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English Muse: What are you reading this summer?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What are you reading this summer?

Summer books are the best kind, I think. They're meant to be read simply for the some decadent pleasure. Recently when I was reading the liner notes on my dad's Fountains of Rome album, I noticed several quotes from a Bloomsbury Group writer, Elizabeth Bowen. In 1960 she published a book called "A Time in Rome." She makes the city sound magic.

A sampling:

It was April. The idle yet intense air smelled of honey; Rome shimmered below with hardly a stir, and bluer than the sky were the Alban hills....

and this:

It is impossible, in spring, to walk too often on the Appian Way,
under the cumulus piling into the blue...

I found a used copy of "A Time in Rome" on It arrived yesterday, and I'm so excited to get started on it. I'm also reading another delicious book, "Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes," by Elizabeth Bard. It's very clever and funny.

Speaking of Paris, I wanted to tell you some exciting news: A high school student from Paris will be spending most of the summer with us! I'm busily fixing up our extra room for her now. She's coming to perfect her English, and we're looking forward to learning French. Her name is Emma. We can't wait to meet her in person! I will keep you posted on her arrival.

Meanwhile, back to my original question:

What are you reading this summer?


PS: Above photos from here.



Blogger Melanie's Randomness said...

Oh I'm reading a few books. I'm reading Molly Ringwald's book "Getting the Prett back". I tried reading "Cleaving" by Julie Powell but I couldn't get through it. I actually want to read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver. It's a fantastic book.

Oh a book about Paris. I love Paris. i want to go there some day!

June 10, 2010 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Tonia said...

A french student - how exciting! Will be reading the Lucia books for light, frothy fun; I Capture the Castle for some romantic yearning and the Secret History for some preppy/greeky indolence. Oh, and I'd better get round to some Barbara Kingsolver now she's won the orange prize too!

June 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger Kristin Hjellegjerde said...

Used to read two books a week, but unfortunately with two small boys and a deep Art passion that is taking most of my times it is a slow go at the moment. Reading a Norwegian Novel by an author called Knausgaard right now, the greatest hit among the nation of big readers. When i finish I will begin Barbara Kingsolver "The Lacuna".
Have a great summer read. Wonderful pictures by the way:)

June 10, 2010 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger lynette said...

Barbara Kindsolver rocks!
The Poisonwood Bible is one of my favourites and I just finished reading the Lacuna.
I'm looking for a few good summer reads I'll be checking back!

June 10, 2010 at 9:13 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

I'm reading The Carrie Diaries. No really, I am! Haha. It's frothy and fun, especially for summer.

June 10, 2010 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger J. Christina Huh said...

I just finished "A Happy Marriage" by Rafael Yglesias. It was such a beautifully written book and is a very honest look at love without falling into cliches or hokey-ness.

And I agree with Tonia, I adore "I Capture the Castle" by Dodie Smith. I always reach for it when I feel bad.

June 10, 2010 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger WrightStuff said...

I've always got several on the go. Women who run with the Wolves - I'm finding the wild woman within me! The necklace - a story of a group of women who clubbed together to each buy a share of a $20k diamond necklace and what happened to each of them... Got some serious chicklit to get through too...

June 10, 2010 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Issysue said...

My summer reading list is long and lovely!! I plan to read a bunch of Cathy Kelly books, some Jane Austen inspirations - you know those ones like "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" and such. I also found the best website ever: It's social networking for bookworms! You post the books you've read, want to read, write reviews, get opinions from others who have read it already, it's amazing and I'm completely addicted! To check out my bookshelf, look up Jagerlea.

June 10, 2010 at 11:03 AM  
Blogger Avid Reader said...

I just finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which was wonderful. Up next I'm going to enjoy a classic, The Woman in White, and Gaiman's Fragile Things for fun.

June 10, 2010 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Marthe said...

Wonderful pictures!

This summer I am planning to read a lot of books on writing. (see my amazon wishlist here:

Having a french student visiting sounds like so much fun! :)


June 10, 2010 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Victoria said...

I am a huge history buff so my summer reading consists of historical fiction and non-fiction. Right now I am reading The Six Wives of Henry VIII and honestly, it's better than any TV drama around! So much scandal and intrigue, and it's all true!!

June 10, 2010 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm still working on my summer reading list, so I'm taking suggestions! The books you mentioned about Rome sound amazing! I have a soft spot for Rome so I suppose I will be looking for those books now. :D

June 10, 2010 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger mytwocentsworth said...

Don't have a list--just a stack in-waiting ...... but,
just finished Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann; The Long Song, newest book of Orange Prize winner Andrea Levy; Private Life by Jane Smiley; Parisians--An Adventure History of Paris by Graham Robb, and currently reading Parrot and Olivier by Peter Carey, twice winner of the Booker Prize.

June 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

Wow! None of my friends know Elizabeth Bowen's stuff. I just finished The House in Paris, and I really enjoyed it. The writing is just lush.

Other than that, I'm engaged in a number of reading challenges this summer, and I'm reading (or re-reading) Agatha Christie novels like candy.


