Summer Book List: Reading Roundup
Ah, is there anything more delightful than summer reading? I know most people like to post a summer book list for you to gather before the season and read throughout the summer… but around here we’re not that organized! Instead, we’ve compiled a list of the books that we actually got around to reading and loved this summer. But all of these will make great fall reads too! With that, here are the books we stashed in our beach bags or devoured by the side of the pool in those fringe hours that we mamas savor.
Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France is part childhood memoir, part history of Fontainebleau palace (think a château along the lines of Versailles). The author’s father, an air force officer, was assigned to the château in the 50s when it was used as NATO headquarters. It was a fascinating read about post-WWII Europe through the eyes of a military kid, and Francophiles will find his childhood recollections of French public school entertaining. Between reading this and Four Princes (see below), Melissa feels prepped for her France trip, but it’s a charming read even if you’re not going to France. (5 stars ~Michelle)
Four Princes: Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman the Magnificent and the Obsessions that Forged Modern Europe is an intriguing look at four towering monarchs that ruled (and fought, and skirmished, and betrayed. . .) over Europe during the same time period. I tend to forget that the borders and cultures of Europe did not reach their modern forms until recently; so much territory was fought over and changed hands numerous times. Each of these kings shaped the course of history in various ways. This book illuminates the politics, religion, and power struggles of the time that have echoed for centuries. Barbarossa the pirate, popes, the Reformation, and assassins — what more drama could you ask for? (5 stars! ~Melissa)
The Piano Shop on the Left Bank was Thad Carhart’s first book and a NYT best seller. After telling her how much I enjoyed Finding Fontainebleau, Melissa recommended this book, and as per usual, her recommendation was spot on. You hear more about the author’s childhood (French piano lessons) co-mingled with the story of how he bought a piano and resumed lessons as an adult living in France. Light reading at its finest. (4 stars~Michelle) (Melissa’s note: For anyone who loves piano, it will remind you of why you love the instrument. A must-read for pianists.)
Atomic Habits was a book that sneaked up on me. My initial impression was that it was an easy self-help sort of read that had some good points, but nothing groundbreaking. However, somehow its premises started marinating and seeping into the way I approached things, and the book has indeed helped me start some better habits. The two most helpful points for me were habit-stacking (attaching a new habit to an existing one), and the concept of being a doer of a given activity on a regular basis rather than striving for mastery of it. Worth your time to glean some inspiration for making lasting changes! (4 stars ~Melissa)
The Story of Art is a probably not book that would normally show up on summer book list, and I (Melissa) have only just started reading it, but in light of how much I’m already enjoying it I thought it deserved to be mentioned. (It’s been a best-seller since the 1940s, so I’m hardly alone in my opinion!) This book is an overview of how and why art changed over the centuries and with civilizations, why certain features came to be, and how they’re important. Better yet, it’s filled with plenty of pictures to illustrate his points. I’m loving it! I wished that I had read it sooner so that I understood more of what I was seeing at say, the Louvre, but am hoping it will make future museum trips that much more meaningful. Fun fact: Michelle told me that this is the same author of A Little History of the World! He has an accessible manner of writing that makes the arc of the narrative easy to follow. (in progress, no stars yet!)
In the realm of fact-that-reads-like-fiction, The Greatest Missions of the Israeli Secret Service: Mossad seems more like a movie script than military history. (And I’m now fairly certain that Daniel Silva just rewrites Mossad history a little for his Gabriel Allon books. Not that I blame him one bit. 😉 Stories of derring-do, cunning, and bravery abound, making for the perfect book on your summer read list for an exciting beach read. It seriously does not seem like these could be true stories! (4+ stars ~Melissa)
Any book recommendations for us? Despite appearances, nonfiction and fiction recs are welcomed. 😉 In fact, we’d really really like some good fiction to read!