In between flying into Rome, checking into our fabulous B&B, wondering the cobblestoned Trastevere streets and eating two plates of pasta in wonderful Italian restaurants yesterday (more on all of this later), I overlooked the fact that September 6th was “National Read a Book Day.” My apologies to you, dear reader(s)!
One of my most favorite past times is reading. Especially on the beach (the photo up top is one of my favorites from my honeymoon). That being said, it’s a bit confusing to me why this holiday is scheduled for the day after Labor Day, but reading is fun any time of year, I promise!
So, without further ado, in honor of National Read a Book Day, here are 5 books I enjoyed this summer:
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror , and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
I have a slight obsession with Nazi Germany during World War II. So, this book was pretty much a slam dunk for me. Erik Larson has mastered making historical nonfiction relevant and compelling, and this book is no exception. He brings to life Germany pre-World War II in a way that’s so vivid it’s almost romanticized. The uncertainty, fear and even excitement of the time is perfectly captured. It made me wish I could transport myself back to the era just to be a witness. Since I don’t own a time machine, I’ve settled for planning a trip to Berlin in December.
The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectactular Fall of a Serial Imposter by Mark Seal
Clark Rockefeller’s story is so completely ridiculous that it’s hard to believe that it’s true. As a Lifetime Original Movie junkie, I first became interested in his story when Eric McCormack starred as Clark in the movie Who is Clark Rockefeller? This book tracks the development of his life as a con artist, filling in the details of his many personalities with anecdotes from those he duped. It’s clearly the biography of a disturbed man, but I laughed out loud on several occasions.
This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
This is the first book I’ve read by Jonathan Tropper, but it will not be the last. It’s the story of a dysfunctional family’s grieving process for their late father, filled equally with hilarity, absurdity and sadness. It delves into the tragedies that fill a life with humor and sympathy. One of its central observations is how little we ever really know about what’s really going on in anyone’s life. Some deep stuff right there! But seriously, you’ll laugh out loud at this one as well.
Before I go to Sleep by S. J. Waston
I really can’t stop talking about this book. I have a feeling it’s getting annoying for people. I can’t help it, though. It’s been so long since I’ve become addicted to reading a book in such an all-consuming way. It really defines the cliched “page-turner” phrase. The book’s main character is suffering from severe memory loss. Each night when she goes to bed, the act of sleeping takes all of her memories away; when she wakes up she’s clueless about where and who she is. It’s a plot device that’s been explored in a few other mediums – the movies 50 First Dates and Memento to name a few – but never so well, in my opinion. The book is a bit like a maze. You’re constantly trying to figure out who to trust, what’s true, what’s an illusion. It’s the kind of book you’ll stay up until 3am to finish. When you arrive at work the next morning bleary-eyed and barely functioning, your coworkers will ask you how late you stayed out partying last night and you’ll have to be honest and tell them you were up home alone, reading a book.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
I read this book on my honeymoon (for proof, see photo above), and I really wish I were reading it again right now. Although, let’s be honest, the setting didn’t hurt. But, Ann Patchett is such a talented writer she can make even the book’s slightly unbelievable plot worth reading anyway, and maybe even make you not notice how strange it is until a couple of days after you’ve finished the book. Pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Maria Singh travels into the jungle to investiagate the disappearance of her colleague and uncovers a total different reality. Two warnings: (1) if you’re taking or about to take anti-malaria pills while reading this book, like I was, it will make you extremely paranoid, and (2) there’s a certain detail left undiscussed about the book’s resolution that is slightly bothersome. However, if Patchett decides to continue another book where she left off with this one, I am 100% on board.