That darn groundhog is turning out to be persona non grata ’round here. If you are living east of the Mississippi, you are probably nursing some sore shoulders from shovelling snow and dreaming wistfully of your children ever going to school again.
We have just the thing to take the chill out of what is arguably the longest winter EVER! Here are . . .
1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Nothing warms the heart faster than a love story, and this one charmed us both. It’s a story of first love peopled with characters so real they could walk right off the page. Eleanor and Park are high schoolers the way we remember them, heck, the way we know them. Funny, sweet, vulnerable, flawed, and deeply striving for love, acceptance, and independence, they are characters to cheer for, and you will. Erin walked around like a teen in love while reading it and couldn’t stop shoving it into the hands of any unsuspecting reader she could find. Don’t let the Barnes and Noble sales rack fool you: this is not a teen romance in the same way that War and Peace is not a book that concerns Russia. It IS a 24 hour read. Tops.
Laughter is the best medicine for the winter blues and Hiassen delivers it by the pageful in not one, but two, tropical locales. The charm of this wickedly funny book starts with its cast of misfit characters including a detective demoted to “roach patrol”, a kinky coroner, a Bahamian voodoo witch, and oh yes, a monkey who was kicked off of a Johnny Depp movie. But this book is not just Saturday Night Live fluff, it is a thriller that kicks off with an arm (with a middle finger raised attitude) being reeled in on a charter fishing trip. Your funny bone will be tickled and your brain freeze thawed as you devour this mystery to its very end.
3. Prodigal Summer: A Novel by Barbara Kingsolver
Oh, Barbara Kingsolver, you complete us! We kind of love everything she writes, but this book is the one to get that pulse racing and the thermostat moving in the right direction. Three interwoven love stories fill out the deeply moving and wildly beating heart at the center of this novel. As always, Kingsolver draws you into the natural world framing the events taking place during this hot, hot summer. As you might expect, the result is less natural history course and more, well, prodigal. Bring a tall glass of cool tea to sip while reading just to bring the temperature down.
4. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Sometimes you just need a sweeping epic and Lahiri, as always, delivers. Big time. Set in India and beautifully evocative of that time and place, this book feels universal as it embraces the big themes of familial bonds, love, duty, honor, and passion. Yep, this one won’t only warm you, it will raise you up. A glorious, wonderful read any time of year, but you need this one in your life sooner rather than later, so why not just move this one up the book stack and quick.
5. Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Is there a better place to be in summer than Maine? This book practically shimmers like those longed-for golden summers. You’ll start dreaming of warmer days as you read. Rocky coasts, check. Clear cool waters, check. Dysfunctional family dynamics, now we’re talking. Sullivan creates four wonderful women to shoulder this novel and they bring the family melodrama in spades. In the idyllic family home on the Maine coast, secrets are revealed, hopes are dashed, and love marches on one summer.
If you are dreaming of summer like us, you might want to check out our:
-Erin and Ellen
By Ellen Williams Erin Dymowski