Which of the thirteen (13) books I brought along with me did I wind up reading, you’re wondering? In chronological order:
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society: I actually forgot to mention this one originally, but I was near the end of the audiobook when we left, and I finished it on the first plane flight. This epistolary novel is a delight in print and on audio.
Next was Rose Under Fire, the new novel from Elizabeth Wein (author of Code Name Verity), which will be published this fall. I enjoyed it, but Code Name Verity is still my favorite of the two. Either one should satisfy teens looking for WWII historical fiction.
By that time we were in Iceland with France as the next stop, so I read The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz and – once we’d arrived in Antibes, and on the train from Antibes to Paris – Bloom’s Literary Guide to Paris by Mike Gerrard. Both of these had useful tidbits of information, such as the fact that Paris zip codes contain their arrondissement number (e.g. an address in the twelfth arrondissement would be 75012), and that you should greet store clerks, salespeople, and basically anyone else with bonjour or bonsoir without fail unless you want to appear colossally rude.
While we were in Paris I read Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman (author of one of my all-time favorite books, All My Friends Are Superheroes). Born Weird is about a family of five siblings whose grandmother gives them each a different blessing – or maybe a curse? – at birth. In order to have these “blursings” taken back, they must all gather together at her deathbed. It is quirky and whimsical in the best possible sense of those words.
It’s also a quick read. The next book I tackled was Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I found it thoroughly absorbing, though I must say that woman does not write about happy families. (I highly recommend her new novel, Life After Life.) Finally, on our last plane flight, I started Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes, which, like his previous two books, is about love, karaoke, music, memory, and life in New York and in general. If you liked his previous two novels, you’ll like this as well; it comes out August 6.
Technically, I did not read The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes while on vacation; I read it the Monday after, when I stayed home sick with a horrible sore throat/cough/cold/fever bug that I’m still trying to kick. The Shining Girls is a good read-it-all-in-one-sitting book anyway, though; it’s a fast-paced, well-written story about a time traveling serial killer and the one girl who survives – and starts hunting him. I really enjoyed it (how do you find a criminal who can time-travel, after all? Who thinks to suspect that?), though don’t expect the time-travel element to be explained.
That’s it! I’d say summer reading started off pretty well – not a dud in the bunch.