June 15, 2016
Tea or coffee? I detest both, so I’ll take a hot chocolate. Summer= Beach days and beach days = uninterrupted hours of reading. I’m a book addict. When I’m away on vacation at the beach, I read a book a day. My taste in literature is eclectic and really only has one requirement: be interesting. Here’s my personal list of interesting reads for those lovely beach days.
- The Odd Women by George Gissing: Written ahead of its time in 1893, The Odd Women tells the story of Virginia and Alice Madden, who are ‘odd women’ destined to a fate of spinsterhood. Their fathers dies, leaving them to a life of poverty; not to mention, their youngest sister Monica, desperate to escape destitution, is trapped in a loveless marriage. The novel establishes itself as a feminist novel, when the older Madden sister’s friend, Rhonda Nunn, makes them aware their oppression under the patriarchy. “Gissing’s depiction of the daring feminist Rhoda Nunn is an unflinching portrayal of one woman’s struggle to reconcile her own desires with her deepest principles”. Gissing’s novel is brilliantly written and truly is a literary classic.
- How to Be an American Housewife By Margaret Dilloway: This quick read is great novel debut. At the end of WWII, a young Japanese woman, Shoko, marries an American GI. She leaves Japan with her parent’s blessing, “her brothers scorn and a gift from her betrothed- a book titled How to be a Housewife”. After years in America, Shoko wants to return to Japan to make peace with her ill brother. Unable to go, she sends her ‘Americanized’ daughter in her place.This debut novel shows the differences between cultures and ” healing power of familial love”.
- Little Women By Louisa May Alcott: This classic novel needs not an introduction. The story of coming of age and four sisters is a must read. I really could write five pages of a description, so I’ll sum it up in a few words: brilliance, romance, empowerment, struggle, brokenness, Laurie & Jo, and life.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot: Another New York Times Bestseller, this novel tells the TRUE story of Henrietta Lacks: doctors took her cells without permission, which sparked a medical revolution and created a multi million-dollar industry. Reading the trials and tribulations of Henrietta, as a Black woman, in the 1950s is riveting.
- The Joy Luck Club By Amy Tan: I’d call this novel a Contemporary Classic.The book goes back and forth between the stories four Chinese women in 1945 and the stories of their daughters. Tan focuses on the differences between traditional Chinese culture, experienced by the mothers, and Americanized Chinese culture, experienced by the daughters. As the Chicago Tribune wrote ” that rare, mesmerizing novel that one always seeks but seldom finds… a pure joy to read”.
- The Kitchen House By Kathleen Grissom: This New York Times Bestseller is page turner. Grissom tells the story of an orphaned Irish girl, Lavinia, who is taken in by a plantation owner and cared for by his illegitimate Black daughter, Belle. Eventually, Lavinia grows up and is assigned the job of working for the master’s mother in the big house. You see tensions arise as Lavinia attempts to balance her life between the big house and the kitchen she was raised in, because ultimately her white skin color will forever separate her from Belle.
- The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood: This is another brilliant piece of literature and frankly impossible to sum up. As concisely as I can: The Handmaid’s Tale is a riveting work where the reality is that women are slaves to Commanders. Women can no longer read, can’t work, can’t make money, and can’t have rights. Handmaids are used for their ovaries to help the declining birthrate. But, one Handmaid, Offred, is able to recall the older days. Days when she loved her husband, worked, and most of all cared for her daughter. It’s an intense read that you can’t put down.
- To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee: Who doesn’t love the classic story of Scout and Jem? Told from the perspective of young Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of Atticus Finch, a white man, boldly defending Tom Robinson, a Black man wrongfully accused of rape in 1933. The story of coming to age and the fight against racism still resonates with modern times, though published in 1960.
- The Kite Runner By Khaled Hosseini: Hosseini writes of a man named Amir who recalls his life in Afghanistan before and after the king was overthrown. This bestseller can be described as: intense, heartbreaking, struggle, and kites. Disclaimer: there are certain scenes in the novel about rape.
- The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald: This short novel needs not introduction. Fitzgerald writes of a “cast of characters living in the fictional town of West Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922”. The novel is fun, heartbreaking, exposes the superficiality of humanity, and reveals the depth of affections.