Hi, everyone! I’m Casee Marie of The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower. Our dear Stephanie being under the weather, she invited me to contribute a guest post in her absence. Here’s hoping she feels better soon, but as she takes a break I’m happy to talk books with you all. Summer is the ultimate time for reading; a good book is essential whether you like lounging on the beach or in your own backyard. Summer for me has always meant escapism and adventure, and considering I’m perhaps the most unadventurous person you’ll ever meet that usually means I seek entertainment in the pages of books. I’ve journeyed through Italy, India and Indonesia learning how to eat, how to pray and how to love with Elizabeth Gilbert; I’ve swashed buckles with Isabella Allende’s Zorro; I’ve learned the art (and the disaster) of being a shopaholic with Sophie Kinsella. Books represent freedom and endless exploration; how very like summer! This summer the list of books I’d like to read consists entirely of novels, taking me from Machiavelli’s intrigue-ridden Florence during the High Renaissance to the a quiet English village where a retired Major finds life to be quite unexpected – and even to Chicago where a spirited bombshell takes the windy city (and the world of sports) by storm. If any of that sounds like your kind of read (or if you’re just a universal bookworm like me), here’s a full rundown of which novels I’m itching to dive into over the season!
The Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie (Goodreads | Amazon) The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities, unknown to each other, at the height of their powers–the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Vivid, gripping, irreverent, bawdy, profoundly moving, and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders by one of the world’s most important living writers.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand – Helen Simsonson (Goodreads | Amazon) The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
A Vintage Affair – Isabel Wolff (Goodreads | Amazon) Phoebe always dreamt of opening her own vintage dress shop. She imagined every detail, from the Vivienne Westwood bustiers hanging next to satin gowns, to sequinned cupcake dresses adorning the walls. At the launch of Village Vintage, Phoebe feels the tingle of excitement as customers snap up the fairytale dresses. Her dream has come true, but a secret from her past is casting a shadow over her new venture. Then one day she meets Therese, an elderly Frenchwoman with a collection to sell, apart from one piece that she won’t part with. As Therese tells the story of the little blue coat, Phoebe feels a profound connection with her own life, one that will help her heal the pain of her past and allow her to love again.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall–Kazou Ishiguro (Goodreads | Amazon) Each of these five interconnected “stories of music and nightfall” by the author of The Remains of the Day is told in the first person, and each narrative places music and its players in a new light: One man’s One man’s impeccable taste in music is the only thing his friends value in him. A young cellist becomes the instrument of his tutor. A talented jazz musician, struggling to be recognized, decides that only plastic surgery can save him. A songwriter blunders into the bankrupt marriage of a couple he barely knows. A singer contemplating a comeback makes an irrevocable sacrifice Literary nocturnes with the clarity of music.sacrifice Literary nocturnes with the clarity of music.
It Had to Be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips (Goodreads | Amazon) The Windy City isn’t quite ready for Phoebe Somerville—the outrageous, curvaceous New York knockout who has just inherited the Chicago Stars football team. And Phoebe is definitely not ready for the Stars’ head coach, former gridiron legend Dan Calebow, a sexist jock taskmaster with a one-track mind. Calebow is everything Phoebe abhors. And the sexy new boss is everything Dan despises—a meddling bimbo who doesn’t know a pigskin from a pitcher’s mound. So why is Dan drawn to the shameless sexpot like a heat-seeking missile? And why does the coach’s good ol’ boy charm leave cosmopolitan Phoebe feeling awkward, tongue-tied…and ready to fight? The sexy, heartwarming, and hilarious “prequel” to This Heart of Mine—Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s New York Times bestselling blockbuster—It Had To Be You is an enchanting story of two stubborn people who believe in playing for keeps.
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami(Goodreads|Amazon) Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman. A poignant story of one college student’s romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man’s first, hopeless, and heroic love.
Big thanks go to Carolann of Wonderpug Graphics Blog for the recommendation of Susan Elizabeth Phillips (she wrote a great review of Call Me Irresistable!). Do you ever find yourself planning out a summer reading list? Feel free to share your most anticipated reads, or perhaps your favorite summer books of the past. And thanks so much to Steph for inviting me here for a guest post!