Summer Reading 2017

Need a good read to round out your summer?  Here’s my list (so far):

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman

This one has been in my Kindle queue for such a long time.  Not sure why I hesitated to jump in.  First off, I absolutely love deep, invested character development.  Think: Olive Kittridge or The Mayfairs.  This did not disappoint.  The man, Ove, and his neighbors are real, gritty, flawed and wonderful.

The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware

Strange story, this one.  Left me thinking, Ya right.  I can suspend belief as well as the next guy but this was a hurried wrap up that left me feeling let down.  Such a good start too.

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

I think Kindle suggested this one to me.  Score!  Another example of stellar character development.  And an historic time and place that I know little about.  Epic feeling despite being situated in a hotel for the duration of the story.  Very satisfying.

Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Instead of struggling to keep all the characters straight, I just went with it, allowing the flow of the story to carry me.  It worked.  From the start to today.  From Africa and back again.  I’m glad I chose this tale.

Britt-Marie was Here, Fredrik Backman

Had to go back for more!  After telling a friend how much I enjoyed A Man Called Ove, she recommended Britt-Marie.  Wow.  Even better!  Britt-Marie, like Ove, is surrounded by memorable people.  But such distinct stories, I may try on another Backman book before summer’s end.

The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead

A recommendation from a friend, “You must read it.  We can’t avoid it because it’s hard.”  Very true.  And I’m thankful I heeded her advice.  I absolutely devoured this one.  And the hard parts, the cruel parts were written concisely, with a hint rather than a heavy hand.  Effective.  Almost more so in this way.

The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee

A story of a unique voice, opera, and manipulation.  Fun is not the word.  Compelling, complicated and interesting.  Past and present collide along with memories and objects.  A good summer choice for diversion and intrigue.

The Orphan’s Tale, Pam Jenoff

A circus story.  A story of German occupation.  A story of hiding.  A story of love.  I think Kindle said, “For people who liked Water for Elephants.”  Not sure other than circus is the common thread.  Not as satisfying as I’d hoped.  A quick read.

Rules of Civility, Amor Towles

So if I like a book well enough, I’ll take the author up again on another title.  Just like A Gentleman in Moscow, this was AWESOME!  Not only is character is gift but sense of place as well.  Two days… that good.  I may try another Towles.

Hope your summer reading is as satisfying as mine.  Notice no work related reading?  Take this summer off.  Don’t worry, I’ve got a stack waiting for me but not until school starts again.  I promised myself I’d take this summer totally off.  Haven’t done that before.  Works for me.  What should I read next?

The Teen Years & Summer Fun

Summer break with a 13 and 15 year old.  Where to begin?

I’m not a mom that LOVED the baby stage or toddler years.  Every stage had it’s special moments, memories and milestones but I don’t ever WISH to be back in any of them.  At this point I can say I prefer relating to my sons over caring for them (as I did when they were little boys).  Our conversations, their connections, the ah-ha moments of adolescence are awesome.  Truly developing into adults, citizens of the world, opinion holders and discussion participants.  I love this time.

So what with this budding independence comes the push and pull of summer.  We’ve never been big on scheduling our kids summer time.  One, maybe two day camps in their lifetimes.  Our summer days are best spent hatching a plan the night before or morning of.  What do you feel like doing today?

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Post-Conservatory Pic

Until now.  The teen years have brought nesting, hiding out, hermit-like qualities.  I don’t care for it.  So the prompt has shifted to So today we’re going to either do A or B.  Which do you prefer?

So far so good.

Example 1: So today we’re going to the Conservatory of Flowers or the Beach.  Which do you prefer?  The Q & A begins.  What will we do at the Beach?  How long will we be there?  What’s a Conservatory?  Is Japantown nearby?  Ok, let’s go there.  Decision based on lunch options.  These are definitely my children.

Example 2: So today we’re going to walk the Golden Gate Bridge or head to the Beach.  Which do you prefer?  Same kind of Q & A.  Breakfast was negotiated into the beach trip.  And the drive to Doran only resulted in 4 identifiable road kill specimens (the record is 14).

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Frisbee at Doran Beach

And so it goes.  I love this time I get to spend with my kids.  Quality time, laughing, learning, settling arguments, getting slow and steady peeks into what they love, what they believe and who they are.

Each of them keep track of the time.  Jacob likes to get to baseball practice 30 minutes early, and Joshua has reading to do for his World History class.  Both of their evening commitments build in a need for downtime without their mom pestering.

Oh, and chores.  A reality of life at Casa Haugen.  On the mornings I go into work, the list is longer but when we have a plan for our day, we cut back on chores.  It works.

So this approach to our summer days works.  It’s a nice ebb and flow that makes my heart happy.