Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Monday! And I'm Looking For Summer Books (Help Me)!

A couple of weeks have passed since I’ve done a Monday update, so I suppose I’m overdue. I’ve been busy with some nonfiction recently. I read The Hungry Mind by Susan Engel, which involves thinking about the relationship between curiosity development and schools. I also read Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County by Kristen Green, which takes a look at both African-American activism around and white resistance to desegregation in Maryland. The book is a timely look at the connection between race and education and power.

As the temperature has skyrocketed in my neck of the woods, I have been on the hunt for a really good summer read. And when I say “a summer read,” I mean some fiction that is not-put-downable. I did recently read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which was a rare science fiction-esque choice for me – and I really loved it. I also read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was balm to my still wounded spirit after the horror of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.

I think the next book in line will be Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos, for the sole reason that it has a beach chair on the cover. The book jacket description says it’s about parents acting crazy and kids becoming confused. Sounds promising!

Speaking of beach chairs, I’m guessing you’re all sitting on the edge of your own to hear about the Judy Blume event.  This was essentially a sorority gathering of middle-aged ladies, who squealed and tittered at the notion that Blume might someday write about Margaret going through menopause. (Blume denies this will happen).

There is something truly marvelous about the idea that books can be part of the identity of a generation. Whether it’s the Judy Blume Canon for greying women or Harry Potter for Millenials or The Hunger Games for today’s teens, it’s noteworthy that reading can provide a common touchstone. In fact, my favorite moment of the night happened when Famous Librarian Nancy Pearl and Judy Blume fangirled out together about the Betsy Tacy books that they both loved as children.

Nancy Pearl (left) and Judy Blume (right)
However, Judy Blume's purpose in gathering her fans in one place was only partly to reminisce about bookish sisterhood. She was also there to promote her new novel, In the Unlikely Event. The book is a fictional take on the year that three planes crashed in Elizabeth, NJ, where Blume grew up.

And it turns out that the book is simply about the weirdness of three planes crashing. That’s it. There doesn't seem to be any larger symbolism or ideas to consider, except for the fact that random bad (and good) events happen in life. The characters go through normal things (boyfriends betray you, work can be fulfilling, family problems are irritating), and every so often a plane falls from the sky. This strikes me as a book that never quite got beyond the “I have a great idea” stage – even though there are nearly 400 pages of writing. Sadly, In the Unlikely Event did not scratch my itch for a great summer read.

I’m curious to hear from you all about your own summer reading plans. Are you a silly or serious summer reader? Do you make plans or follow your whims? Please let me know in the blog's "comments" section or on The Leaning Stack of Books Facebook page.


Lisa said...

I would have to have heard the discussion of the Betsy-Tacy books! No one else I know (in real life) has read them.

I don't usually plan any special summer reading, but then I don't usually plan my reading at all - I am incapable of sticking to a plan or schedule. I know what you mean about wanting books that grab you, though. I'll look forward to seeing what you choose - or what chooses you :)

jennifer said...

Check this out!

Also, it looks like you just missed the Betsy Tacy Festival! ;)