2016 Summer Reading List: What Have You Been Reading?

I’m in a great reading year and 2016’s summer reading list has been full of new books. Living close to a library and forcing myself (lately) to sleep with a book is helping. I’m also learning how authors use form and structure, so I read to get inspired and absorb a little more. Yesterday, we met up with my husband’s friends and talked about how just anyone can be a famous writer now. While that’s true and may impact quality, I actually think we will chose what we like. Loosening barriers in a tough market is a good thing. Every story deserves a compassionate ear. (Even if it’s just your mom reading.)

Side Note: Previously in 2016 -> More Books. I used to have a small handwritten list of books when I was in high school at the back of my homework diary. I lost the list but I wish I had kept it. So now, I decided to use the blog to post these for posterity. 

2016 Summer Reading List What Have You Been Reading

Handmade version of Edward Gorey’s illustration in Three Ladies Besides the Sea

I’ve been reading Indian writers in newspapers these days (being so far away now). They write convoluted sentences which last the distance between Delhi and Jaipur. I am reminded of my own writing which suffered from long sentences with a big word in between. I wish more modern writers wrote crisp and didn’t use words that came out of dictionaries, because those are distracting to the reader and for the plot. Writing in simple, evocative language is hard. And I wish more of us made the effort. That’s made a difference between why I like some books more than others.

Here’s my 2016 Summer List. Tell me what you’ve been reading?

2016 Summer Reading List

Books in red are for children (varying ages), so if you’re an adult into only adult books skip to the darker black titles instead.

1. The Big Sister, Sally Rippin

It’s a delightful little children’s book and I loved the illustrations. It touches some real parenting and growing up themes. I read it for the illustrations and was not disappointed. I am not sure at what age a child needs to read this, but I liked the aftertaste of this book.

2. Yasmin’s Hammer, Ann Malaspina

I think every child should read this. It’s a story of such immense values and allows you to empathize and see a new perspective. A lot of books talking about third world countries often sound like poverty porn but this one has such a pure soul. The illustrations are spot on and detailed. I absolutely enjoyed it!

3. Snow, Cynthia Rylant

I love snow. A book about snow illustrated so beautifully was just lovely. I was left with all sort of ideas to draw and picture snow and icicles and all that comes in between.

4. Winter’s Coming: A story of seasonal change, Jan Thornhill

It’s the story of winter through a little furry animal. It reminded me of this beautiful story we read a lot time ago in school called “aasman gira”. I can’t recall who wrote that one, but I’m eager to find that out too. Really nice illustrations on this one!

5. Me, Frida, Amy Novesky

This is a great story/ chapter from Frida Kahlo’s visit to the United States and her defining moments before she decided to embark upon the journey of an artist. (All this in the shadow of her established artist husband.) Very much the diet, when you’re raising a feminist child (Yes!).

6. 999 Frogs Wake Up, Ken Kimura

I like children’s books even if they tell me the things I don’t need to know as an adult. But this one was a tad boring even for my liking. So, I’d probably skip a re-read. Just the story could have been so much more interesting.

7. Puffin Peter, Petr Horacek

It has a Finding Nemo kind of a feel to it. The illustrations are good and overall I did enjoy it a lot. It works on the classical against all odds themes and works well in toto. I liked the colorful illustrations and the backgrounds.

8. Life in the Ocean: The story of Silvia Earle, Claire Nivola

This is Claire’s second book for me, and I enjoyed the details and story of someone I didn’t know of before. I’m afraid of putting my head under water and to read the story of someone who has seen the depths of the oceans in such great detail was inspiring. It was also so amazing to read through how someone like Silvia Earle found her calling (a theme I find infinitely interesting). The images are amazing!

9. Emma’s poem: the voice of the Statue of Liberty, Linda Glaser

What a cool story! I am new to the United States and not necessarily well versed with the history of the place. It was so interesting to read through the story and the poetry behind such an important hallmark of America. Very much the need in today’s politicized times. And very, very thought through illustrations. I loved this book. So inspiring!

10. The Silent Witness: a true story of the Civil War, Robin Friedman

Again a lesson in American history told in illustrations and through the eyes of a little doll. Very little snapshot of history and just the value Robin places on sharing a little forgotten part of history. Engaging and fun.

