Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer Reading List Update

The calendar says summer is officially over September 21st.  For me it's over when school starts and since today is officially the first day of school for my kid, summer is over for me.  I read a lot of books this summer and now I offer you my favorites from June through August.

10. Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross

From her basement in Brooklyn, Sima Goldner runs a small shop specializing in women's undergarments.  A "bra whisperer", Sima can look at a woman and immediately tell what size bra she should be wearing.  Her life with her husband has been stable, but less than satisfying for over thirty years.  And then Timna enters her life.

9. The King of Colored Town by Darryl Wimberley

Nothing exciting ever happened in Cilla Handsom's small town of Laureate, Florida.  Divided as most towns are by the railroad tracks, Cilla lives in the section of Laureate called Colored Town.  Born to a retarded mother, Cilla's days are filled with attending school and attending to her infirmed mother.  Her monotonous routine is uprooted the day Joe Billy King arrives in town.

8.  Song Yet Sung by James McBride

With Song Yet Sung James McBride has managed the perfect blend of historical fiction with just a little touch of the paranormal.  In reading it, I'm reminded of Octavia E. Butler's Kindred.  Song Yet Sung follows the lives of slaves and slave catchers along Maryland's eastern shore.  In an area full of abolitionists, free men and oysterman, Amber and Wiley live a peaceful existence with their widowed mistress and her son. The peace on their farm is interrupted the day "the Dreamer" comes into their lives.

7. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

What's a man to do when he retires?  When his puttering around the house starts to drive his wife crazy, Mr. Ali comes up with the perfect plan.  He starts The Marriage Bureau for Rich People. 

6. Substitute Me by Lori L. Tharps

Thirty year old Zora Anderson has floated from place to place and job to job on a whim.  Moving on when things become too much to handle, she finds herself in New York with a place to stay, but in desperate need of a job.  The college-educated daughter of upwardly mobile parents, Zora realizes that she's not living up to the goal her parents have set for her.  Even still, the former au pair in France decides to give being a New York nanny a try.

5. Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

"What is it like to be surrounded every day by a language and culture you only half understand?  How would it change your life?"

Girl in Translation is the story of Kimberly Chang and her mother, recent immigrants to the United States from Hong Kong.  With airfare and visas bought and paid for by her aunt and uncle, Kimberly and her mother must live and work in less than perfect conditions until their debts have been paid.  Though she speaks little English, Kimberly is determined to build a better life for herself.

4. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Let me start by saying I loved this book.  I wasn't sure what to expect even though I had read author interviews and reviews by others.  I was worried that though Lola Shoneyin is a respected poet, the transition to author might be a difficult one.  I was pleasantly surprised that she made a seamless transition.

3. A Taste of Honey: Stories by Jabari Asim

When Jabari Asim rolled through St. Louis earlier this year, I didn't attend the book signing because I hadn't yet read the book.  Now I really wish I had gone just to hear him read.  Billed as a set of sixteen short stories, A Taste of Honey is so much more than that.  It would be impossible to tell just one story and not wonder where it leads to or how the characters in that particular story affect characters in other stories.

2. The Sport of the Gods by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I've read poems by Dunbar, so I was familiar with his work in that genre, but this was the first story that I've read by him.  The writing is so fresh and contemporary that I had to keep reminding myself that it was published in 1902.  I was absolutely blown away by it.

1. 32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter

When was the last time you stayed up late to read a book? 32 Candles is so good that I started reading it at a bowling alley, ignored Twitter and the TV when I got home and stayed up until I was done with it. Yes, it's that good.

What did you read this summer that just blew you away?

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