3 on: Summer Reads

Last  week marked the official start of summer  in my part of the world. I drove down the Pacific Coast weekend highway this past weekend and aside from the traffic,  the coastline gorgeous and the beaches full.  I am not a huge fan of Summer, but Summer to me always means travel. Even when I wasn’t physically going somewhere, I indulged myself immensely with that armchair traveling.   To mark the start of Summer 2016 I wanted to share three books that encompass summer, travel, adventure, change, and just everything that to me embodies summer.

Wanderlove  Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Since I started this Blog, I feel like I have mentioned this book every summer, and here’s to another one. This book will never lose it’s charm for me. It’s the summer I know I will have some day. The book follows Bria who has recently graduated high school. She’s an artist who has lost her passion after a passing up an opportunity of a lifetime, and a subsequent breakup. She decides to do something out of the ordinary and books a guided tour to Guatemala. Not the typical place an eighteen year old goes alone, but she decides to just go for it. Along the way she meets a brother sister traveling backpacking duo who convince her to ditch the intinerary  and fancy hotels,  for a backpack and hostels.  Bria finds herself drinking coke from a plastic bag with a straw, riding buses alongside chickens, and taking showers with buckets of ice cold water. I am very familiar with Central America, and this books brought out all kinds of nostalgia in me. I enjoyed reading this perspective of life in Central American, and the respect Bria grows to have for its people and culture. My all time favorite travel book. Central America is  beautiful region of the world, and I think Kirsten Hubbard did a fantastic job in representing it.

 

                                                                           Me, You

Me, You by Erri De Luca

Me, You takes you back to that summer of self-discovery and change. For me, it was the summer before high school when I spent two months in Nicaragua living with my mom’s family. It was the summer that forever changed me, and the way I look at the world. Me, You evoked that sense of nostalgia for that in between phase when you’re still  a child, but growing into the adult you’ll become.  The book takes place on an island off the coast of Naples. The characters are still reeling from the aftermath of World War II, and as a result, relationships are tense. Our young nameless narrator visits the island for the summer and he befriends a local fisherman, Nicola. Nicola regals him with tales from the war, which to many Italians, is a subject of taboo. Our narrator also falls in love for the first time with  young Jewish survivor battling her memories and demons.  Me, You is lovely quite novel that reads so fluidly. It’s filled with lush imagery and unexpected turns. I wanted to visit this small island, and lounge around the beaches and listen to Nicola’s stories with a glass of wine.

Jello  On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetti

I love Melina Marchetti and this is my favorite of her books. It has lovable characters that I seriously wanted to be friends with, humor, and so much more. The writing is beautiful as is the characterization. Taylor lives in a boarding school in a town where every summer, the townies, the cadets, and the boarders fight for dominion over the forest and town. The novel takes place in Australia and gives a fascinating look at Australian small town culture. This book is complicated to explain, and explaining will only take away some of its charm. I will say, however, that on the surface, it sounds like a fun witty YA novel, and it is that, but it also delves into  dark and disturbing places. Marchettta writes believable young characters with a grace that left me wanting more. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed my time with this book, and how I craved more when it was over. Trust me with this one, less is more.

 

Summer Reads I will be reading this week:

The Rocks by Peter Nichols

Relief Map by Rosalie Knecht

3 notable mentions:

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Here are a few  articles on the best summer reading book:

http://best-books.publishersweekly.com/pw/best-books/summer-reads-2016

http://www.elle.com/culture/books/a35543/19-summer-books-for-every-kind-of-warm-weather-reader/

http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/Beach-Reads-Women-29238806#photo-29238806

http://www.vogue.com/13450235/beach-reads-summer-best-books/

What’s a book that makes you think of summer? Do you have any summer reading recommendations?

Happy Summer and Happy Reading 🙂

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For Poet Enthusiast and the Poet Reluctant

I know for many people poetry is a love hate thing, and I completely understand why. While I am a professed poetry lover, I must confess that I don’t love it all. Not all poetry is the same. Poetry can either blow your mind, or frankly bore you to tears. Today I have four poetry collections written by women that are different, mind blowing, and thought provoking. I make no guarantees about falling in love with poetry after reading them, however, I don’t think you’ll have the urge to nod off mid-verse while reading them either.  These women are fearless and relentless, and tell you exactly how it is in such a beautiful and simplistic way.

 

war

Warsan Shire’s first poetry collection Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth delves into the darkness of being a woman, a refugee, and a person of color.  Her poems are raw. She tackles her family’s life and eventual flight from war torn Somalia.  Her poems are an intimate look at what war does to families and women.  She writes about the loss and loneliness, of refugee life in a country where her beauty is other and not appreciated, strength, heartbreak, witnessing one’s own city turn to ash, and former lovers turn into murderers. Ultimately, her poems speak about the power of human endurance in the face of atrocity. They are absolutely timeless, and reflective of the world’s current climate. “I hope the journey meant more than miles, because all of my children are in the water. I thought the see was safer than the land.”