June 10, 2010 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Maggie May said...

one of the best summer books is The Big House by George Colt- highly recommend

June 10, 2010 at 1:51 PM  
Blogger Han said...

At the moment I'm reading 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs, after that I have two books by Rachel Hickson to work my way through, followed by The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the second book in that series and then I move on to War and Peace or Crime and Punishment (yeah I know i'm crazy lol)

June 10, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently joined a lot of online book challenges and I'm working my way through those books right now. I'm reading a bunch of Jane Austen at the moment.

June 10, 2010 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger found said...

I loved that photo collage ~ mad about books so that was just visually delicious!

It's winter so I managed to polish off two books in one week the other week and got overloaded a bit!
Time Travellers Wife & The Other Boleyn Girl


June 10, 2010 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger jessie.mae said...

i graduate college on saturday and am so excited to finally have time and motivation to read books for pleasure. i have a few stacked up ready to be read:
water for elephants (sarah gruen)
on the road (jack kerouac)
catch 22 (joseph heller)
the ragamuffin gospel (brennan manning)

June 10, 2010 at 5:18 PM  
Blogger missb@dragonflyvintage said...

I just declared that one of my summer resolutions was to start reading more again. It's been so hard to find the time, but I WILL make time this summer.

The reading list so far is:

* Here is New York by EB White
* A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (a re-read)
* On the Road by Jack Kerouack

and I'll take a look at some of the books mentioned above...I think the Paris Lunch book sounds delightful!

June 10, 2010 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Steam Spectre said...

These pictures are wonderful! I just started Neil Gaiman's Stardust last night. I'm quite in the mood for some faerie tales....

June 10, 2010 at 6:11 PM  
Blogger virginia said...

I just finished "The House at Otowi Bridge", which I read when I'm homesick for New Mexico. Just started "Are You Somebody?", and two more from the library: "Genius, The Life and Science of Richard Feynman" and "Dreams from My Father".

I'm going to re-read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", and try to find "Dakota".

I picked up "Fire in the Lake", but I'll have to be in the mood for it. I have a tall, poorly balanced stack of books next to my reading chair...

June 10, 2010 at 7:12 PM  
Blogger TheBeautyFile said...

Right now I'm reading a crazy novel by one of my favorite authors- Jennifer Belle. Next on my agenda was those Girl with the Dragon Tattoo novels, but I think you just inspired me to read a really summery novel, perhaps something like "A Light in August." I could also reread "East of Eden" because it was that good. Do you have any suggestions along those lines?

June 10, 2010 at 8:06 PM  
Blogger Ms. Chyme said...

Great post. I love reading novels.

June 10, 2010 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger Louis Duke said...

A summer of the classics
in preparation for senior English
European literature

June 10, 2010 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger vicki archer said...

I am going to strat re-reading my favourite classics. I have started piling them by my bed ready for the holidays. Right now I am reading, 'The Secret River' by Kate Grenville...a fabulous read. xv

June 11, 2010 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger The Hausfrau said...

I am so in love with those book pics! I'm planning to read the Persephone Classic "Saplings" and who-knows-what-else--I usually have at least three or four books going at any given time. Hopefully I'll get a chance to read "Lunch in Paris," too--have had that on my amazon wish list for a while.

June 11, 2010 at 3:56 AM  
Blogger genevieve said...

I am reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and I think I am in love! His comments on society and people are still relevant today, despite being a tad wicked.
After that I want to read On The Road by Jack Kerouac

Great pictures btw!


June 11, 2010 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Ta said...

I've been reading about Greg Mortensen's work in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I just finished 3 cups of Tea. I highly recommend it. It changed the way i think of the situation in the middle east. I'm about to start his second book Stones into Schools.

Then i'm reading lots of Shakespeare.


June 11, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger Natalia Paiva LLorens said...

Today I mentioned your blog in mine. You're the blog of the week. It's in portuguese, but I hope u like it =)

June 11, 2010 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger LouBoo said...

Hello - summer reading - that is just the epitome of summer to me! I have abit of a habit - I read John Updike's 'Couples' every summer no matter what. I also choose something like 'Enchanted April' or 'Tender is the Night' just for the evocative summery images that they bring in my mind! Love summer reading. It's the most reading I do all year. Nice to have you back and lovely bookish images... Louise x

June 11, 2010 at 11:56 PM  
Blogger VictoriaArt said...

I love reading about what everybody else is reading...I will look into Elizabeth Bowen!
My list:
Rachel Cusk: "The last supper" A summer in Italy
Alan Bradley: "The sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie" (just finished - lovely) and 'The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag"
Megan Mc Andrew: "Dreaming In French"
Frances Mayes "Bella Tuscany" and "Every Day In Tuscany"
C.A. Belmont "A Rather Charming Invitation" and "A Rather Lovely Inheritance"

Sommer's ease!


June 12, 2010 at 5:46 AM  
Blogger style-for-style said...

The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon
and the Steig Larson series, The Girl Who..."

June 12, 2010 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Her name was Lola said...

