My Bodice Ripping Love Affair (with summer reading)

Still Life: Teenager With Book

Summer ended today as the last of my four sons surrendered his Xbox controller, packed up his summer reading files, and entered Middle School peacefully.  Structure, discipline, and progress for all.  But before completely buttoning up starry nights and car trips, I want to confess my summer reading affairs and relive the attribute that made me fall in love each time.   

And then I will move on. 

While adjusting to the freedom of no homework and children who sleep all morning, I had a fling with literature.  The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman was indeed original, perspective-altering, and a teensy bit heartbreaking for an old-fashioned reader like me.  (Italy was great).  Walks With Men by Ann Beattie was edgy for my appetite, but her photo-realistic characters taught me things a writer can use.  Solar by Ian McEwan was way better than the NYTBR led me to expect, the potato chip scene alone was worth the read.              

While children were away at camp, I slipped off to Nagasaki for a week with David Mitchell and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, 800 pages of action and adventure with a Dutch Trading Company official in the year 1799.  This novel was recommended by my aunt who maintains 18 unread books on her Kindle, a good summer reading safety margin in my opinion.  

Husband slept in my reading light while I indulged in romance:  Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian–WWII with a Russian twist, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, a Young Adult writer to watch, and Dracula, My Love by Syrie James, who writes like a native of the 19th century, a book that goes both ways: romance with a Romantic hero.  Which leads me to Young Romantics by Daisy Hay, non-fiction I read for research, but include here because it was just so good.  Keats, Shelley, and Byron’s 1814 summer of love: mad, bad, and dangerous to know.                    

But the dalliance that most often made me sneak away, stay up late, and decline the society of real people was the Stieg Larsson trilogy:  The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.  I fell in love with Sweden, protagonist Mikael Blomkvist, and the gripping story that fulfilled all my summer reading desires.  

Goodbye novels.  We’ll always have the summer of 2010.

(Which books carried you away this summer?  I will be taking confession in the comment section of this blog). 


Filed under Book Review, Cindy Jones, Living in a novel, teenagers, The art of writing...

19 responses to “My Bodice Ripping Love Affair (with summer reading)

  1. Those don’t sound like bodice rippers to me! (For very refined taste perhaps some might be bodice looseners?). Something by Amanda Quick, Susan Wiggs (or my latest fave romance author) Lisa Kleypass — now THAT’S a bodice ripper! 😉
    I didn’t have much time for summer reading but I bought a lovely little hardcover, gold-edged, illustrated version of Cranford in a Waterstone’s bookstore in England. Presently I am enjoying Wives and Daughters. Can you tell I`m on a E. Gaskell kick? 🙂
    Seriously, your book choices sound lovely, and I will have to look some of them up at the library soon!

    • Bodice looseners, I like that. Can you tell me which Gaskell to start with? I’ve never read her books.

      • Well…the whole reason I have discovered the blog world is because of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South which was made into a miniseries by the BBC in 2004 starring Richard Armitage and Danielle Denby-Ashe.
        So…my suggestion would be to watch the miniseries first, because it did take a couple of liberties with the story (to their credit — they didn’t do any damage the the integrity of the story), but if I had read the book first, it might have bothered me more.
        Having said that… the other two books I mentioned are really excellent. They also have been produced as miniseries by the BBC. Besides those, I have read a collection of her short stories called Cousin Phillis which is excellent if you are short for time.
        See my post on Gaskell for more information, if you like.

  2. Debby

    Confession. No books even thought about ripping my bodice this summer. Bummer. I barely got through my must-read-for-work magazines. I dream of a time when I can focus on fiction. I know the time will come. I downloaded one book to the Kindle I got for a birthday gift two years ago–just to see if I could do it. That book sits there, unpowered, waiting for the paperbacks I bought in a moment of optimism to have their time under the light. But your reviews are inspiring. Maybe some day will come sooner than I think.

    • You deserve your own personal fiction festival after living through that summer of tough stuff. I hope it comes sooner than you think, too. Good that you know how to operate the Kindle, a bodice ripper if ever there was one.

  3. Bondi

    I’ve also fallen in love with Sweden and Blomvist but have yet to read his final book. I’m anxiously hoping to fall off the library’s long wait list or for the paperback version to hit the shelves. Just finished The Art of Racing in the Rain. Wonderful book as told by a Golden Retriever. Not good, however if you just lost your dog of 13 years so grab some tissues. Now moving on to The Crisis of Islam Holy War and Unholy Terror. Definitely not light reading….Love your reviews Cindy

    • I’m jealous that you have the last S. Larsson still to come. I’m interested in the Art of Racing in the Rain but I think I’ll wait for your review on The Crisis of Islam Holy War…

  4. Pat Shriver

    I read a lot of books this past summer. I started by reading the last 3 novels of Sara Donati’s Wilderness series about the early years of NY state from the French and Indian War thru the War of 1812. The series begins w/ Into the Wilderness.

    I tried Sharon Shinn’s Archangel trilogy, which I found very engaging. The world she created was fascinating but the romance was rather predictable.

    I read 2 of Diana Gabaldon’s Lord John novels – kinda “bodice rippers” for gay men. She writes the best sex scenes (straight or gay) EVER! Lord John is good but I wish that she would get back to the Outlander story. Gabaldon is my favorite novelist! Waiting for her next book is torture.

    I also read Loving Frank and The Women about Frank Lloyd Wright’s personal life. He was an intriguing person w/ a “truth is stranger than fiction” history.

    I’m reading a non-fiction book right now called The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. When I finish this deeply disturbing investigative report, I’ll reward myself w/ the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson.

  5. Peggy Richardson

    Alan Furst, Spies of the Balkans (everything he writes is fascinating)
    I liked the Steig Larsson trilogy although it messed up my good impression of Sweden. I have never seen an author produce such a myriad of avenues for a successful resolution.
    Karin Fosum, The Indian Bride. This one broke my heart but patched it up again. Very interesting take on police work and the lack of complete resolution.

    • My Dear Aunt-of-the-18-book-margin-in-her- Kindle,
      The Indian Bride sounds like something that would make me forget to fetch my boys from school. Thank you for mentioning the myriad of avenues in the Steig Larsson books. I think that is what made them so satisfying to me–no rushing into resolution.

  6. Leslie

    Enjoyed this post, the still life, and your book reviews! As you know, I primarily read non-fiction so my summer reading started with The Forgotten Man (history/economics of the great depression) by Amity Shlaes. After that I got on a Michael Pollan kick and enjoyed Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, and Second Nature. Then I read Blood Sugar 101 by Jenny Ruhl. Now I’m getting started on the AP/USH text by Paul Johnson (that should keep me out of trouble for a while). I know, not exactly bodice ripping, but that’s okay – I prefer the real thing to reading about it 🙂

    • Father and son are both reading Paul Johnson at our house. AP/USH is keeping a lot of people off the streets this semester! And you parents will make for good study buddies! My book club read Omnivore’s Dilemna a while back–a good change of pace for me.

  7. kim

    I have read two of Stig Larrson’s books. Both are good! I’ll pick up the third soon.

    Hope to join your book club fellow JASNA member of DFW. 🙂

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