My {not so light} Summer Reading List

Words are my happy place. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading them, writing them or explaining them to my children; words make me happy. And, because words make me so happy, any time that I can spend reading (or writing for that matter), helps to calm me and bring me back to a place where I feel content. Summer is a great time to catch up on reading. Over the past year I have fallen out of the habit of reading on a regular basis. Life has simply gotten in the way of my favourite past time. So, this summer I have decided to re-read some of my favourite books to help rekindle the interest and passion I have for reading (not just writing). Here is a list of the five books that I’ve been making my way through so far this summer and hope to get through by September (Don’t forget the cup of tea too!):

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett — By far the longest and most in-depth on my list, The Pillars of the Earth has to be my all time very favourite book. I have read it three times (this being my fourth) since purchasing it only eight years ago. All 973 pages of it keeps me interested and swooning over the story line and rich history presented within its pages. The book is set in 12th century England and looks at the lives of several classes of people from the prior of Kingsbridge and a mason’s family to Kings and Earls. Each time I read it, I find little details about the people and places mentioned that I hadn’t noticed before.

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen — I came across this book in my local Coles where I live and was instantly intrigued. I have always loved Poe, almost as long as I have loved Shakespeare (which is pretty well since I could read). The dark tales he has weaved about love and loss have sought me out and pulled me in. The fact that Poe’s life itself is such a mystery has always intrigued me as well. Hence the reason for purchasing this book. The book was inspired by the love triangle that was Poe, his ailing child-like wife and his mysterious mistress (which history knows very little of). Lynn speculates, with education and research, of the relationship which may have given Poe what little joy he had in his life. The emotion and pull that she develops between Poe and Frances makes my body tense and desire with each rise and fall of emotion. It’s a book that I can’t put down once I start it! This will be my third time reading it in the past two years.

101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home by David Bordon and Tom Winters — I have two daughters aged 5.5 and 7. They are a constant on my mind and I live my life trying to give them a childhood that is both memorable as well as will prepare them for the rest of their lives. They are strong, independent girls who certainly know how to get the most out of life right now and I hope I can contribute to it just as much as they get older as I do now. I have skimmed through this book a few times, but have decided, with my youngest going to school in September that I want to concentrate on making the time I have with them both count just a little bit more. 101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home is a great resource to use to find meaningful things to do with your kids at all ages. There are a few that I can check off our list already such as #42 Plant a garden and tend it together and 26 Have a talk about death and heaven (a common topic in our house actually as we’ve had many loved ones and pets pass away over the last few years), but there are many more we haven’t gotten close to achieving such as #80 Dig for clams and steam them on the beach and #77 Dive with sharks - in a cage, of course - or swim with dolphins. Many of the items listed will be ones that will be ongoing for us for many years to come and I can’t wait to check off each and every one of the items on the list with my daughters

The Midnight Club by Christopher Pike — Christopher Pike is one of my guilty pleasures when it comes to reading. Many people enjoy reading romance novels, or spy novels; novels that are easy to get through, enjoyable and still have a plot. For me, when I want a book like that, I read what would fall into the young adult category. More specifically, I read Christopher Pike. He’s been writing since the ‘80’s (before I could even read!), and his books, although meant for teens, have a depth to them that I can identify with. There are several that I have read probably 50 times (The Starlight Crystal as well as The Midnight Club being two of them). Sometimes reading something I have read so many times before can actually be refreshing. I’m still using my brain and getting to read, but I don’t get frustrated or upset when my kids interrupt me 15 times during one page because: 1. I already know what is going on in the book because I have read it so many times; 2. The book isn’t as intricate as The Pillars of the Earth, needing all of my concentration to keep the dates, plots, etc. in order. The Midnight Club follows a group of teenagers in a hospice house who meet each night at midnight to tell stories to each other to help pass the time (and their pain). It is a story of people finding the acceptance that they have always been searching for just as their story is about to end. As always, in Pike style, the story is hauntingly beautiful with the ever unexpected twist.

A Little Book on the Human Shadow By Robert Bly — I am going through a bit of a darker period in my life right now and rereading this book is helping me to accept those pieces of my soul that I have, in the past, tried to shove down inside myself and hide from. It is deeply intellectual and spiritual and, out of all five books listed here, although it is the shortest at a mere 81 pages, it will take me the longest to read. I find that I read a few pages, take a few days to think about it and let the message sink in, make some notes, then read a couple more pages. Just accepting and acknowledging the state of mind and way we project that takes time to come to terms with. Enlightening and heavy, I’ve only read this book one other time since purchasing it ten years ago

Though many of these five books aren’t “light” reading in any sense of the word, I am going to reopen my love of reading and recreate an old habit of daily reading, if for nothing else but to set a good example for my own children whom I hope will become avid readers as well! As far as my progress on them, I am about 1/4 of the way through Pillars of the Earth, completely through The Midnight Club, Reading through 101 Things You Should Do Before Your Kids Leave Home almost on a daily basis with my daughters and have four pages read in A Little Book on the Human Shadow. Mrs. Poe is on my list to read this weekend while I am away, without kids! Happy Reading!

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