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It’s summer and the reading should be easy!

Most of us in the book business get a really great daily newsletter called Shelf Awareness. A part I particularly enjoy is a column called Deeper Understanding by Robert Gray. Last week his column was about summer reading and how important it is for all of us to have just the right book for our summer vacation – even booksellers.

He writes, “Once upon a time I was a slow reader, in the best sense of the concept. I lingered over pages, paragraphs and sentences.” When he became a bookseller he had to “learn how to read faster without sacrificing concentration, comprehension and pleasure”. Like Robert, I, too “have three, four or five books going at once, and continue to cast my eyes with longing at the endless stream of new, tempting titles that come across my desk.” Having previously confessed to not finishing everything I start, I, like Robert, don’t “like this feeding frenzy mentality, but it’s what we work with in our profession. We’re expected to know a little something about a lot of books; a little more about several key books; and a lot about a chosen few. We do our best to oblige.” He’s right – that’s how we help you find the perfect book whatever the season.

But, I want that perfect summer read, too – something to totally take me away. You’d think with all the books that surround me, that would be easy right? Wrong! It can make it even more difficult to choose! But so far this summer I’ve read three books that have hit the nail right on the head.

How? I got recommendations from the fabulous booksellers at Island Books, that’s how!

More often than not I read different books than Pat, Molly and Jenny – not because our tastes differ that much but because there are so many new books coming in every day and this way we can cover more territory. We talk about what we’ve each read and can then help you all find just the right book. But, like I said, sometimes I want that perfect book that I just know is going to take me away . . .

Pat read The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman and made it sound so great I had to dive in. She was right. Goodman easily combines the stories of two sisters with high-tech IPOs, environmentalists, foodies, books and booklovers plus three love stories in an engrossing novel that captures the quirks of human nature. Wonderfully satisfying! (The Dial Press $26.00)

I don’t read a lot of mysteries but when Molly told me about The Scent of Lightning and Rain by Nancy Pickard I had to give it a try. Set in Kansas on a cattle ranch, the town’s most influential family suffered a great tragedy 20 years ago with the murder of two family members. But life went on as the mystery had been solved long ago – or was it? At times sultry and slow but always filled with tension, Pickard keeps the surprises coming. A beautifully written and carefully crafted novel that I could not put down. (Ballantine Books $25.00)

And, last but not least, this past holiday weekend I read The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst after Pat raved about it. It was great! I couldn’t put it down and didn’t want it to end! Successful literary author Octavia Frost has just submitted her most revolutionary manuscript to date – one in which she rewrites the endings to all of her previous novels when she learns that her estranged son Milo stands accused of murdering his girl friend. As Milo’s story unfolds, these last chapters and their revisions are interspersed throughout the book revealing much of Octavia’s and Milo’s past together. It is a wonderfully “complex Russian doll of a novel” that kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. I loved it! (Doubleday $25.95)

So, if you’re looking for that perfect summer read – you know where to come and who to ask! And, if you have a great read you’d like to share with us please leave a comment.

Happy reading! – Judy

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