Halfway through summer reading.

July twitterature

July twitterature

We’re roughly halfway through summer. If that means I should be roughly halfway through my summer reading, I’m in trouble. I just tallied up my books: I’m 3 for 10 on my summer syllabus and 7.5 for 14 on my summer reading list.

I’m only 3 for 11 on the books I want to read this summer that happen to be YA, but that might become 3 for 10: I’m seriously considering dropping We Were Liars. (Thoughts?)

Of course, I could have knocked more books off my lists if I’d actually stuck to my lists. But as you know, that’s not really my style. For better or worse.

My halfway summer reading update:

The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay

This novel from my YA summer reading list is one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. It’s well written and un-put-down-able. If you loved Eleanor and Park (on sale in the kindle store right now), you’ll love this one.

Lizzy and Jane, Katherine Reay

The names come from Jane Austen, but (thankfully) this isn’t fanfiction: in this novel, Lizzy is a driven NYC chef and stoic older sister Jane does social media in Seattle. This second novel from Reay doesn’t release until October: add it to your list, but in the meantime, read Dear Mr. Knightley, or anything by Katherine Center.

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, Ken Jennings

This nerdy nonfiction pick from my summer syllabus was highly recommended, and I can see why. Imagine A. J. Jacobs at the geography bee (or the National Archives, or geocaching). Fascinating and funny.

The Expats, Chris Pavone

I knocked out this thriller from my summer reading list in a day because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this debut, but I expect his second novel, The Accident, to be even better.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (a Veronica Mars mystery), Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Watch the series, see the movie, and then read this book, which picks up right where the movie left off. (Go enter to win a copy before midnight if you haven’t already.)

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle

This selection from my summer syllabus was interesting, but not as interesting as I had hoped, and I wish I’d skipped the first section entirely. I finished it because I felt like I should, not because I wanted to.

What have you been reading lately?  

(Head here for more details on this crazy thing we call twitterature.)

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  1. Kendra says:

    I’d recommend skipping We Were Liars. It didn’t live up to the hype at all. I kept waiting for it to get good, but it just never picked up. I’m reading Eleanor and Park right now – not sure I would consider it YA friendly (call me a prude, but that many f-bombs don’t belong in a book for young readers), but as an adult, I am enjoying it!

    • Not sure what you’d consider a “young reader”, but for me YA (Young Adult after all) is usually targeted at an audience 14-19 years old, and I think they can handle the f word.

    • Anne says:

      Thanks for the input on We Were Liars. Yep, between a little research and these comments, it’s off the list.

      I loved E&P but I don’t think it’s a YA book. There’s a difference between a book for teenagers and a book about teenagers, and E&P is the latter. In my opinion, of course. 🙂

      • Ah okay, it keeps coming up as “YA” – which is the category I’d place it in myself, but didn’t realize you didn’t see it that way.

        I definitely agree with you that there is a difference between a book for teenagers and a book about teenagers, although in my opinion E&P is (can be) both – depending on the teenager.

        Can I ask you why you think it wouldn’t be appropriate for teens?

        • Anne says:

          I don’t know that I’d call it inappropriate for teens (although I cringe at the thought of my own kids reading it in a few years when they’re in the 14-19 age range—bullies and sex and creepy guys, oh my). But I would expect adults to enjoy this book about the teen years more than the teens actively living through those years.

          • Jeanne says:

            Just wait until your kids are that age. You might feel differently. That said, it depends on the teenager. Just because you read books about certain behaviors doesn’t mean you are going to engage in them. And it might lead to some good dialogue about how to handle the teen years.

          • Anne says:

            You’re so right. I have no idea how to parent a sixteen-year-old. Hopefully I’ll have a better idea when I reach that stage, but no guarantees. 🙂

  2. Alexa says:

    I thought We Were Liars was disappointing. I rushed through it to see what happened, but the characters weren’t well developed and the plot twist was far fetched. I’m not sure why there is so much hype about this book.

    • Paula Nix says:

      Yes, my thoughts exactly on Liars! I read it really quickly (so it probably wouldn’t take you long) but I did NOT find it satisfying. And I needed to read something lovely after because the ending left me feeling depressed. So, I followed it with Storied Life of AJ Fikry, which was fantastic!

    • Kate says:

      I found The Expats at the library and read it over the weekend, including waking up early and skipping my Sunday morning run to finish it 🙂 Next up is Gail Godwin’s Evensong. I read Father Melancholy’s Daughter years ago and really liked it, but for some reason Evensong has been languishing on my shelf.

  3. Jillian Kay says:

    Is Ken Jennings the Jeopardy guy? Awesome.

    I’m sorry to hear We Were Liars isn’t living up to the hype. I was looking forward to that one.

    I seem to remember writing a summer reading list. I should get on that.

  4. The Sea of Tranquility looks excellent Anne! That’s going straight on my list.

    I was wondering, where do you find out about all of the excellent Kindle deals you share? (Really appreciate knowing about them!)

    • Anne says:

      Let me know what you think!

      For the Kindle deals: I do check sites like ereaderiq.com a couple of times a week, but that’s not how I find the best stuff. (There’s just so much bad stuff to wade through there!) For the best finds, publishers will give me a heads-up, or blog readers will. For the ones in today’s post (E&P, Dear Mr Knightley) I just got lucky—I went to link to them and they were cheap. 🙂

  5. Diane says:

    I read We Were Liars based upon seeing it on your blog. I liked it but saw the big twist coming early on. Maybe if I hadn’t know there was “a big twist” it wouldn’t have been as obvious to me, but there you go. Read The Expats because I recently became one (in Tokyo) and really enjoyed it as well. Love your blog and all the recommendations! First time I’ve commented.

