Summer Reading List
Some bestsellers don’t do it for me. I no longer care what a flighty 20-something who can’t quite figure out boys, money, or style has to say. At least, I don’t care enough to invest what little reading time I have into her perspective and thoughts. How about you? I’ve put together this reading list for us 40-somethings. The great news – there are plenty of new(ish) reads. If there’s a book you love that should be on my reading list, please tell me. I love a good read!
Which leads me to a fashion blogger poser confession:
When I was a tween and teen, I wanted to wear the trends from Dayton’s. It was the most expensive department store in my hometown. I wanted to be popular and athletic; to fit in. Yet, my money and time was spent on books. Little was more pleasurable to me than drinking a Pepsi, eating a bag of Sugar Babies, and reading a book from The Sweet Valley Twins series.
Today, I enjoy looking fashionable and writing about style. I have friends whom I adore, I’m in good shape; and, while I feel I fit in most of the time, I’m content to be the sore thumb. My love of high heels make sticking out inevitable.
Yet, books, writing, stories, social justice, and politics intrigue me far more than fashion, beauty, and my image. What intrigues you? What do you care about? BTW, I no longer drink Pepsi or eat Sugar Babies.
This Summer’s Reading List:
There Are No Grownups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story by Pamela Druckerman (https://amzn.to/2taNDpu). Druckerman is the older sister I wish I had. I was so pleased to read in her book that if the 40s have a color, it’s navy. I find myself wearing that color more and more. And, I agree with her statement that, “At 40 you are still young. Just too old to be clueless.”
Love in a Tuscan Kitchen: Savoring Life Through the Romance, Recipes, and Traditions of Italy by Sheryl Ness (https://amzn.to/2MtXuj0) Ness decided to stopped doing what everyone expected her to do and started following her heart in her 40s. She went to Italy, fell in love in Tuscany, and became The Chef’s Wife. This inspiring book includes 38 recipes. From it, I have made Concetta’s Mother’s Tomato Sauce and received smiling faces, compliments, and empty plates in thanks. On the day I purchased the book, I sampled Lavender Ginger Biscotti. It’s delicious.
Coming to My Senses:The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Waters (https://amzn.to/2t3rp9I)
I remember being loaned a Chez Panisse Cookbook written by Waters when I was 21 and living in Pendleton, Oregon. I left Pendleton to spend Christmas with family and never returned myself or the book. During my first trip to Berkeley and San Francisco I dined at the famous Chez Panisse with my fiance and one of his sons. The place is a quiet, welcoming refuge that serves delicious, well-portioned meals. I began listening to Waters’s book today while working out. At this moment, I want to create a calm and welcoming refuge for my family and friends; and, to try a new way of making grilled cheese by rubbing garlic onto the bread, drizzling olive oil, and using Alpine cheese.
Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way by Kamin Mohammadi (https://amzn.to/2K31FEh)
It seems most problems in a woman’s life can be solved by going to Italy. I can’t jet off to the country, so I might as well live and learn from those who have been there.
Ghostbuster’s Daughter: Life With My Dad, Harold Ramis by Violet Ramis Stiel (https://amzn.to/2yjfLMP)
I was five and struck by an awful flu of the sort that has a person flitting between waking and sleeping. My mom was watching the movie Stripes using a VCR. We rented the movie and the VCR itself may have been rented too. I remember giggling at the movie, feeling comforted by the light humored way Ramis and Murray joked around. I didn’t get a lot of what they were saying, but they reminded me of my uncles. Today, the thought of reading a book about a much-admired Hollywood man who shaped American Comedy and had a close, solid relationship with his daughter makes me smile so much, I can’t wait to begin it.
Life Lessons and Useful Ideas
The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey (https://amzn.to/2t1ijue)
I have read this book before and I just might read it again. My fiance and I listened to it on our drive home from visiting my daughter and our granddaughter in Saint Louis, Missouri. We are going to become lean, money making and saving machines. For more details on our plan, check out Do you need a financial diet? We’re doing a total money makeover in our house.
Slow Beauty: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish the Body and Feed the Soul by Shel Pink (https://amzn.to/2JSoVBl)
I want to create a more sustainable sense of beauty in my life and I think this book might help me do it. Pink provides recipes for making homemade beauty products. Recipes to eat are also included. Given the financial diet we are going on in our house, I have put a hold on the book at our local library and am anxiously waiting for it to arrive.
On the Serious Side
Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean (https://amzn.to/2JQTgjS)
This book promises to be a mix of biography, literary criticism, and cultural history. In it, Dean celebrates the sharpness of 10 brilliant women. The list includes two women I have long admired: Nora Ephron and Joan Didion.
A Little Piece of Light by Donna Hylton (https://amzn.to/2MwoMp7)
I first heard about Hylton’s story while driving and listening to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR). She spent 27 years in prison. Once released, she became a criminal justice reform advocate and a women’s rights advocate. Once home from my drive, I Googled her and read more about her in The Washington Post:
“When the author was 19, she was sentenced to 25 years to life for kidnapping and second-degree murder. It was in prison where she realized that her history of mental, physical and sexual abuse wasn’t unique…What she experienced prompted her to devote her life inside (and eventually outside) prison to the rehabilitation of society’s castoffs.” — Christina Ledbetter.
Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright (https://amzn.to/2libTT4)
“History is doomed to repeat itself unless we learn its lessons.” I remember one of my favorite history teachers reciting that mantra over and again. According to Harpers Collins, the book’s publisher, Fascism: A Warning is “A personal and urgent examination of Fascism in the twentieth century and how its legacy shapes today’s world, written by one of America’s most admired public servants, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of state.” I think this thought-provoking book will be worth my time.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America by Beth Macy (https://amzn.to/2JXfdhj)
This is another read that I heard about on MPR first. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear a report on the opioid epidemic. So far as I know, my family has been untouched by it. Though, so often it’s hard to know the lives of others even if connected by blood. In the New York Times, Janet Maslin called Macy’s book essential reading. “Macy follows one specific drug through the range of problems it has caused, the people it has hurt, the difficulties in fighting it (with plenty of too little, too late) and the glimmers of hope that remain.”
When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger (https://amzn.to/2ygK1rW)
More than 15 publications from Harper’s Bazaar to Redbook have put this book on their best books of summer list, so I’m thinking it’s worth a read. In The Devil Wears Prada, the character Emily Charlton is the icy young woman promoted before Andy (played by Anne Hathaway in the movie) was hired. Emily is 15 years older and the protagonist of Weisberger’s most recent book, When Life Gives You Lululemons. After flitting through the first few pages, she seems to be a character worth reading more about.
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson (https://amzn.to/2JX9pnZ)
Being 40-something, raising teenagers, having a husband decide to shift careers into something that brings in no money – easy, right? This book has also made a number of best of summer lists and the New York Times Book Review says it’s, “Filled with smart insights…Kate makes good company. You can’t help rooting for her.”
Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton (https://amzn.to/2ynwyyy)
The book description had me at, “They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them…” I love the High Line park and trail in Manhattan. The book is said to be an intense thriller akin to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Like my other two fiction picks for this summer, it’s on many a must-read list.