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Ramp Up Your Summer Reading with These 4 Possibilities

July '20

My first question for you is, “Are you reading more or less in the midst of this pandemic?” I find some folks reading more, and some reading less to their surprise. Whatever your situation, I thought it might be fun to suggest some summer reading options.

Here are four possibilities: 1) a Booker Prize finalist, 2) a new selection from my local book club, 3) a lighter read from the Cozy Mystery List blog, and 4) a personal choice. Admittedly, I have not read the first three suggestions. (My membership in four book clubs via Zoom has kept me tied up with other titles.) However, all of these choices come with strong recommendations, as well as 4.5 stars on Amazon.

1) A 2020 Booker Prize finalist:

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann (Germany-German), translated by Ross Benjamin

The Penguin Random House Books page describes this newly published book, “Daniel Kehlmann masterfully weaves the fates of many historical figures into this enchanting work of magical realism and adventure. This account of the seventeenth-century vagabond performer and trickster Tyll Ulenspiegel begins when he’s a scrawny boy growing up in a quiet village. When his father, a miller with a secret interest in alchemy and magic, is found out by the church, Tyll is forced to flee with the baker’s daughter, Nele. They find safety and companionship with a traveling performer, who teaches Tyll his trade. And so begins a journey of discovery and performance for Tyll, as he travels through a continent devastated by the Thirty Years’ War and encounters along the way a hangman, a fraudulent Jesuit scholar, and the exiled King Frederick and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia.

2) A Newcomers Club (Princeton) Book Talk choice for the coming year:

The Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and Ginny Tapley Takemon

Sarah Gilmartin of the Irish Times calls this book “a deeply engaging debut novel,” and says, “Convenience Store Woman tells the story of a 36-year-old social misfit who has worked for 18 years in a titular store in Tokyo. Though her family and friends are aghast at this waste of her life and education, Keiko took the job upon leaving school as a way to be ‘reborn’, to become a ‘normal cog in society.’ Murata writes with a deadpan humour in early scenes that have much fun depicting Keiko the outsider.”

3) A lighter read from the Cozy Mystery List blog:

And Then There Were Crumbs, by Eve Calder in the Cookie House Mystery Series

The Amazon description reads, “Kate McGuire’s life was sweet in Manhattan before she lost her restaurant job and fiancé both. But sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, and soon she finds herself starting from scratch in the island town of Coral Cay, Florida. It has everything she’s looking for: sunny beaches, friendly locals, and a Help Wanted sign in the bakery shop window. Once she convinces the shop’s crusty owner Sam Hepplewhite to hire her, Kate can’t tie on her apron fast enough. Little does she know that trouble, like warm dough, is on the rise. . . ”

4) My personal choice:

 Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu.

Carolyn Kellogg of the Washington Post writes about this book, “One of the funniest books of the year has arrived, a delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire. Interior Chinatown follows a Generic Asian Man in his efforts to become more than a bit player. ‘Ever since you were a boy, you’ve dreamt of being Kung Fu Guy,’ he tells himself over and over, a mantra for success. He wants to move from the background to the center of the screen. It’s not easy. For the past century or so, American movies and television have relegated Asian characters and actors to the margins, with few exceptions. Generic Asian Man — he has a name, Willis Wu — is stuck playing Background Oriental Male. If he’s lucky, he might get to speak a few words as Delivery Guy. Willis is trapped in these roles — not just as an aspiring actor but as a character on a page. That’s because this novel is written in the form of a Hollywood screenplay.”

I listened to this book on audible rather than reading it, because it wasn’t available from the library as an eBook for weeks. To my surprise, I enjoyed the book enormously in this listening mode. I suspect a talented narrator, and the dialogue format of the writer made this approach so effective. I recommend that you try listening to it.

Have you read any of these books? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Or do you have a favorite book to recommend? Please add it to this list for folks! And if you feel like it, do share whether you are reading more, or less, or about the same amount during this pandemic.

Thanks and happy reading!


  1. Claire Shaw said on July 31, 2020:

    Hi, Bonnie . . .
    I read Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile and thought it was terrific. One year (May 10, 1940-May 10, 1941) in the life of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, his family, his colleagues and, of course, the villains of the piece, Hitler, Georing, Hess and several others. Although I dislike the term “readable”, I found this book to be a page-turner. In talking about the book with a friend, she recommended In The Garden of Beasts, also by Larson, which I also enjoyed very much.
    Hope you and yours are all well.

  2. Bonnie said on August 1, 2020:

    How lovely to hear from you, Claire! Thank you for these two summer reading suggestions by Larson. Love the idea of picking up a “page-turner.” Hope you and yours are well too! Bonnie

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