Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday Salon: Summer Book Club

It's that time of year again where I choose the books that my summer book club will be diving into for June, July, and August. Normally I ask for advice in choosing but since I have been swamped with work and kid stuff, I have barely had time to breathe, much less ask all of you great readers what you would recommend we dig into this summer. So I went solo and chose but I'd still love to hear what you would have chosen if you were the Supreme High Chooser instead of me. Maybe if I combine all of the recommendations, I can create a sort of virtual book club/reading list for myself for the year and for any of you who want to join in. In any case, here's the summer roster according to me:

Man by Kim Thuy
Following on the Giller Prize-nominated and Governor General's Literary Award-winning success of Ru, Kim Thúy's latest novel is a triumph of poetic beauty and a moving meditation on how love and food are inextricably entwined.

Mãn has three mothers: the one who gives birth to her in wartime, the nun who plucks her from a vegetable garden, and her beloved Maman, who becomes a spy to survive. Seeking security for her grown daughter, Maman finds Mãn a husband--a lonely Vietnamese restaurateur who lives in Montreal.

Thrown into a new world, Mãn discovers her natural talent as a chef. Gracefully she practices her art, with food as her medium. She creates dishes that are much more than sustenance for the body: they evoke memory and emotion, time and place, and even bring her customers to tears.

Mãn is a mystery--her name means "perfect fulfillment," yet she and her husband seem to drift along, respectfully and dutifully. But when she encounters a married chef in Paris, everything changes in the instant of a fleeting touch, and Mãn discovers the all-encompassing obsession and ever-present dangers of a love affair.

Full of indelible images of beauty, delicacy and quiet power, Mãn is a novel that begs to be savoured for its language, its sensuousness and its love of life.

A Good American by Alex George
This is the story of the Meisenheimer family, told by James, a third-generation American living in Beatrice, Missouri. It’s where his German grandparents—Frederick and Jette—found themselves after journeying across the turbulent Atlantic, fording the flood-swollen Mississippi, and being brought to a sudden halt by the broken water of the pregnant Jette.

A Good American tells of Jette’s dogged determination to feed a town sauerkraut and soul food; the loves and losses of her children, Joseph and Rosa; and the precocious voices of James and his brothers, sometimes raised in discord…sometimes in perfect harmony.

But above all, A Good American is about the music in Frederick’s heart, a song that began as an aria, was jazzed by ragtime, and became an anthem of love for his adopted country that the family still hears to this day.

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
The #1 international bestselling debut novel about the wisdom of the very young, the mischief of the very old, and the magic that happens along the way
Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie's father, leaves her in the big ladies' underwear department of a local store and never returns. United at this fateful moment with two octogenarians seekers, she embarks with them upon a road trip to find Millie's mother. Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.

This week my reading travels have taken me far afield. I was there as an elderly woman in Pittsburgh revealed the secret of her past, including being a WASP, to a young aspiring writer. I sat with an author, her mother, and four other older women at a New Haven bridge table as stories were told and a relationship examined. I was right in my own town of Charlotte as a marriage and family suffered under the weight of depression, a long held secret, and betrayal. I traveled through the Japanese Inland Sea of almost a quarter century ago. I was in Boston at the nascence of what would evolve into virtual reality as a solitary girl grew up with the weight of her father's genius, his Alzheimer's, and her own social confusion. Now I have bookmarks currently in too many books to mention, some of weeks (months) duration and some of more recent vintage. Where did your travels in books take you this past week?


  1. I haven't heard of any of the books you chose, so I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on them.

  2. I haven't heard of any of them either!

  3. A really interesting post, Kristen! I have Lost and Found on my TBR list; and I wasn't aware of the new Kim Thuy so I shall have to add that.

    My reading this week took me, of all places, to Kansas City, Missouri. I mention this because I read another, completely unrelated, book just a couple of weeks ago, also set in KC, MO. It's an unusual setting for my reading.


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