Summer Reads

As Nina Sankovitch wrote in the Huffington Post, "The only real injury that can be done to a book lover is time wasted on a book that does not offer anything new or lovely or moving"  So with that in mind, if you have not read The Elegance of the Hedgehog by  Muriel Barbery or Donna Tartt's new novel The Goldfinch, which just won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction (followed by lots of interesting controversy), then long, languid summer afternoons are the perfect time to do it. I envy you your pleasure.

Other summer suggestions: 

The Giant's House by Elizabeth McCracken - a lonely and pragmatic New England librarian loves a young man suffering from "giantism," he cannot stop growing.  Although an unlikely heroine “…in the course of the novel, this secret romantic's hard shell cracks open in the heat of a most peculiar passion.”  (New York Times) This novel is written with some startling good lines. A lovely elegy on love. 
Chris Abani’s  GraceLand is a 2004 novel which tells the story of a teenager named Elvis Oke, who impersonates Elvis for tourists near his ghetto of Lagos, Nigeria, is trying to make it out. It is beautiful.   Check out Albani’s piece "On Humanity" for TED Talks: It is extraordinarily moving.

Novel Bookstore by Lawrence Cosse is a "novel is at once a wish-fulfillment fantasy for bibliophiles, a love story, a satire of the contemporary literary scene, and a mystery, complete with a patient young police prefect of a literary bent.” (Washington Post)  

City of Bohane by Kevin Berry: The New York Times states, “The extraordinary first novel by the Irish writer Kevin Barry, is full of marvels. They are all literary marvels, of course: marvels of language, invention, surprise. Savage brutality is here, but so is laughter. And humanity. And the abiding ache of tragedy. “  The language may be difficult at first, but that will wear off: It is a cross between the Irish literary tradition of Yeats or Joyce crossed with  Eminem, and the early story telling of Springsteen. How could you resist that?

I will host a book group dinner this month that is a reminder of my time in Spain: herbed olives, Spanish tortilla, good bread and a green salad. I usually serve a locally made mango sorbet with fresh fruit for dessert. Be sure and add red pepper flakes to the herbed olive recipe for a little heat.

The perfect summer dinner is simple, made ahead of time (so you don't miss the talk), and is served cold or at least room temperature. Spanish tortillas are a great way to finish off any vegetables that are still in your crisper. My favorite are sliced zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes.  I usually top generously with hot Spanish paprika that I still have from Barcelona. 

Slip into a pretty summer frock, pour the chilled vino verde or tempranillo and settle into an early evening of book talk with the smart kids.

Anne Willi’s simple clothes remind me how elegant summer clothes can be.  

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