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Building a Summer Reading List

May '14

When summer begins, I think of books – a tall pile of different books just waiting to be devoured. I must admit these days the actual books exist on my iPad, but an image of a large stack of books brings immediate joy to those of us who love to read.

So I thought it might be fun this year to create a tower of beloved books selected by the readers of this newsletter. If you will let me know your favorite book of last year, I will compile a list of everyone’s entries and send it out before next month’s issue. So what was the best book you read last year? Simply enter the title and author of that book in the comment section below and add a word or two about it, if you like. Or reply to this email message with your entry submitted in the reply.

I’ll start us off by placing a very thick book at the bottom of the pile: Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. O magazine called it, “The read of a lifetime” and I agree. If you liked her very popular, Eat, Pray, Love, I think you’ll love this book. If you didn’t care for Eat, Pray, Love, I still think you’ll love this book. Historical novels with compelling characters are a favorite of mine and any book that teaches me more about the natural world is a winner.  The Signature of All Things meets these favored criteria of mine perfectly.

As I picture this imaginary mound of books, I cannot resist adding a quote from Jane Austen that made me chuckle when I happened across it recently.

It is only a novel… or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.”  – from Northanger Abbey

So of all the books you read last year, which one left the biggest imprint on your heart and mind? Whether fiction or non-fiction, old or new, which one do you want to add to the pile? Please share so we can develop this year’s summer reading list. I can’t wait to build a stack of readers favorite books!

Happy summer and happy reading!




  1. Kristin Gerlach said on May 31, 2014:

    The Light Between Oceans

  2. Caroline Fiore said on May 31, 2014:

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    A rich woven tapestry of plot and characters with a small painting at the center of it all.

  3. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    Thanks, Kristin! And I haven’t read it: )

  4. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    Thanks, Caroline – appreciate the description here!

  5. April Bovet said on May 31, 2014:

    Dear Life by Alice Monro
    These wonderful short stories leave a powerful and lasting impression, loved it.

  6. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    Good to hear from you, April! Fun to have a short story collection.

  7. Jerielle said on May 31, 2014:

    I’d like to add three books to the pile: Anne Lamott’s “Help Thanks Wow!” and “Stitches”, as well as Bunny McBrides’s “By the Light of the Moon.” Deep, soulful, nourishing.

  8. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    How fantastic to add 3 books, Jerielle! And who doesn’t love Anne
    Lamott? Thank you.

  9. Roberta Taylor said on May 31, 2014:

    We just read “And the Mountains Echoed” by Khalid Hosseini, which is about people from a poor village in Afghanistan. It was an excellent read.

    A stupendous book from a couple of years ago is “Cutting For Stone” which traces an odd love affair and gives much medical education at a hospital in Ethiopia. It is a good look at the life of women at the time and place. I can’t remember the author’s name, but if you need it, I will go look for it.

  10. Elizabeth said on May 31, 2014:

    Just one? Tough. Good ones I’ve read recently: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, and the first two books in a trilogy by Amitav Ghosh (the third has not yet been published) – Sea of Poppies and River of Smoke.

  11. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    Hi Roberta! Thanks for these interesting recommendations. The author of “Cutting for Stone” is Abraham Verghese – just looked it up: ) Bonnie

  12. Bonnie said on May 31, 2014:

    Thank you for these suggestions, Elizabeth! For some reason, I always love trilogies. (Robertson Davies comes to mind.) What fun to start on a series when the third book hasn’t been published yet. Bonnie

  13. Linda Andrade Rodrigues said on June 20, 2014:

    I reread two books every summer: “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and “The Country of the Pointed Firs” by Sarah Orne Jewett.

  14. Bonnie said on June 20, 2014:

    Hi Linda!
    Thank you for these wonderful additions! I remember reading, “Gift from the Sea” decades ago when I was home with the flu and found it to be wonderfully nurturing and illuminating. You encourage me to return to it and then pick up ”The Country of the Pointed Fir.”

  15. Ellen Maycock said on July 10, 2014:

    H Bonnie–

    I love the books that you’ve collected here! I’m finally going to reclaim my life–I’m going to be working part-time beginning on August 18. I’m hoping to restart the RI Wellesley Book Group this fall, and hope that your web site can suggest books for us!

    I’m rereading some Jane Austen books this summer–always so wonderful for me! (And I have the full collection of her works on my Kindle, as a fall-back!!) I’ve loved some of the other suggestions–The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (educational and heartbreaking), Cutting for Stone (an earlier choice of our Book Group), and Gifts from the Sea (a soothing book and a reminder to take time for oneself).

    Those of you who read Bonnie’s blog–please suggest titles that would be good for a book group this fall!

    Best wishes, Ellen Maycock

  16. Bonnie said on July 11, 2014:

    Hi Ellen!

    Sounds like you’re creating a wonderful life for yourself! I’m delighted to hear that you’re hoping to start up the RI Wellesley Book Club again. Of all the book titles you mention, the only one I’ve read is “Gifts from the Sea.” The others are now on my list.

    If any folks have other suggestions for good book club reads, please respond to this message, so they can be posted for all to enjoy.


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