Just getting around to starting some of the beautiful reads you graciously sent my way not too long ago, Tina! Other than that, the new Vanity Fair! Cheers.

June 12, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger deadweight on velveteen said...

I've got three on my hit list at the moment all by Chuck Palahniuk.
-Invisible Monsters

The manipulation of the characters is amazing


June 12, 2010 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger elise said...

First, I love your blog! Second, I know it's a little cheesy, but in the midst of a distracted book-rut, I picked up my Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and have continued through the series. I can't deny my love for the Potter =) It's so entertaining, intriguing, relaxing, and simple. Great summer reading!

June 12, 2010 at 7:18 PM  
Blogger April said...

That's so exciting!! Having someone there to perfect language with is so important to learning the language.
I'm reading Island of the Blue Dolphins. I started it in grade school and never finished it, it's short and lovely so I'm reading it by the pool. Reading the Art of Conversation at work, when I have free time (which is a lot).

June 13, 2010 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Dottie said...

Tolstoy! I recently finished War and Peace; now I'm well into Anna Karenina. While that may not sound like light summer selections, Tolstoy is actually highly readable.

Have fun with your visitor!

June 13, 2010 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Lane said...

Theres a giveaway going on at my blog come check it out!

June 13, 2010 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger dulci said...

I've jumped on the Steig Larson bandwagon - Girl With The Dragon Tattoo all the way!!

June 13, 2010 at 6:43 PM  
Blogger Giulia said...

I have many new books sitting, waiting to be read. But my answer is about rereading. I had the pleasure of being asked by three interns what they ought to read this summer. Rarely do I have this power, believe me:)

I asked them if they have read (or read since they were younger, you know, when they were 17 instead of 23!)

The Great Gatsby. (I can act the whole thing out for anyone who wants cheap dinner theatre in DC)

The Quiet American - a must-read. That's all there is to say.

Shirley Hazzard's books--any & all--she doesn't write a lot (no one is currently writing better English prose than SH...they may be doing as well, or nearly but not better). For summer, I recommend her:

The Bay of Noon (takes place in Southern Italy)

Graham Greene on Capri (her memoir of him--you don't have to have read either one to gobble up this book in an afternoon.)

I adore her other longer novels but these are wonderful set pieces that are shlurpped up quickly, painlessly, & one's vocabulary & manner of writing are better. The effect obviously wears off. Ahem.

Daisy Miller - Rome, again.

Mrs. Dalloway

OK. I'll stop. One finds something new or surprising, something one forgot & thinks, yes, that's why I love that phrase, scene, etc. Because one is a year (or 2 or 3) older--so much happens in one year.

100 Years of Solitude is every 3 years or so. As is Love in the Time of Cholera.

Happy reading (there are excellent new books out & I hope those who admire the Poisonwood Bible (me, too, how ever did she DO that?)noticed that Barbara K. won the Orange Prize a few days ago. Hoorah.

June 13, 2010 at 9:12 PM  
Blogger Suse said...

The Group, by Mary McCarthy (1963) dated, maybe...but not!

June 14, 2010 at 6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance.

June 14, 2010 at 4:05 PM  
Blogger hannah said...

I just finished Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It was the perfect book to start off summer! His imagery was absolutely stunning and I could not put it down.

hugs and chocolate,

June 14, 2010 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Pfeiffer Photos said...

I'm trying to finish the leaked 12 chapters of Midnight Sun before I head back for school...summer term. Then I'll have no time to read things that I want - just required droll. Lovely blog; just discovered you this evening. Thanks for the heads-up on the Breakfast at Tiffany's book. :)

June 14, 2010 at 9:22 PM  
Blogger roseleann said...

Three delightful girly books I just discovered at Anthropologie this past Wednesday:
-Beauty in Bloom, A collection of beautiful inspirations by Natalie Bloom
-Backwards in High Heels, The Impossible Art of Being Female by Tania Kindersley and Sarah Vine
-The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, Life Lessons from the World's Most Elegant Woman by Karen Karbo

June 14, 2010 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger Donna Rose Houchen said...

I love books by Rachel Cusk, the English writer. Her insights on motherhood, marriage and life are fantastic!

June 15, 2010 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

I'm currently reading The Passage, which received a huge amount of buzz and is already being made into a film by Ridley Scott. I'm only on the second chapter and I can't put it down.

June 15, 2010 at 11:49 AM  
Blogger Sam said...

Lovely extracts - they make me want to zip over to Amazon and get myself a copy! It is Winter here in Sydney but I've just finished reading "Saturday" by Ian McEwan - it was a ripping yarn to say the least!

June 15, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm reading
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
City of Thieves, by David Benioff

June 16, 2010 at 12:14 AM  
Blogger Rose, Pearl and Grace said...

I love your photo spread, it's just gorgeous and inspiring as I currently sit on the floor, surrounded by books.

I just finished "The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenidies, highly recommended.


visit my blog...

June 21, 2010 at 7:18 AM  
Blogger rebecca said...

i'm reading nanny returns.. the book after the nanny diaries. i know, i know. everyone else in the world has read this book by now. not me!

July 12, 2010 at 8:47 PM  

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