11. The Flag Maker, Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Historical references to America’s freedom movement and the history of its little flag makers. Love the context, settings and the emotions behind what it could mean to sew history. Wonderful illustrations!

12. Content Rules, Ann Handley

I’ve talked about this before. It was OK. After having read Everybody Writes, this didn’t impress me that much. If I don’t feel like writing a blog post on a book, it’s usually not touched me enough. This is one of those. But it’s also because, now I am more advanced as a reader of the content marketing topic, and therefore, I already knew or had read about most things the book said. Good for a newbie!

13. The Big Book of the 70s, Various artists

If you ever were a GK nerd or an information junkie, or in love with the 70s (and Vinyl) THIS is your book. I don’t often claim that I know much about the pop culture in the US, but this book is the bible on the topic (for the 70s). It’s extremely well illustrated and so well researched. Oh, and this isn’t a children’s book but a graphic novel for adults. I loved it and am ready to read it again. I wish they did these books for all decades!

14. Relish: My life in the kitchen, Lucy Knisley

Again, a graphic novel for adults. I want to write like Lucy Knisley and draw like her too. It deeply spoke to me, even though I had nothing in common with her life. But it’s a book that takes you in and wants you to make food with hands, even if you’re not a foodie. Loved it!

15. Lost in NYC: A subway adventure, Nadja Spiegelman

It’s interesting and has great illustrations. But I didn’t feel emotionally attached to anything in the book. So, I’d probably pass it the next time.

16. Three Ladies Besides the Sea, Rhoda Levine

Illustrations by Edward Gorey breathe life into anything, including this book. I loved the little mystery but honestly, I was smitten by the drawings. (I drew my own cover version of my favorite illustration too!)

17. Tumble Bunnies, Kathryn Lasky

I liked it. Again a great parenting or teaching lesson but so many profound things told in such a great way. A good read for kids too. I wish I had read more of these books growing up! The illustrations are fun.

18. Nipper of Drayton Hall, Amey Lewis

I looked at the paintings/ illustrations for hours (not kidding) and enjoyed them. The story of a little dog in a historical settings is exactly why I think each story is important and significant, if told the right way. I’d definitely go through it again at will 🙂

19. Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

I wrote about it here. If you write, or plan to write ever, this is the first book to pick up. It’s so detailed and helpful. And it knows the issues you’re facing as a writer. I recommend this book to anyone interesting in learning the craft.

20. Creative Confidence, David & Tom Kelley

You already know how I loved it from my last post. For anyone interesting in knowing how to build creativity in work or art, this is a great book of ideas and thoughtfulness. I loved it.

21. The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp

I’ve been reading this book at an unusually fast pace and I’ve finished it in three days. This is definitely something you want to read to internalize your own habits and build an appetite for lifelong creativity. I enjoyed it and it was also a quick read! My favorite part was about questions you ask yourself and what that reveals about your unique creative DNA. Keep a notebook by the side, as you work on this book.

22. Into thin Air, Jon Krakauer

It’s a good book to read, especially if you don’t read this first as a part of your school curriculum. I overanalyzed large parts of this book in my MBA course and therefore it was a little wasted on me. Books need fresh perspectives and attention. Sadly, I did not have it. I need to come back to this book after a few years with fresh eyes.

23. Born to Run, Christopher McDougall

If you needed to know why Milind Soman runs with bare feet, this is your book. I read it with great interest, considering I’m a non runner and was pulled over in school for running like a “duck.” I enjoyed it, especially to break the myths of modern running and allowing joy to be a guide to move forward with things.

Phew, now that close to 33 books in the year so far, averaging ~4 books a month. Not bad, right? Listing helps me stay inspired.

And then:

Currently reading: Family planning, Dreaming in Hindi, Turner House, A bad day for sorry
Could not finishRunaway (stories) by Alice Munro- I know she’s so celebrated but the stories required me to spend too much time in understanding what was happening. The plots are convoluted. As you’ve probably figured, I read a few things at a time and just didn’t have the mental bandwidth for this book. I need to come back to it when I am on vacation and have a thousand spare hours.

Tell me your reading plans for the summer? What should I read next? 🙂