books, the soldier she longs for, and the lost things she collects. It’s an engaging read that really is refreshing.

Chris: Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth is as enjoyable as a day at the beach. Ali’s memoir reflects on days growing up in a family of political journalists and daughter of President Reagan’s White House social secretary, then on to college, unlikely proposals, working as comedic actress, and finally her marriage to George Stephanopoulos and starting a family. It’s a life filled with funny stories and Ali generously shares them.

Ann: The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri is the perfect summer read. Nora Cunningham and her two young daughters escape for the summer from the turmoil of life in Boston to Burke’s Island, Maine. Nora spent the first five years of her life on Burke’s, but much of her early life is shrouded in mystery. She’s welcomed back to the island by her aunt Maire, her mother’s sister, and the little family settles into the cottage once occupied by Nora’s mother. Nora and the girls soon become accustomed to the rhythms of the island and even meet a mysterious stranger who washed ashore one night during rough seas. There are stories of magic on the island; could the stranger (Owen) be a selkie summoned by Nora’s wishes? An enchanting beach read.

Dori: If you’re longing to travel this summer, Turn Right at Macchu Picchu by Mark Adams will take you on an adventurous trip through history, archeology, and astronomy. Adams, a magazine editor and an armchair traveler himself, decides to follow in the steps of Hiram Bingham, the American who ‘discovered’ the ancient city of the Inca Empire in the early 20th century. He, along with a grizzled guide and a host of Peruvian locals, treks up and down, over and through the mountains and jungles of Peru in search of Bingham, his motives and his discoveries. Along the way he makes his own discoveries: about himself, the Peruvian people and the mysteries of a ‘lost’ city. A great read!

Megan: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella is perfect beach fare. Poppy Wyatt is in a panic. She’s lost her engagement ring and her cell phone has been stolen during a hotel fire drill. Anxious to keep her fiancé in the dark about this she is relieved to find a cell phone abandoned in a trash bin. The phone belongs to the assistant of businessman Sam Roxton, who reluctantly allows Poppy to borrow the phone until her ring is found. The plan is for Poppy to forward all important messages to Sam and mind her own business. Of course, things rarely go according to plan and Poppy’s plans are no exception. Her wedding plans are a mess, her relationship seems to be on the rocks and strange messages on the abandoned phone soon put Poppy in the middle of a corporate scandal. Fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary will enjoy this charming romantic comedy.

Stacey: Most Talkative by Andy Cohen is a memoir by the beloved BravoTV producer slash talk show host. Andy shares stories of his spirited childhood, surrounded by a wonderful family and good friends, and continues on into the present day. He bravely shares the good, the bad, the silly, the serious, and a few insider Housewives factoids, without it ever feeling like he’s revealed too much information. The strongest appeal of this book will be to dedicated BravoTV fans, but anyone wanting to dip their toe in a bit of pop culture nostalgia should also give this book a look!

And if you want to squeeze in just a few more books? Why not try something the folks at NPR are suggesting? Or maybe you want to get fancy with a Booker Prize nominee?

And if you finish allll those books? Well, you might wonder what genre is next -so you can find a book and read-a-long! In that case, you’ll want to seek out a Women’s Fiction story! These books explore the life of a female main character, focusing on their relationship with family, friends, and significant others. These books can be romantic, suspenseful, mysterious, or dark in tone but they must all feature a woman overcoming the odds and emerging triumphant! Enjoy!

— Stacey

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