Five to Thrive: book love, June 2013

Maybe you’ve got your summer reading all lined up. Maybe you’re diving into War and Peace, again. Or, maybe you’d like some suggestions? I’ve been reading this spring, and I am happy to have read these books. I hope you like them, too.

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Tenth of December by George Saunders

 

George is at his finest here. I read one of these stories, Escape from Spiderhead, in the Best American Stories anthology, and it left me craving more. What these stories do is take your head and shake it, then put it back on someone else’s body, just for a little while. You may not know what planet you are on, or in what time period, but generally, you will learn what it’s like to be a new sort of creature. Human all the while, even when involved in some pretty nasty or hilarious shenanigans. Really, you must read this book.

 

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

 

The book jacket made me promise to not say much about this book, and I am a promise-keeper. But I will tell you that it’s a story that holds you like a Chinese finger trap. The voices of both narrators are strong and funny and the subject matter is dark, dark, and darker, but somehow there is a lot of humour in here, too. It’s beautiful and sad and you will want to tell others to read it, too. But don’t tell them much more than this.

 

The Fault in our Stars by John Green

 

This is a book I bought for my teen daughter to put under the Christmas tree. I forgot about it on my shelf until after the big day. What’s it about? she asked, distractedly, while texting five friends and watching reruns of Modern Family. Oh, about some kids with cancer, falling in love, I said. She let me read it first. Once a friend told her that it was an awesome book, she read it, too. We both couldn’t put it down. We both cried. It’s one of those books that break your heart in a good, deep way.

 

There but for the by Ali Smith

 

Oh, Ali, you make me cry, you make me laugh, you show me what goes on between people like no one else. This book jumps around like all of her books, which makes some people lose track or interest, but not me. No, wherever Ali Smith wants to take me, I will go. This one enters the situation of a man locking himself into a stranger’s guest bedroom. The people involved get their stories told. There is a very smart young girl involved and a very old woman with beautiful, mixed-up memories. There are jokes. There are characters you want to invite over for dinner.

 

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich

 

The above four are books of fiction. This one is a cookbook, of cookie recipes, exclusively. Cookies are my weakness. I have a daughter who is known as the Cupcake Queen (no, really, she runs her own business, at 13). I have a husband who loves anything I make, and who is also an insulin-dependent diabetic. That can be a good combo, when his sugar levels are too low. More often, it’s a bad combo, and I get him high. But he still eats what I bake, and takes the insulin to cover it. The cookies in this book will spike your sugar, but they will also spike your mood. The world needs more cookies. I may have found my new hymnal of cookie praise. (Although where I go most often is to www.smittenkitchen.com)