Inspire Great Reading for Summer 2017

Today is the first day of summer. The summer solstice is upon us, meaning that today is the longest day of the year. While this blog post is devoted to reading suggestions, I do recommend staying outside and soaking up the summer sun on the longest day of the year. Lay out in the fields and watch the sunset fade to rich blue with twinklings of stars.

Once you're done enjoying the summer air, go inside and then read a good book before you head to bed. Stay up all night if you want to--because those are the best nights, in my opinion. Last night, I stayed up far too late reading the first book on my list of suggestions.

1. Rainbow Rowell - "Landline" 

"Landline" by Rainbow Rowell
Now, this book was first released in 2014 and I'm just now getting to it. Blame college for taking away my "reading for fun" time. Yes, I was an English major who read usually 20 books per semester, but I have forgotten what it felt like to just read at my own pace. I have forgotten what it was like to stay up all night and fall in love with new characters.

"Landline" was the perfect book for me to begin my summer reading. Rainbow Rowell is the acclaimed author of the bestseller "Eleanor & Park," one of my favorite books to this date. Rowell writes real characters--people I imagine I would know in real life. She's a realist writer, therefore all of her topics revolve around relationships, family life, and careers.

"Landline" is a modern science fiction story, but it definitely doesn't feel like science fiction. Television screenwriter Georgie McCool (Isn't that a cool name for a character?) finally has her chance to write her own television show with her writing partner, Seth. But, this means she must stay home for Christmas instead of traveling to Nebraska with her husband and two young children to visit his mother. Her husband, Neal, leaves and it feels very familiar to the time in college when he broke up with her.

Georgie visits the past each time she uses the landline phone at her mother's house. She hopes Neal answers--wanting to make things right with him. Maybe she can fix the things in their past that always seemed impossible in the present? Maybe they could have a happy marriage? Maybe they can start all over...and maybe not start at all and live separate lives?

"Landline" is a romantic heart-wrenching story, but it's also hilarious with a comical collection of characters--including a two-year-old girl who likes to say "meow" instead of "hello." Now, I haven't finished this story, so I don't know what will happen to these characters, but the way Rowell has written her characters, I hope for the best.

2. Daniel Riley - "Fly Me"

Daniel Riley's "Fly Me"
This book was recommended to me by one of my friends. It's the story about a Vassar graduate, Suzy, who, like many recent college graduates like myself, is facing a new life with multiple responsibilities. Suzy doesn't really know what to do, so she heads to southern California to become a stewardess like her older sister.

Set in the early 1970s, the California lifestyle begins to sink into Suzy. Does she get wrapped up in a drug smuggling scheme? Then there's the case of severe aircraft hijacking. Is Suzy at the center of the drama? Or, is she too caught in the mess to find her way out?

"Fly Me" is Riley's debut novel, and it's the perfect balance between focus and fantasy.

3. Patricia Lockwood - "Priestdaddy: A Memoir" 

Patricia Lockwood's "Priestdaddy: A Memoir"
I've read Lockwood's poetry, and you definitely should, as well. Her poetry is eccentric, yet beautiful at the same time. Her poems have been featured in the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Tin House, and Poetry. Those are remarkable publication venues--a dream for an aspiring poet, like myself.

But now the poet has published a memoir, "Priestdaddy: A Memoir." Lockwood is the daughter of a Catholic priest, but he's not your typical picture of a Catholic priest. He conducts family meetings in his underwear. He carries a gun, drinks Baileys Irish Cream, and hates felines. Just like Lockwood, he's, well, eccentric.

The memoir brings a new dimension to the idea of being a "priest's daughter." It's a 'laugh out loud' piece of creative nonfiction. The Lockwood family feels like your own family.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald - "The Great Gatsby" 

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby"
Yes, I'm going classical with this suggestion. There's just something about Gatsby that I love to read each summer. There's the lavish parties, existentially distressed debutantes, hot weather, love triangle, American dreams, and of course, the green light across the bay.

I call Fitzgerald my literary boyfriend. He's my favorite author. His prose is poetic and enticing, but also, he gave me one of my favorite literary characters of all time--Jay Gatsby. I'm sure most of you reading this blog post read "The Great Gatsby" in high school, but have you returned to it since then? Have you traveled back in time to the roaring 1920s, when the parties were louder and the American dream was on everyone's mind?

While not everyone agrees that "The Great Gatsby" is an American classic--"the great American novel"--I don't care. Even though I have read this novel multiple times (I'll say seven), I would pick it up again this summer. I would read it outside, sipping pink lemonade and relaxing under the summer sunshine.

Plus, there's that Fitzgerald prose.

5. Jessica Lee - "Turning: A Swimming Memoir" 

Jessica Lee's "Turning: A Swimming Memoir"
Lee's memoir is perfect for summer reading. It focuses on swimming and the cathartic effect that can arrive through the act of pulling yourself through the water. As a swimmer myself, it's relaxing to sink beneath the water, but then only to push back up to the surface.

"Turning: A Swimming Memoir" is Lee's debut novel. It documents her attempt to swim in 52 German lakes over 52 weeks. Why do this? She has a desire to overcome a broken heart, and with each push and pull in the water, she hauls herself from the depression.

If anything, this piece of creative nonfiction will convince you to get out of the house, jump into the water and swim. I know I don't need to be convinced.


Reading is inspiration on the page. While I'm reading Rainbow Rowell's "Landline," I'm inspired by the dynamic characters. I continually find myself inspired by new writing. Maybe I'll go write my own new piece of poetry or creative nonfiction, and I credit the inspiration from the books I read.

Inspire great reading for this summer. If you have a book you absolutely love, tell your friends. Suggest these readings because the works need to be read. If you have books filling up your bookcase, pick one up and start reading. You never know what you'll find.

You might just be inspired.



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