Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Exclusive summer reading list from Mojo Mom and Rachel Pastan

I love books, I adore books, I am crazy about books, and now that Mojo Mom is finished, it's more relaxing to read for fun again, not just on deadline as part of my work. Some of the new summer reading lists have failed to light my fire--my tastes run more literary and less "beachy" than the chick-lit lists that even the New York Times has produced (though I am going to check out a couple of those titles).

So I wanted to recommend a few of my favorite reads from the past couple of years, and share an exclusive list from novelist Rachel Pastan, author of Lady of the Snakes, which is one of my favorite novels of the past two years. I called up Rachel and asked, now that I've finished your book and loved it, what would you recommend next?

By the way, my picks are not necessarily "summery" in their content--there may be snowy landscapes or steaming radiators in these books, but no matter what time of year, I am on the lookout for literary page-turners with strong character development.

Mojo Mom's summer reading picks:

Lady of the Snakes
by Rachel Pastan (read Mojo Mom's Amazon review)

Intuition by Allegra Goodman (Mojo Mom's Amazon review)

The Myth of You and Me
by Leah Stewart (Mojo Mom's Amazon review)

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
by Janelle Brown (Mojo Mom's Amazon review)

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (Mojo Mom's Amazon review--definitely my favorite review of all I've ever written. This book will make your head spin, in a good way!)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
and The Girl Who Played with Fire (new release on July 28) by Steig Larsson (Mojo Mom's Amazon reviews, Dragon Tattoo, Girl Who Played With Fire)

On my to-read list: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Perfection by Julie Metz, and Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad.

And thanks to Rachel Pastan for her exclusive summer reading recommendations for Mojo Mom blog readers:

by Jean Hanff Korelitz
A completely compulsive and very smart novel about a Princeton admissions officer. There’s lots about college admissions, but mostly it’s this particular woman’s life story—her secret past, her uncertain future. It’s a great combination: a grown-up, thoughtful novel with an obsessive quality.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s
by Truman Capote
I had never read this classic till this year. Lively, original, breezily written, this portrait of a young woman determined to use her beauty and charm to get what she wants in lower Manhattan in the 1950s is a compulsively readable delight. Better than the movie.

The Brambles by Eliza Minot.
One of the best depictions of being the mother of young children I’ve read. The manic, moment-to-moment, dazed life of the protagonist is amazingly well-rendered with energetic, syncopated prose. The story is about how three grown children deal with the final illness of their father, but the narrative is the least of what’s delightful here.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Hardly a classic beach book, but if you’re anything like me you won’t put it down. It’s hard to explain why a novel about a small town in Maine and the difficult, large, retired math teacher who lives there is so amazing. Marriage and motherhood are portrayed in all its complexity. Beautiful narrative prose is contrasted with colloquial Maine dialogue. You love Olive, even though (or because) she’s so prickly—you never want to be done with her. For once the Pulitzer committee agreed with me.

Rachel Pastan’s latest novel, Lady of the Snakes, just came out in paperback from Mariner. A literary mystery story about a young Russian literature professor with a small child and her struggle between her passion for her work and her love for her family, Lady of the Snakes was selected by Maureen Corrigan (of NPR’s Fresh Air) as her top summer reading pick.

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Blogger Florinda said...

I love your list, probably because at least half of the books are on my own list as well :-). I'll be reading the Janelle Brown book for an online discussion next month.

I'm glad to see your recommendation of Intuition - I read that last year and was very impressed with it.

Thanks for the excellent recommendations!

1:34 PM  

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