I've been on a roll reading and thought I'd share a couple of titles with those of you looking for a good beach book or 2. Although I generally read a pretty even mix of fiction and nonfiction (particularly biographies), the last three books I've read are all fiction. Escapism is good, know what I mean?
Have you read Steig Larsson's Milennium series? If not, what are you waiting for? The series began with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, continued with The Girl who Played with Fire and seemingly concluded with the recently translated and published, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The author's personal circumstances are pretty interesting, and also more than a bit tragic, which only adds to the mystique created by his outstanding series. Steig Larsson was a Swedish journalist, like his protagonist Mikael Blomkvist, and both were devoted to uncovering corruption and correcting injustices. Blomkvist becomes intimately connected to an antisocial, computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander, and together they expose a far reaching government plot designed to protect the undeserving at the expense of the vulnerable. These are terrific books, well written, with characters who leap off of the page. Lucky you, if you haven't read any of them yet - because now you have three great books to read this summer! There is a 4th book, that Larsson left incomplete upon his unexpected death, which may someday be released but, for now, the series originally projected to include 10 titles, culminates with book three.
Are you familiar with the father/son books Beautiful Boy and Tweak? These are nonfiction accounts of a family's struggles with substance abuse and addiction and were published about five years ago. They are popular books in my library and circulate regularly. Anne Lamott has created a fictionalized account of a family and their realization that their 17 year-old daughter is more than a recreational partier in the novel Imperfect Birds. This is one of those books that breaks your heart a little more with each page and I really enjoyed Lamott's writing. I was surprised to learn that this book is actually related to two previous Lamott works (Crooked Little Heart and Rosie) published quite a few years ago, but I certainly didn't sense that I was missing any necessary foundation material. A terrific story told in realistic voices which continue to resonate after the final page has been turned.
When I really grow up, I seriously want to be Anna Quindlen. I've been reading her writing for many years and I love her ability to sensitively tell a story which contains both everyday normalcy, as well as horrific situations. I love, love, love her writing. She truly understands the fragility of life and demonstrates an acceptance of the flaws which we each possess and I find her inspiring. This novel begins by describing the ordinary circumstances of a family of five, their daily activities and their concerns and aspirations for the future. As the book continues, an act of extreme violence occurs and Mary Beth Latham must consider where and when the original seeds of destruction were planted, and how to continue in a life dramatically changed. I could not put this book down and found myself re-reading particular passages to simply absorb the beauty of the language Quindlen masterfully uses. Please publish another book soon, Anna.
So - go forth and read! And don't forget to share your recommendations here.