Your Guide to Summer Reading

Your Guide to Summer Reading

Hi friends! Even though we’re well into summer, I wanted to do another book post! I’m changing up my seasonal book recommendations and instead sharing a guide to summer reading, rather than a list of titles. Summer reading is a totally different animal to rest-of-the-year reading. Instead, here’s my approach to what I reach for during the summer:

1. Mass-market paperbacks of New York Times Bestsellers (new…or decades old). Summer isn’t a dark, rainy, ponderous time of year for sitting sedentary in your armchair and contemplating philosophy (I mean, power to you if that’s your thing, but I save that for the winter months). Summer is the best season for tucking a paperback of something light and easily digestible into your purse while you head to the beach or the park; nothing that requires a ton of emotional energy, but good page-turners, nonetheless. Use summer to check out the bestsellers you’ve avoided while you were re-reading classic literature the whole year…(ahem…). My current NYT bestselling paperback is At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon, a delightfully easy, summer read.

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2. Memoirs. Summer is a great time of year to read about something entirely new and different, and what could be more different than the first-person perspective of another person’s life? One caveat for me is that they not be too depressing– I love feeling uplifted this time of year (I can read depressing things in fall or during Lent). Memoirs or other first-person experience stories like Mennonite in A Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen or Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes can be hilarious or evocative page-turners. I recently re-read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, which recounts his experience walking the Appalachian Trail, a perfect summer theme!

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3. Outside-Your-Comfort-Zone genres and subjects. This really gets at the heart of what I reserve summer reading time for– all the things I just don’t feel like reading the rest of the year. I spend SO much time doing re-reads of books and genres that bring me comfort and familiarity during fall, winter and spring that if I’m ever going to try something new it’s usually going to be during summer. Never tried fantasy? Maybe sci-fi isn’t your thing? For some reason there’s less guilt if you don’t end up finishing a book you start when your days are so full of other outdoorsy things, so testing a new genre feels like less of a commitment. This summer I’ve picked up books about other religions I don’t know much about, and I’m dabbling in contemporary fiction which is unusual for me.

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4. Non-fiction: history. I spend a TON of time reading historical fiction but again, it’s a good time of year to learn things (I guess that’s true of every season!). History is kind of like time-travel, and as summer is the season for travel and adventure, it’s appropriate to be swept away to other times and places. Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton has been flying off shelves for the last few years, and is a good candidate for a summer read. Some of my favorites are Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraiser, and One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson.

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5. Non-fiction: other stuff. In the spirit of adventure, I’ve picked up a bunch of educational books on all kinds of topics, and though they aren’t the kind of books you read cover-to-cover, they’re the kind you can learn a ton from just by flipping through. Books on raising toddlers, nutrition, home decorating, dieting…not precisely self-help, but books that definitely help when you want to learn more about a specific topic.

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So, there you have it! Happy summer reading, everyone!

Hello July and Happy Birthday “A Room Full of Roses!”

Hello July and Happy Birthday “A Room Full of Roses!”

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“Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—”

~Emily Dickinson

 

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I can’t believe July has finally rolled around. Summer in full swing, Fourth of July celebrations, hot dogs, fireworks, watermelons, and warm poolside days mark this festive month, at least for me!

 

Also, it’s officially the ONE YEAR anniversary of this blog! Holy cow, I can’t believe it! You all have stuck with me through so many seasons—not just the full four seasons of a year, but my seasons of grief, which have waxed and waned, and moved through me in the mysterious, often unfathomable way of grief. I really appreciate it. It feels so good to know that even one person reads my ramblings, let alone a good bunch! It has been quite a journey. Last year when I started blogging, I was in the midst of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, and due to family dynamics and challenges that other family members were facing at the time, I was utterly alone and isolated in my grief. I had wanted a memorial for Gram because I needed the support of people who loved her, but it was not meant to be. Instead, I just started writing. I needed to process my feelings, and I’ve felt such support from my dear loved ones who take the time to read what I have to say. I am so grateful to you!

 

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As you might have noticed, there have been a few changes around here in preparation for this milestone, namely that the name of this blog has changed ever so slightly, going from “Room Full of Roses” to “A Room Full of Roses” due to me caving, upgrading this blog and buying the domain. However, the morally corrupt people who devote their lives to buying domains and then accepting outrageous bribes for their release had, naturally, already purchased roomfullofroses.com, so adding an “A” was necessary. I don’t mind though, it works well! I’m hoping to spruce the place up a bit more in the coming weeks and months as well.

 

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Mom likes to joke about sharing her birthday with Harry Potter, and as her birthday falls on the 31st, we will likely do something fun with her the weekend before. Things are really winding down for our U.K. trip and I imagine we will be running around like chickens with our heads cut off, putting all the final details in place and packing that weekend as well!

 

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Here’s what’s on the calendar for July:

 

 3rd—Feast of St. Thomas

4th—Fourth of July

10th—National Kitten Day (!!!)

11th—Feast of St. Benedict

13th—National French Fry Day (sounds like a good excuse to eat fries for the first time in months)

14th—Feast of Kateri Tekakwitha

16th—National Ice Cream Day (so many good food days in July!)

19th—National Hot Dog Day (ok, I’m going to gain all my weight back…)

25th—Feast of St. James

31st—Mom’s birthday, Harry Potter’s birthday, Fest of St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

What do you have going on this month? Love to you all!

 

 

Hello Summer!

Hello Summer!

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It’s finally here!! Sweet, hot, delightful, joyful summertime! I’m so excited for summer this year. It’s normally not my favorite season, but I don’t know what it is…for some reason, this year is different. Living south of San Francisco, we get to enjoy summer heat, summer sun, outdoor swimming pools, and all the fun the beautiful South Bay has to offer.

We have adventures planned, and not just international ones. Husband recently went camping in the high Sierras, we have plans for weekend outings to Half Moon Bay and other stops along the breathtaking California coast…and even though I’m not a spontaneous or stereotypically adventurous person, I know we’ll be running off hither and thither to bask in the sun in various ways over the next few months.

My most favorite aspect of summer, far and away, is the heat. The Bay Area is notoriously mild– and when I say notorious I’m looking at you, Outer Sunset. This part of the city is blanketed in fog from June through September, and it was so depressing to survive winter and spring, just to have to spend all summer making stews because you’re still freezing! Now that we’ve moved south, we get to experience heat, and it is such a novelty to be sweater-free, and to feel comfortable in skirts without worrying you’ll get chilly. Another thing related to heat is food– it is profoundly easier to eat clean, light, raw and otherwise healthy foods when you’re hot. Cold weather invites calorie binging. Hot weather invites simple, clean eating. Many years ago when I lived in the Sierras and the weather was scorching, I would occasionally just eat fruit– maybe a few peaches in a day– and that was it! And I felt good! It was too hot to eat and too hot to cook, anyway.

A summer tradition in my family is our many summer “porch parties”– dinners on my parent’s deck, where Dad barbecues and friends gather around the table, the evenings illuminated first by a lazy setting sun, and then by white fairy lights and myriad candles. We have a few nice ones planned this year, and I’m going to revive some Moroccan recipes I used to make that have fallen by the wayside.

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What do you have planned this summer?

“Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” — Henry James