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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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« Wherein my son goes to camp and I become a recluse | Main | Unexpected »
Sunday
Jun302013

May I Gently Suggest: Summer Reading Edition 

What shall I read this summer, Ms. Bradley?

I’m glad you asked, finally. Here’s what, for starters:




"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" is a very, very funny book. I can think of few books that are as purely fun as this. It is also completely absurd, so don't read this if you need everything to make sense. But if you’re willing to suspend your disbelief and you enjoy experiencing emotions like “laugh” and “fun,” pick this up. Maybe you have an upcoming trip and you’re anticipating turbulence, family drama, a mild case of heat rash. Well, then, this will be a welcome distraction. (Laugh’s an emotion, right? Where the corners of your mouth turn up? Look, I don’t have a PhD in feelings.)


"Life after Life" blew me away. I’ve never thought much about joining a book club, but now I want to, just so I can talk through this book with fellow readers. As soon as we’re done with our discussion I’d quit, of course. And steal the rest of the wine on my way out. Any good cheeses, if you have them. If I get caught I'd make up a story about my sick great-aunt who can only eat cheese and wine. Why won’t any of you let me in your book club?

I know, these are pretty well-known books, but they can't all be obscure. And they’re good. Anyway, I have more for you. So much more. Books you’ve never even heard of. In Finnish.

What are you reading? What aren’t you reading? What will you only read on your Kindle so that no one can see you’re reading it?  

 

Reader Comments (23)

Currently reading Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, wasn't wowed in the beginning but I've warmed up immeasurably now I'm 27% through the book. Don't you love how ereaders do that with percent read? I used to just eyeball how far I was I along in a real book (yes I did just say REAL book) and now I'm so much more accurate.
Also just finished Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane. I'm not a die hard fan girl of Gaiman's books but I must say this one was excellent. Short though. You could read it in one sitting on a beach somewhere...4 stars...
Will have to pick up Where Did You Go Bernadette? Need a good laugh..

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPamela

We just did Life After Life in our book club; in fact, it was the inaugural book of said club, and truth be told I set up the book club PURELY to discuss this book. How fantastic is it? It was recommended to be by this lady http://www.belgianwaffling.com/ who I now revere as the source of all good book recommendations. In fact I've just finished Nothing To Envy, also at her suggestion, and it is AMAZING. who'd have thought a book about life in North Korea could be so fantastic that your children would go unfed and unclothed while you muttered 'just five more minutes' from behind the glow of your kindle.... Back to Life After Life; one of the more intelligent book club members raised the interesting point that the only thing that's constant in the life is the snow. For some reason that touched me as quite profound. Mind you that could have been the effect of the many bottles of wine drunk. God, I love book club...

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterReluctant Launderer

When you do get around to recommending these Finnish books you speak of, I hope they include books by Miika Nousiainen or Tuomas Kyrö. Though I'm not entirely sure anyone who isn't Finnish could find humor in wanting to be Swedish, running, or every story begining with the line "kyllä minä mieleni niin pahoitin, kun..." (Oh I became so upset when...)

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSanna

I've read a few Kate Atkinson's but Life After Life was a different style than her usual detective novels and it was lovely. Now reading and enjoying Transatlantic by Colum McCann.

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmy B

I just finished "Lonesome Dove," and I'm currently adrift without reading material. I read "Bernadette" (possibly on your recommendation; on twitter, maybe?) a while ago. I will try to steal the kindle from my children and read "Life."

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNichole

I just finished an "Inspector Gamache" mystery on my Kindle (recommended by a Canadian friend who knew I was visiting Quebec this summer); it was fun, just a bit of fluff but thoughtful in interesting ways.

I'm finally reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. Am I the last woman on Earth to read this book? Ironically, my teaching gig means I read a lot of stuff way after everyone else has. I'm enjoying it.

I've also started the novel Red Weather by Janet McAdams and it's so good I had to put it down and digest a little. It's making me see how much detail I can go back and add into my own fiction. The visual images it's created in my head are so clear and powerful.

And I read Power, by Linda Hogan. An amazing book for the way the language creates a dream-like feeling. This annoyed me in the middle, when I wanted more action-y plot, but then I surrendered again and it was beautiful.

Thanks for the recommendations, Mrs. B.!

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren P.

I'm currently reading The Interestings. To steal a friend's Facebook status, "when does it become 'greatest book ever'". I'm only about 150 pages in so maybe it's just...slow? I recently finished What Alice Forgot and LET ME TELL YOU! ALL OF YOU! LISTEN TO ME! PUT DOWN THAT COOKIE AND LISTEN. My goodness you're rapt. Y'all. I loved that book. Yes, yes, I know it's old and perhaps I should pay closer attention when people refer books but you will not regret it. You know how you might think about characters after you've finished a book? Well, with that one, I thought about the characters when I was busy doing things that took me away from the book -- silly things like cook dinner, fold laundry, commute. And now I'm adding both of these to my library hold list. I don't read anything on the Kindle. I like an actual book, plus who cares if I'm reading about midget pony sex. Oh, wait...