  6. Catherine says:

    The Sea of Tranquility sounds like a great read. Currently, I’m reading The Secret Life of Lobsters (loving the intersection of science, research politics, and small town life), The Interestings ( a book club read, the characters are too self-absorbed, and petty for my taste but I’m trudging through), and Lord of the Flies (summer reading assignment for my eldest, I have forgotten the brilliant imagery, and I dread sharing the ending with my sensitive child, we’re reading this aloud together).

    • Dawn says:

      Lord of the Flies is one of my favorite required reads in high school. So, so good. It’s great that you’re reading it with your eldest.

    • Victoria says:

      I’ve been going through “classics”/”assigned reading” that I was never assigned to see what all the hype is about!

      Should I add Lord of the Flies to my list?

      Just to give you a heads up on my tastes:
      I loved The Great Gatsby and really liked A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Catcher in the Rye was okay. A Separate Peace made it onto my “WHY?!?!?” list.

      • Anne says:

        If that’s how you felt about A Separate Peace, then Lord of the Flies doesn’t sound like one you’re going to be happy you read. Or how about, it doesn’t sound like one you’ll enjoy while you’re reading it, but you might be glad to have read it. Curious to hear other thoughts!)

  7. Jeannie says:

    The Reay books sound wonderful — I’ll be checking those out for sure.

    I know exactly what you mean about reading (or continuing) a book because I “should” rather than because I want to — I had a similar experience this month, and I bailed. I still feel kind of guilty but the book I started reading instead (which I haven’t finished yet so will post next month) is so good that it’s hard to regret the decision.

  8. Molly says:

    I’ve put The Expats on my goodreads list after reading the comments here and the description on amazon. For Jane Austen fans, I am about finished reading What Matters in Jane Austen. It’s not fanfiction. It’s fan non-fiction! The writing is easy to follow, and the chapters are each focused on an element of her writing: why character blush, why money matters, etc. I’ve read Austen’s books many times and never considered these seemingly trivial details. Now I want to read all her novels again.

  9. Victoria says:

    Tell me more about The Expats! It looks and sounds really good…but, I don’t like a lot of “smut” (language, sex scenes, etc.). Should I pick it up or skip it?

    • Anne says:

      There’s some language (including some f-bombs) but it’s not relentless, and a few racy references, but the sordid stuff all happens offscreen.

  10. Moira says:

    Dear Mr. Knightly and Maphead look really good! I really wanted to love Eleanor and Park, but it was just a little too intense for me. Maybe someday I’ll get back to it…

    • Molly says:

      Rainbow has had a newspaper column in our local paper for years. I’ve never been a huge fan of her writing. I’ve also never read her novels. Her column has never done it for me though.

  11. Anne says:

    I think that’s a pretty good tally for someone who moved!! 🙂 I am going to keep an eye out for Sea of Tranquility and Maphead. Oh, and Expats, too!

    Since we’ve been into space at my house, I searched memoirs about astronauts at the library. Came up with The Astronaut Wives Club. That was my big read to finish since the last Twitterature.

  12. Leigh Kramer says:

    Drop We Were Liars. I immediately figured out the big twist. It was still hard to put down but I feel “meh” about it weeks later. Maybe because the main characters were so unsympathetic?

  13. Shannon says:

    I’ve been working my way through your many lists! But can we just talk about the ending of Bel Canto? Between that and the ending of The Secret Keeper, you have me on an emotional roller coaster this summer!

  14. I’m 80% done with The Sea of Tranquility right now, and you are so right. It IS un-put-down-able! The first few chapters didn’t blow me away, but kept me interested and now I just can’t put it down. My Kindle died at work or I would probably be finished. Love this story! And if anyone is wondering it is on Oyster. So glad to have discovered that gem through your blog too, Anne! I’m in my free month, but I think $9.99 a month is worth it. I’m reading authors I haven’t taken the time to before. Just finished The Wife and was surprised at how much I really liked it and will now be checking out more of Meg Wolitzer.

  15. Anjanette says:

    Maphead looks like a great gift for my dad, who loves geography and cartography. I bought him the Transit Maps of the World book you posted about at Christmas and it was a big hit too, by the way– thanks for the great recommendations!

  16. Stacey says:

    Hi Anne! I just listened to your podcast at The Art of Simple which was just great! What a fun thing. And I have to say, all your talk about We Were Liars reminds me of how many different books and different readers there are out there. I read We Were Liars at the beginning of the summer and loved it! I hadn’t heard any of the hype and I wonder if, in this case, that helped. That said, E. Lockhart’s book, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, has a ‘really hard to remember’ title but is a great, great book!

  17. Amy says:

    As always seems to be the case, your book posts add to my “to be read” list. 🙂 Maphead is now on the list. And as I click through the other link-ups, the list gets longer and longer…

    I enjoyed “Dear Mr. Knightley” earlier this year – I’ll look forward to her next one. The Expats was an earlier read – while I thought it was mostly good, the structure seemed a bit distracting. I just put aside Eleanor & Park this week – just wasn’t getting into it.

  18. Sandy says:

    Sea of Tranquility was responsible for my I goring my family all day. I read a few pages before bed last night, then picked it up after breakfast. Finished it after dinner. Such a compelling story! Do you know if the author related to Edna. St. Vincent Millay? She references her work twice in the novel which makes me wonder if there’s a familial connection or she just has a fondness for her since they share a last name.

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