Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Books

Summer Books

In the world of quizzes and personality tests, there is one question that is purported to reveal volumes, or pages at least, about someone:  “Beatles or Rolling Stones?”  I suppose if one answers "Beatles" one is considered more sensitive and artistic and if the answer is “Stones” one is more likely to be recalcitrant and rebellious.  Total rubbish, I know, but fun to talk about. The Songwriter would be squarely in The Beatles camp, as he’s been a lifelong devotee, but he’s almost equally a fan of the Rolling Stones, so when we were in London last month he was delighted to see that a new Rolling Stones Retrospective had just opened at the Saatchi Gallery just around the corner from our beloved hotel, The Draycott.  Of course he was going. 
Now as for me, I can sing along to You Can’t Always Get What You Want with the best of them, but as it happens, my favorite bookshop in the entire world, John Sandoe Books, is also located just around the corner from our hotel.  There was no question which one I was going to choose.  So we kissed farewell on the corner and the Songwriter turned left while I turned right and we both headed off, grinning, to our respective destinations with a meet up time scheduled for two hours later.  
Two hours.  
Two fat hours to spend in John Sandoe Books. 
Bliss.  Heaven.  
And hardly enough time! 
  (You can see my sack full of treasures in the photo below.)

Since I’ve been home I’ve been very busy with writing projects.  I’m trying to finish a huge knitted shawl as a gift for a Scottish friend.  I’m putting together the neighborhood home tour.  But the weather is getting warm and let’s face it… there’s nothing much sweeter than sitting barefoot on the screened porch, underneath a softly twirling ceiling fan, with a glass of sparkling water at my elbow and a big juicy book in my lap.  Yes, it’s time for Summer Reading, which is, in my opinion, one of the primary reasons God invented summer in the first place.  

Here is a list of the books currently in my summer stack,
 or on my shopping list. Just click on the photos to see more.
As always, do share some of yours.
Happy Summer!
(Painting above by Charlie Mackesey)

The King Who Made Paper Flowers
by Terry Kay

The Course of Love
by Alain de Botton

Paradise Lodge
by Nina Stibbe

The Summer Before the War
by Helen Simonson

Everyone Brave is Forgiven
by Chris Cleave

Summer Evening 
by Walter de la Mare

by Annie Proulx

The Last Painting of Sara De Vos
by Dominic Smith

The Violet Hour
by Katie Roiphe

The Echoing Green
Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses

The Old Ways
by Robert Macfarlane

In The Footsteps of Sheep
Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, 
Walking, Spinning and Knitting Socks

by Debbie Zawinski

East of Eden
by John Steinbeck


  1. Having just finished "When Breath becomes air", "The Violet Hour" seems like a logical follow up. Just got "A Trick of the Light" by Louise Penny from the local library. Enjoying reading on our patio but could really use a screened porch here in the Midwest. Need a good knitting project to start and must finish my granddaughter's crocheted coverlet. All the best!

  2. I always wondered what the Beatles or Stones meant. It is definitely Stones for me. You have a wonderful summer too. I have four books to read then will be searching for more. I have hit a few runs of late. For a while, I was having a hard time finishing any.

  3. I bought The Summer Before the War, and It seems to me that summer would be just the right time to read it, along with the nonfiction The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson which I also own. My shelves are full of books just waiting for me!

  4. Since I was a fan of Major Pettigrew, The Summer Before the War would be high on my list. I read East of Eden in my much younger days, but have never forgotten it. John Steinbeck is one of my all-time favorites. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild is turning out to be a great read, and I may follow it up with another book by same author called The Baroness, which is a biography about a rebellious and eccentric member of the uber-wealthy Rothschild clan, Great Aunt Nica, who discovered jazz, abandoned her family and took up with Thelonious Monk, and lived with and took care of him (and other jazz musicians) for the remainder of his life. Thanks for another great reading list!

  5. I just started reading Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it's very fun.
    I love your lists (always) and find something to read from them each time you post a list. I also love it when you list children's books. I have 2 grandchildren and they have loved your selections.

