by Catherine Hearn
Summer has arrived, and we are having visions of lying in a hammock with a great book. So, we asked some of our bookaholic iGnite members (thank you Leslie McConnico, Jane Flieller and Kathy Huffaker!) what they recommend curling up with this summer. So here you have it — straight from our Monarchs themselves — our Great Summer Reads:
And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini (author of The Kite Runner) | New novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. This one is hard to put down!
Angle of Repose and Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner | “These are modern classics in my opinion. Though very different, both are wonderful, insightful novels that have lots of personal insights.” -Kathy H.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin (Historic Fiction) | In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Beyond the Sky and Earth: a Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa | “The author shows great courage in taking a job for 2 years teaching English in a remote Himalayan village and her eyes were opened (as well as mine) to a very different culture, mindset and spiritualty. It is much more than just a travel book.” -Kathy H.
Charlotte’s Web (Audio Book) by E. B. White | “Although this is a children’s classic, when E. B. White reads it everyone will love it.” -Kathy H.
Citizens of London by Lynne Olson | This is a behind-the-scenes story of how the United States forged its wartime alliance with Britain, told from the perspective of three key American players in London. “If you like history, this book gives great detail of WWII.” -Jane F.
The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother by James McBride | “Very powerful!” -Kathy H. Amazon Summary: The biracial son of a Jewish mother tells the story of how she raised her 12 children” in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. “Mommy,” a fiercely protective woman with “dark eyes full of pep and fire,” herded her brood to Manhattan’s free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect.
Julia Child: My Life in France (Audio Book) by Julia Child | “The story in her own words (read by Flo Salant Greenberg). Julia tells about her years in France where she learned to cook and found her true calling.” -Kathy H.
My Antonia by Willa Cather | “Published in 1918 it is the last in her “prairie trilogy”. I consider it a classic. It is beautifully written and is a book you can relax into. It is the story of several immigrant families who move to rural Nebraska. Anything by Willa Cather is a step back in time but a look into that time that will engross you.” -Kathy H.
The One Thing by Gary Keller (self help book) | The ONE Thing is about getting extraordinary results in every situation. What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary? Gary Keller has identified that behind every successful person is their ONE Thing. “I wanted to read this book since Gary Keller is the cofounder and chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate franchising company in the U.S. He built this company from a single office in Austin, TX by using his skills as a teacher, trainer, and coach. Gary defines leadership as ‘teaching people how to think the way they need to think so they can do what they need to do when they need to do it, so they can get what they want when they want it.’ Gary’s ONE Thing is teaching.” -Jane F.
The Palace Walk by Naquib Mahfouz | “This is the first in The Cairo Trilogy. This trilogy starts in the 1920s in Cairo. These books give me a look into a culture that I knew nothing about. This trilogy could keep you engrossed all summer!” -Kathy H. Amazon summary: The novels of The Cairo Trilogy trace three generations of the family of tyrannical patriarch Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad, who rules his household with a strict hand while living a secret life of self-indulgence.
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain | “I loved this book and didn’t want it to end. It is the story of the love affair and betrayal of the famous couple Ernest Hemmingway and his first wife Hadley. Set in Paris in the 1920s during the time of Gertrude Stein and her famous Salons. So interesting!” -Kathy H.
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett | “Published in 1989 it is set in the 12th century and tells the story of the architects, builders and the peoples around the building of gothic architecture, most specifically, the cathedrals. It is a long, exciting, gripping read. It was also an Oprah Book Club choice.” -Kathy H.
Promised Lands by Elizabeth Crook | “This historical fiction novel chronicles the Texas Rebellion and the scene about the Battle for Goliad stayed with me for a long time. It is my favorite Texas historical novel so far!” -Kathy H.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles | Amazon Summary: This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike.
The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani | Amazon Summary: Beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani returns with the most epic and ambitious novel of her career—a breathtaking multigenerational love story that spans two continents, two World Wars, and the quest of two star-crossed lovers to find each other again. The Shoemaker’s Wife is replete with the all the page-turning adventure, sumptuous detail, and heart-stopping romance that has made Adriana Trigiani, “one of the reigning queens of women’s fiction” (USA Today). Fans of Trigiani’s sweeping family dramas like Big Stone Gap and Lucia, Lucia will love her latest masterpiece, a book Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, calls “totally new and completely wonderful: a rich, sweeping epic which tells the story of the women and men who built America dream by dream.”
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See | “This is a wonderful story of friendship set in 19th century China in the time of bound feet and almost total seclusion of the wives and daughters. The story is told by the 80 year old Snow Flower looking back at her life.” -Kathy H.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy | “Makes you want to travel to Charleston.” -Leslie M. Amazon Summary: Leopold Bloom King has been raised in a family shattered—and shadowed—by tragedy. Lonely and adrift, he searches for something to sustain him and finds it among a tightly knit group of high school outsiders. Surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, as well as Charleston, South Carolina’s dark legacy of racism and class divisions, these friends will endure until a final test forces them to face something none of them are prepared for. Spanning two turbulent decades, South of Broad is Pat Conroy at his finest: a masterpiece from a great American writer whose passion for life and language knows no bounds.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Audio Book) by Betty Smith | “This audio book is so engrossing, an American Classic. You will laugh and cry and wish it wouldn’t end.” -Kathy H.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Amazon Summary: On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini | In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will. In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit. Sidenote: the author’s story is really interesting too!
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson | “This is such a fun read, as are all Bill Bryson’s books about his travels! He sets out to walk the Appalachian trail with an overweight, smoking, donut eating high school friend. Very funny. His books are also great as audio books, as he reads them himself.” -Kathy H.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed | “This is a ‘wild’ story of a young woman rocked by the death of her mother and divorce who takes off totally unprepared to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. Some people have a hard time getting into this story as the beginning is a bit disturbing but if you stick with it you will be alternately entertained, horrified and enlightened. I loved this story.” -Kathy H.
Wild Swans: the Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang | “This is one of my favorite reads. It is not a short read, but worth every page.” -Kathy H. Amazon description: The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.