Emily M. DeArdo


Summer Reading: June

booksEmily DeArdoComment


As Olaf likes to say, it's.....


(In case, you know, you need an audio refresher. :-P)

Anyway, one of the best parts of summer is the summer reading lists that are everywhere. I've already looked at three so far and I've compiled a list of books that I can't wait to read (and in fact, I've already started some of them). So I thought I'd share my list with you! Some of these I've already finished and I've put my review in, and some are still waiting to be read. 

I love Chris Cleave. I had the great opportunity to meet him when he was in Columbus on book tour for Gold, his last book, and he is such a lovely person--and a fantastic writer. If you haven't read his other books (Gold, Little Bee, and Incendiary) get on that now. 

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is set in London in 1939, just as World War II is beginning. Mary North is the daughter of an MP, and instead of finishing finishing school, she races back to London to help the war effort--to be assigned as a teacher. Not exactly what she had in mind. 

Tom works for the education ministry, and when Mary comes to him asking for a new position, he falls head over heels in love with her. Problem is--his roommate and best friend, Alistair, does too.

The novel is based on the lives of Cleave's grandparents, and like all his novels, the writing is beautiful and the characters engaging.It was unputdownable. Highly recommend it, even if you think you're sick of WWII novels. This one is different. 


This is part of the Jane Austen project, where contemporary authors "reimagine" Jane's work. In Eligible, the story is set in Cincinnati, Darcy is a neurosurgeon, and Bingley was a contestant on a Bachelor-like series called Eligible, which everyone watches but no one will admit to. Lydia and Kitty are Paleo Crossfitters, Jane is a yoga teacher, Lizzy is a magazine writer, and Mary....well, no one really knows what Mary does. I've just started this one. 

I've always loved memoir, and I've been wanting to read this for awhile; I think Ginny Sheller suggested it back in the day. Ohio's biggest industry is farming, and I had a friend in high school whose parents ran a large farming operation--pigs, cows, soybeans/corn. We would go pick corn to have with our dinners in the summer. So I've always been fascinated by stories about farming and the people who do it. 

Kimball writes engagingly about her transformation from a SoHo, quasi-hipster writer to a full-fledged farm wife. Some parts are definitely a little squirm inducing--I could not be a farmer--and it will make you hungry. 

I know this book has been out forever, but I haven't read it yet--and since a sequel (I guess a sequel?) is coming out this summer (it's already out, actually), I figure I should read this one. Here's what Amazon says about it: 

Orphaned during her passage from Ireland, young, white Lavinia arrives on the steps of the kitchen house and is placed, as an indentured servant, under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate slave daughter. Lavinia learns to cook, clean, and serve food, while guided by the quiet strength and love of her new family.

In time, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, caring for the master’s opium-addicted wife and befriending his dangerous yet protective son. She attempts to straddle the worlds of the kitchen and big house, but her skin color will forever set her apart from Belle and the other slaves.

Through the unique eyes of Lavinia and Belle, Grissom’s debut novel unfolds in a heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful story of class, race, dignity, deep-buried secrets, and familial bonds

So, if Kitchen House is good, then I'll be reading: 

I realize the name of this one might make some of you freak out. No, I'm not becoming a pantheist or a polytheist, guys! This story is very Joy Luck Club, except it follows three generations of one family, living in Kolkata, California, and Houston. The writing is elegant, and the three strands of stories are woven together for a satisfying conclusion. 


The Accidental Empress and Sisi: Empress on Her Own, by Alison Pataki

Together, these novels trace the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who, at 15, married Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria- Hungary, in the last years of the Habsburg Empire. She's "accidental" because her sister Helene was supposed to marry the Emperor, not impulsive, artistic 15 year old Sisi. And after her marriage has already taken place, Sisi begins to realize she may have made a huge mistake. The books are compulsively readable, dripping with great characters, and most of it is taken directly from the historical record. 



What's on your summer reading list?