Summer Time Reading Recommendations – Part 1

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” Theophrastus

It seems to me that I’ve been blogging about Greece in one way or another for months now. Perhaps it’s time to write about something else. Typically I give my book recommendations at the end of the year, however for the sake of shaking things up, including my own one-track mind, I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve enjoyed over the past several months. When I’m not ranting or organizing or writing, I spend my time reading.

Here are some of my picks by category and in no particular order. Beside each title and author I’ve written some of the notes I wrote in my journal after I finished reading the book. I know I’m a bit obsessive (stop laughing), but yes, I do keep track of all the books I read. Sometimes I reread books too, but that’s another story.

I might as well warn you it will take a couple of blogs to document my recommendations. I’m nothing if not opinionated. I know you haven’t noticed. I try to be subtle. Okay, now really, stop laughing.

I typically read more fiction than non-fiction and poetry, so I’ll start with fiction and separate short fiction from the novel form.

Short Fiction:

Brilliant by Denise Roig I loved the recurring Oasis snippets that gave such perspective to Abu Dhabi, a character in it’s own right. I loved how all the stories gave the reader different perspectives of this place: what an outsider feels as well as what it means to be at different levels of the wealth spectrum.

Ellen in Pieces by Caroline Adderson A novel told in short stories through different points of view. I loved the language of the main character, Ellen and the way love can rebound. I also loved the line, “Vancouver was beautiful, but she had a cold shoulder.” Lovely!

The Little Washer of Sorrows by Katherine Fawcett Funny and compassionate, this collection of stories leaves you with an understanding of our humanness – foibles, beauty, warts and all. Each story uses raw humour tinged with just enough insightfulness. This collection will make you think about the characters Fawcett has developed and the lives they lead long after you’ve finished reading.


All the Light We Cannot See by Antony Doerr The story of two children, a German boy and a French girl prior to and during WWII. Poetic and beautifully written but what I liked best is how the author shows the reader how difficult it must have been for Germans to see what the Nazis were doing at the time and feel so helpless to do anything about it. I liked the contrast between humanity versus brutality.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby The story of Sophie Straw and her rise as a comedian on a BBC program in the 60s. Thought it was so real, I goggled her. She wasn’t a real person, but the book with its retro photos made her seem so. Very well done.

Little Bee by Chris Cleave Told from the perspective of two protagonists, a refugee and a white middle class woman, their stories come together under brutal circumstances. Speaks to one of the problems our world faces with the mass migration of people due to ongoing conflicts. A compelling story.

Local Customs by Audrey Thomas This novel about an author who moves to Africa with her husband and is dead eight weeks later uses very sparse, evocative language and is a must read. Difficult to put down. Wonderful.

The Dinner by Herman Koch This story occurs over a dinner as two couples discuss their sons and the horrific crime they may have committed. Disturbing but excellent. Spoke to the issue of what parents are prepared to do to protect their children.

The Kept by James Scott Beautiful images, incredible use of verbs, great descriptions, wonderful story about a boy who survives the mass killing of his family, and the mother who, away at the time of the murders, returns to find him. A great story that drives you to read on. Riveting.

Medicine Walk By Richard Wagamese This novel is told from the perspective of a 16-year old boy and his dying alcoholic father. Simple, straight forward and packs a punch. I LOVED this book.

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