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

I'm currently reading The Interestings. To steal a friend's Facebook status, "when does it become 'greatest book ever'". I'm only about 150 pages in so maybe it's just...slow? I recently finished What Alice Forgot and LET ME TELL YOU! ALL OF YOU! LISTEN TO ME! PUT DOWN THAT COOKIE AND LISTEN. My goodness you're rapt. Y'all. I loved that book. Yes, yes, I know it's old and perhaps I should pay closer attention when people refer books but you will not regret it. You know how you might think about characters after you've finished a book? Well, with that one, I thought about the characters when I was busy doing things that took me away from the book -- silly things like cook dinner, fold laundry, commute. And now I'm adding both of these to my library hold list. I don't read anything on the Kindle. I like an actual book, plus who cares if I'm reading about midget pony sex. Oh, wait...

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

Have you read Vaclav & Lena yet? I read it a bit ago and really loved how fluffy it looked and yet wasn't.

I'm nearly done with the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It's not the world's best book but it's been engaging and fun and there have been many emotions. Including laughter.

July 1, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKizz

I am right in the middle of Life After Life and am having trouble putting it down to do anything else. It's amazing.

I just finished The Dog Stars by Peter Heller, which, if you're in the mood for something post-apocalyptic is an easy read. And I'm going to be wildly self-serving and suggest my new novel (because I'm trying to get over the fear of looking rude when doing self-promotion). http://the-quiet-corner.blogspot.com/2013/06/shameless-book-plug.html

July 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKorinthia

In the middle of reading Killshot by Elmore Leonard (and, reading Elmore Leonard on your recommendation, actually). Excellent book, very chilling. I actually had to put it down last week when my husband was out of town and my refrigerator was making weird noises. Looking forward to picking it back up and finishing it this week.

July 2, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterholly c

I'm nearly finished My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus, a memoir by Kelly Barth, and it is so funny that when the poignant moments come they creep up and knock you on your a**. It is beautifully written by an author who has as much love for well-crafted prose as she does a good dirty joke. I found myself so invested in her triumphs that, while reading at the DMV, I almost started crying--and not because it was the DMV. I highly recommend.

July 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommentertL

Currently reading Wallace Stegner's "Crossing to Safety" and some short stories of Oscar Wilde, but I need something else to round out my many moods. This Bernadette of yours sounds promising.

July 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdgm

I *loved* "Bernadette" - as an ex-Seattleite it's especially good. Looking forward to reading the books recommended in the comments here as well.

July 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMK

I just posted a summer reading list - totally concur on Where'd You Go Bernadette. Life After Life is also in my queue.

I just read the new Dan Brown book which was as bad as you imagine and then a little bit worse. But still compelling! I still kept reading. I just cringed at every sentence.

You'd fit right in to my book club.

July 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKate@ Savour Fare

I haven't read fiction for a ridiculously long time. It's been this gaping wound in my life. But now the sad truth is that I cleaned out the basement and am re-reading some of the books in there. Graham Green. The Pugilist at Rest by Thom Jones. I guess I'll do this over and over--get too busy to read fiction and then drag the same books out and re-read them. As my memory slowly fades away the interval between these things can be shorter!

July 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterozma

The audiobook of Bernadette is wonderful, too. The reader does a fantastic job. I loved it. I have loved all of Kate Atkinson's other books, and Life after Life is on my list of must reads.

Have you read Rules of Civility by Amor Towles? Exquisite and delicious.

July 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJill W.

I've been reading An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. I consider myself a decent-to-good cook. Truth is, spouse does much of the cooking, but I collect cookbooks and love reading them and reading about food. Anyway, I really feel I've learned things and been inspired by her writing. On the other hand, it is a taaaaad preachy.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkiki

Thanks for the Bernadette suggestion, I really needed something funny after wallowing in the creepy-but-compelling SJ Bolton books and The Shining Girls.

July 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjanet

I loved, loved, loved, "Bernadette". I want my book club to read it, but our fearless leader is an ex-English teacher with a grudge against anything popular. We have an illicit subgroup where we talk about popular stuff like A Song of Ice and Fire. Er, illicit is probably the wrong word. I should just say alternative. Anyway, I like Kate Atkinson and I hope to read Life After Life soon.

July 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTriplezmom

Dude. I made all my money in high school and college working in bizookstizores and, uh, lizabraries so I am all over this.
1 Do the Windows Open? by Julie Hecht. If Andy Kauffman was a woman he would have written this book.
2. Light Years by James Salter-- I read this every summer and even though some people find his writing affected, it just makes me want to redecorate my home and get a new wardrobe.
3. Maggie Darling by James Kunstler-- completely ludicrous and totally sublime.
Also, during the summer everyone is contractually obligated to re-read all the works of Laurie Colwin, Elinor Lipman, and Cathleen Schine. Carry on.

July 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterE Slice

I read Bernadette last year and liked it a lot (although perhaps not quite as much as some of your other commentators), so decided to follow your recommendation on Life After Life. I'm in the middle of it now and am very glad I'm reading it. I'd be happy to join your book group, even if it's for only one book. The other things I've read lately were both obscure and not all that wonderful. What are your other suggestions?

July 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

I listened to the audio version of Where'd You Go, Bernadette. I adored it, went back to my favorite parts just to listen again. I wanted to see her 20 mile house more than anything. I think I cried over it. Someone should sketch that thing out. I am not an artist, so it won't be me.
Recently finished "The Language of Flowers" - twas good.
Thanks to Alice & other commenters for the suggestions.

July 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJenn Bo

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