  6. On my last trip to London, I had to buy an additional piece of luggage for all the books I was buying, and insisted on it being a carry-on. My daughter was not a happy camper, barely able to look in my direction as we struggled with our luggage, which was made even more challenging by the suitcase filled with books. "I know this is horrible and we are exhausted", I said, "but in twenty-four hours this will all be a memory and we will have these wonderful books to last a lifetime!"

  7. I loved both The Beatles and The Stones but The Beatles were top of my list and I saw them twice. I think that I know the words to every one of their songs .... as soon as they brought out a new single or album, my friend and I used to record them on a reel to reel tape and kept stopping and starting it to learn the words !! .... we were devoted Beatles fans !
    A lovely choice of books and I will be sure to purchase many of them. Your photograph of the book shop looks like a modern version of the film ' 84 Charing Cross Road ' !!! XXXX

  8. So glad you had a good trip to London! -and came away with fabulous book purchases - and wonderful suggestions.
    I did not know Alain de Botton had a new book. He is so bright and clear a writer. Walter de la Mare is most underestimated. (Have you ever read his poem "The Feckless Sinner Party"? chilling indeed. He is very good at the world of Faerie...Warmest wishes to all of you.
    We are all a bit shaken here by poor Buster's death. Thank you again for your kind words.

    ps. So glad the Songwriter got to the Stones show!

    Oh, and I finally did get to go to Charleston -and wandered in Lewes.

  9. Glad you enjoyed the UK Pamela.
    I admire your book choice - am familiar with the Robert Macfarlane and with the Steinbeck of course.
    (I think my favourite of his is 'Travels with Charley'.

  10. What a great story to introduce your Summer reading list Pamela. I have visited my lovely local bookstore to purchase 3 of your recommendations. My reading list is not quite a summer one as we have just moved into winter in Sydney but I am loving Rebecca, Daphne de Maurier, and about to read The Enchanted April, Quartet in Autumn, The Goldfinch, Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin, The Cellist of Sarajevo, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and from the lovely James Rebanks (who I met at the Sydney Writers Festival) The Shepherd's Life (which was recommended by you earlier). Happy reading xxx Lisa

  11. Sorry, I forgot to add a couple of great summer reads - Island Home by Australian author Tim Winton. A very elegant writer whose book evokes our Australian summers of the 60's by the beach and the importance of land and place to Australians - stunning. Island Summer by Tilly Culme-Seymour for a wonderful tale of Norwegian summers on a little, private island and for a travel tale like no other, Patrick Leigh Fermor's walk across Europe in A Time of Gifts. Lisa

  12. Thanks for the share! Looks like some great summer reads!

  13. Definitely the Beatles. Paul McCartney's English Tea is a favorite. He said he had been challenged to use the word peradventure in one of his songs and English Tea was the outcome.

    I read everything of Steinbeck's I could get my hands on when I was younger. I re-read East of Eden a couple of years ago. While it is, of course, very well written, it left me unsatisfied. I suppose it is because we change as we grow older and things impress us differently than they did when we were younger. I re-read The Moon is Down and still love it.

    All the Light We Cannot See is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a while, but it, too, felt a little flat at the end. I tend to re-write the endings I don't like the way I wish they would have ended. I remember doing that to Gone With the Wind one summer when I was in college. Of course, with my endings, they probably would not have become best sellers.

    I bought Hawk in London last June and am reading it now. It is also beautifully written.

  14. After giving up on waiting for a copy from the library, I caved and bought 'The Summer Before the War' and will start as soon as I finish my current read. Since downsizing, I rarely buy books, as I have a rented storage unit full of them and no space in the cabin. There's a group read on Bookstagram going on for 'East of Eden' but too busy to join the party. Do you follow Jo Rodgers on Instagram? She posts some lovely shots of John Sandoe Books. I'm definitely a Beatles girl, though enjoy the Stones as well. Happy reading!

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  16. Another wonderful list to work through Pamela.
    Loved The Old Ways..........beautiful
    Anita xx

  17. Another wonderful list to work through Pamela.
    Loved The Old Ways..........beautiful
    Anita xx

  18. Yeah! I always look forward to your summer book list. It's been a crazy busy couple of weeks which must explain why I haven't visited earlier. You have such delightfully eclectic reading tastes. Happy reading and good luck with your writing projects!


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