 

z

Suheir Hammad is a Brooklyn raised Palestinian poet who writes about the ghost of her ancestral homeland, Palestine. She doesn’t shy away from making you uncomfortable. In fact, that’s what she aims to do in her poetry collection, Zaatar Diva. In making the reader face the harshness of diaspora, she humanizes it by showing how even the most cruelest situations can give birth to compassion.  Hammad’s poems depict Palestinian culture both here in the United States and in Palestine. She writes about her mother’s love of music, her sisters’ strength and love, her own love for her family, the struggle of being of Middle Eastern desent post   9/11, and her dedication to fight for human dignity everywhere. “But these people 42851-054-5812 the believe human being can never be reduced to numbers not in concentration camps or reservations not in refuge camps not in schools and not in jails.”

 

Sara Kay

Sarah Kay ‘s No Matter The Wreckage has a little bit for us all. The poet enthusiast and the poet reluctant. She can be sharp and serious in one verse, and silly and playful the next. Chances are you might have seen some of her spoken word performances online, and many of those same poems are in No Matter The Wreckage. Her poems are perfect to read at any stage in your life, and for any mood. They can make you cry and laugh in the same breath. Her poem’s topics range from forbidden love in India, reincarnation, the bombing of Hiroshima, and the strength and courage she wants to pass on to her daughter. “You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.”

Milk and HOney

Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey gives words to feelings you didn’t even know you had. I felt so proud to be a woman while reading her collection. I felt an ownership over my own body and feelings.  She validates every feeling of loneliness, heartbreak, and longing you have and will ever feel. So many amazing verses and one liners that help you make sense of the nonsensical.   Kaur’s collection features themes of abuse, love, sexuality, and feminism. Her poems are a glass of wine on a rough day. “Our backs tell stories no books have the spine to carry.

Have any of you read these or seen these women’s perform their poems? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy Reading 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best of May

May marked the end of the semester, and as you can imagine my brain was quite tired from all the academic reading and writing it went through, so I needed a break. Why does school disorient us so much? I spent much of the early part of the month catching up on shows, and with my own writing. A thing I always feel I never have enough time for. Mid-month, however, I got back into the swing of things and managed to read and enjoy a few books. Most of them were hit or misses to be honest, but two  really stuck out, and  they proved to be just the boost I needed to see out the month with a few winners.

 

ALbion

Daughter of Albion by Ilka Tampke

This is a historical fiction/fantasy novel  that takes place in ancient Britain.  While reading this, I realized how little I know about this part of the world, during this time period. Much of what I read has been through a male perspective and its all been war, honor, and bloodshed. Daughter of Albion tackles these issues as well, but we also get a glimpse of the women perspective. Which in my opinion is so much richer.   We are introduced to Allia, an orphaned girl who works in the kitchen of the Tribesqueen in the village of Caer Cod. In this society, Skin is everything. It is the mark of family and tradition. Without Skin, one cannot marry or hold higher positions. Allia doesn’t know hers, and while she lives a good life in the village, her lack of  skin  is a huge void in her life. However, Allia’s life changes as she encounters a mysterious salmon in the water who leads her to the land of the Mothers: the ancient goddess of the land who have chosen Allia to lead a special role in the upcoming Roman invasion. I loved reading a book about women being in charge, and the connection this society had to each other, animals, and the Earth. The writing was descriptive and vivid,  Allia was an endearing character, and I loved learning about this time period. Highly recommend for history and fantasy lovers.

 

Body

The Body where I was Born by Guadalupe Nettel

“Perhaps, by the time I finally finish, this book won’t be more than a collection of lies to my parents and my brother. I console myself by thinking that all objectivity is subjective.”

Most definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I adored Guadalupe Nettel’s writing. This is a small book detailing the life of young Mexican girl from the moment she was born with a deficiency in her eye, up until her late teens. Told in retrospect from the now adult woman’s psychoanalyst sessions, the novel gives us an intimate look at this young women’s strange and surreal childhood. We never learn her name, but we learn what life was like growing up  with sexually free parents in the 70s, later moving to France discovering the world of immigrant life, and coming back to Mexico to live with a distant and strict grandmother. What truly struck me about this books is the writing. I was lost in it, and I didn’t want to come out. Nettlel’s writing reminded me of Yoko Ogawa, who I’ve mentioned quite a few times as being one of my all time favorite authors, so that is a high praise coming from me.

Other notable Reads this month:

March: Book 2  by John Andrews and Andew Aydin (The second book in the amazing graphic novel series about the civil rights movement.)

A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (France and  a doomed love affair. Need I say more?)

Room by Emma Donaghue (Don’t know exactly how I feel about this one, but one thing is for sure, I could not put it down. It was so gripping and frustrating, and just ugh! So many feels)

There you go, that was my best of May in books. I am looking at  a pretty busy June, so I hope the reading front doesn’t suffer because of it. What were some of the best books you read in May?

Happy Reading 🙂