The Sunday Salon: Quietude, and the July Reading List

Oh my, the house is quiet.

Connor and Brian reading (july 2013)For the past two weeks we’ve been reveling in a visit from our son, daughter-in-law and 19 month old grandson. But now they’ve headed back to the extreme heat in their hometown near Dallas, and we are left to bask in the cool breezes of  our near-perfect Michigan summer.  We’ve traded our grandson’s precious babbling for the symphony of bird song, accompanied by the rustling of leaves and the mongolian tones of our backyard chimes.

July is historically my busiest reading month. Looking back over the past 10 July’s in my reading journal, I’ve routinely records 10 and 11 books read during this long summer month.

This year totaled only 7  (but then I’m not counting the dozen or so books I read to Connor during the time he was here. And re-read. And read again.)

Here are three of the highlights of my July reading:

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer: This novel was bound to appeal to me, as it featured a group of young people who meet in the 70’s at an arts camp and become friends for life. Their relationships criss cross in unusual ways throughout the intervening decades. Wolitzer writes of the foibles and concerns of my generation, and she does it superbly.

Tomorrow There Will be Apricots, by Jessica Sofer: This beautiful debut novel is the story of two women in New York, a widow and an almost-oprhan, each seeking love and connection, using their common love of food to bring them together. Sofer writes with elegant detail about our relationships with family  – the one we are born to and the one we find for ourselves.

One and Only, by Lauren Sandler: Billed as a “humorous, tough-minded, and honest case for being and having an only child,” Sandler’s book appealed to me on several fronts. Because I am not only an only child myself, but also the daughter, wife, and mother of other “singletons” (the new terminology), I naturally have a vested interest in the subject. Sandler, an only child now raising an only child of her own, is almost rabid in her defense of the one-child family.  She makes her case using more sociological and psychological research than personal examples – this is not a memoir, although her own experience informs her interest in the subject.  As a “mature” only child, one who has been caring for elderly parents for the past two decades, and now facing the perils of old age looming on my own horizon, I would have been interested to see some discussion of how singletons in my demographic are handling their status. Overall, the book was well written and researched, and inspired me to thoughtfully consider my own feelings about this very current subject.

All month long, I’ve been listening to Tumbleweed, by Leila Meacham, a real pot-boiler of a novel about a triumvirate of friends growing up in the Texas panhandle (circa mid 1980’s to the present). I LOVE lisetning to these kinds of books – love the long story, the plot twists and turns, the relationship arcs. Impeccably read by Angele Masters, it’s the kind of novel that so completely engrosses me I sometimes forget where I’m driving (and they talk about cell phones being distracting!)

So far this August, I’m completely engrossed in Sight Reading, a novel by Daphne Kalotay (author of Russian Winter). This is another guaranteed “like” for me, since the main characters are professional musicians. Kalotay has done a marvelous job of research with this novel, as she explores the complex relationships between couples and their work.

How did July shape up in your reading life?

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7 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Quietude, and the July Reading List

  1. Your reading lists always inform mine, and I love that. As an early Gen-Xer, I’m sort of between your generation and your son’s, and I read across the generational lines, as you know.

    Right now, I’m reading Michael Perry’s latest, VISITING TOM, which is a book-length essay about rural Wisconsin life.

    The book about only children sounds like something I’d love. Also THE INTERESTINGS (great title!) The advantage of having minimal paid work right now? Guilt-free reading binges!!!

  2. I have Roses & Tumbleweeds in hardcover on my shelf waiting to be read. I might want to listen to the audio version of Tumbleweeds since you love the narrator. I know that Coleen Marlo narrates Roses, wonder if she’s as good? I love audio’s, but am picky when it comes to narrators.
    Here’s My Sunday Post

  3. I am currently reading Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luexenberg. It is the true story of a man who finds out his Mother had a sister that he and his siblings never knew about. His Aunt had actually been admitted into Eloise (“Asylum for the Insane”) at age 21 and never released. She died at age 53. The story deals with mental illness, stigma, disability and family secrets in the early to mid 1900’s. The history and stories about Eloise, Detroit, family values and secrets is really interesting. It is the Michigan Humanities Council Book of the Year.

  4. Right now, I’m deep into exploration of two brand new books on wildflowers. To paraphrase the old joke about the phone book, there’s not much of a plot, but the cast of characters is superb.

    I don’t think I’ll read the book about only children, even though I am one. I’m rather tired of people coming up with new words (singleton? really?) or getting incensed about old words (Seattle bans “brown bag” as a term for sack lunches because of the racial overtones – give me a break). If folks want to keep doing such silly things, they’re welcome to it, but I’ll not be buying in. We’ve already lost too many good words, and I, for one, intend to swim against the tide. 😉

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