Image by ~ Phil Moore via Flickr
Summer is on its way out, but I’m not ready to let go of the “summer read,” the books that we choose to fill the hot summer months with diversion, enjoyment, or instruction. There’s something about reading at the beach or in a shady spot with a Popsicle in hand that makes the experience special.
I don’t know about you, but to me, summer reading gravitates toward escapist entertainment. Actually, I read novels non-stop anyway, no matter the season. But since I write historical romance, I spend a bit of time reading non-fiction, researching 1880s costume plates, the Oregon Trail or British smuggling. I love biographies, travel books and anything related to my favorite historical periods. My family knows they can score big with me at Christmas by giving me just about any book with the words "Regency," "Old West" or "Jane Austen" in the title.
But on my summer commutes to the bookstore and the neighborhood library (which, thanks to budget cuts, isn’t even close to my neighborhood), I rarely leave the fiction section. When the weather is hot and the days are lazy, when laundry is drying on the line and the bees buzz thick around my garden, my mind is prone to wander. I want to go faraway places, solve mysteries, and enter different worlds. This summer was no exception, and here are some of my favorite summer reads this year.
The Preacher’s Wife by Cheryl St. John drew me in right away. Whether it’s because I love historical romance or because I’m a preacher’s wife myself, I had to get a copy! The inspirational story (a Steeple Hill, Love Inspired Historical) swept me away, as a childless widow agrees to marry a widowed pastor and raise his three girls, even though he does not return her affection. The protagonists struggle with their Christianity in a realistic way as they try to serve Jesus even when they don’t know all of life’s answers. The themes of God’s love, mercy, and consistency blessed me, and were woven deftly into the story.
I was glad to pick up A Connecticut Christmas, even in July. All four of the novellas in this inspirational romance anthology were nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year, and I wanted to know why. My favorite is Janet Lee Barton’s The Cookie Jar, where a woman struggles to keep her business afloat and falls in love with two motherless kids (and their dad). Who knows? Maybe reading about snow and mistletoe brought the heat down a few degrees.
The First Patient, by Michael Palmer, is a thriller about the doctor to the President, whose frightening illness is hidden by those closest to him. Quick paced and full of action, it was fun to read and challenged my writing. I wish I could come up with plots like this!
Speaking of plots, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, the bestselling children’s series, explores in thirteen volumes (plus one Unofficial Autobiography) the travails of the Baudelaire orphans. I love reading children’s novels, for three reasons: it helps me keep up with what my own kids are reading; kids' books can include examples of great writing; and sometimes, they're just plain fun. Lemony Snicket's books fits all three bills.
Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freeman is another Young Adult gem I found in the library…about twenty-some years ago. I never forgot Katherine and Mike, a sergeant in the Canadian Mounted Police. Re-reading their story, I still loved it, though I was shocked by how much things have changed since it was first published in 1947, especially the treatment of Native Americans. The love story, however, is powerful but squeaky clean, and the writing has moments of pure beauty.
What did you read this summer? I’m always eager to learn about a good book, and in exchange, I’d like to share a brand new copy of The Preacher’s Wife with one of you! To be entered into the drawing to receive it, please leave a comment after any post before September 15 with your name and email address (please use brackets to protect yourself from spammers, i.e. name <@> account <.> com). I’ll pick the winner at random! And don't forget to stop by http://www.inkwellinspirations.blogspot.com/ for our big launch today. There will be prizes every day through October!