Summer Reading

Midnight in Peking:How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
by Paul French
Found this one from an NPR reading list. Set in 1930's China, it's a sort of police procedural/mystery novel/historical non-fiction about the mostly British expat community living in Peking. Kind of dark and noir-ish, (some violence in description of the crime) it is an interesting glimpse into a time and place that I knew very little about. Couldn't put it down, read it all in one sitting.

Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World
by Catherin E. McKinley
Picked this one up on a whim in an airport bookstore, of all places, but really enjoyed it. It's a combination historical research/memoir/travelogue, recounting an African-American young woman's Fulbright research scholarship trip through various West African nations as she traces the history and modern day culture of the indigo trade routes- the growing/making/dying, as well as the fabric trade/colonialism/history that developed along with it. It's kind of slow paced and rambling, but also fascinating as she talks about women's cultural roles in the making, designing, and selling of cloth and clothing- as art. Thought all the folks who enjoy quilting and sewing would find it interesting. It has a memoir/anecdotal tone, not a scholarly one.

The Summer We Read Gatsby
by Danielle Ganek
Initially I selected this book just because I loved the title. The first time I read it, I hated it - not sure why. I think I wanted it to be more lyrical and deep. Once I accepted it as "chick lit" and a totally fun, non-serious beachy sort of read, I re-read it and loved it. It's a coming of age story, romance, and mystery all in one. The characters grew on me and I think I'm going to make it a tradition to read it, every summer, just for fun. Puts me in a summer-y mood. Also, acceptable for the school library - no sex or violence.

Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother and Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey, and France
by Sue Monk Kidd
Read this to fuel my wanderlust; it was an interesting book with alternating perspectives in alternating chapters- the mother, the daughter, back and forth as they each experience the places they go with their varied perspectives. Non-fiction travelogue woven with personal memoir/internal thinking, quite different from her other work (The Secret Life of Bees, etc).

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