Are you looking for the perfect “summer read?” Do you dream of getting lost in a book with ocean waves crashing in the background? Whether or not you actually go on vacation, you can always escape reality with a good book!
I love audio books, too! I keep one going all the time. I listen in my car when I travel and and run errands. I listen on my smart phone while cooking supper or walking. I find I can walk longer when I”m listening to a good book! Check your library, or Google “Audible Free Trial” and download your first audio book for free!
I”d like to share some of my recent reads across diverse genres. Here are 14 Books to consider for 2014–in no particular order:
1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. This is a Pulitzer prize winner and worthy of your time! I did not know that, when it was first recommended to me. Several people mentioned the book in a short span of time, so I took the recommendations, and ordered The Goldfinch! I”m glad I did not read the reviews. There are too many spoilers in the online summaries! I didn”t know ahead of time what was going to happen. It made the book that much better. Here is all you really need to know: There is an explosion at New York”s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Strangers” lives intersect because of that event, and people are irrevocably changed because of a painting of a Goldfinch. It is thought provoking. You are introduced to the consequences of very diverse scenarios, including: children with uninvolved or absent parents, mental illness, the Russian mafia, and antique furniture dealers. This is one of those books that will keep you thinking about the characters for weeks afterward. The subject matter is a little heavy, but there are redeeming traits in many of the characters. The Goldfinch makes you think about things you”ve probably never considered. I had to re-start it 3 or 4 times to get past the first few pages. After that, I couldn”t put it down.
2. Divergent (and the two other books in the Trilogy: Insurgent and Allegiant) by Veronica Roth. I have not seen the movie, but I think this dystopian book series is every bit as good as the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is a pretty fast read. “Something” happened that caused society as we know it to come to a halt and reorganize. At the age of 16, everyone is forced to choose which one character trait, out of five possibilities, by which they wish to live the rest of their lives. They can choose the “faction” they were born into, or leave their families and choose a different faction representing a different character trait. What if you don”t really fit into any of the factions? Being different is dangerous. You won”t be able to stop after the first book!
3. Sycamore Row by John Grisham. Jake Brigance is back. This Mississippi lawyer, in the fictional town of Clanton, receives a letter that threatens to rock race relations and scandalize the town. Why would a wealthy white businessman in Mississippi, who is dying of cancer in the late 1980″s, decide to give most of his fortune to his black housekeeper who has only worked for him for 3 years? This legal thriller is full of twists and turns that will keep you thirsty for more. (Side note: John Grisham has built a beach house in my hometown of Fernandina Beach. Fernandina has had a book festival for the last few years. Fernandina also has Shrimp and Chamber Music Festivals. It is a GREAT place to visit!)
4. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo. This is a true story about a little boy”s journey to heaven and back during an almost-fatal illness. Over time, Colton Burpo”s parents realized that Colton suddenly knew things about people and events which he had never been told, and would have no way of knowing. Over the next few years, Colton shared more and more of his heavenly experiences. The revelations about heaven, and those whom Colton saw there, as experienced from a child”s perspective, inspire hope and wonder.
5. Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson. This is the story of a young boy from inner city Detroit, who became the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. Carson”s mother, armed with only a third-grade education, did everything in her power to foster learning and support the education of her children. Carson overcomes poor grades and a bad temper and begins to devour books and enjoy learning. I first read this about 10 years ago when my son was assigned the book for a school project. This book is relevant because Dr. Ben Carson is currently in the news for speaking out on conservative issues, and is considering a run for President.
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This book is classified as Young Adult Fiction, but it appeals to adults as well. It is the story of Hazel Grace, a teen cancer victim who is depressed. She goes to cancer support group with other teen cancer patients and finds herself interested in Augustus. This difficult subject is handled realistically, with finesse. You will be pulling for Hazel and Augustus to realize their dream of a special trip.
7. The Invention of Wings by Sue Kidd. This is a poignant story of the horrors of slavery in Charleston, South Carolina during the early 1800″s. When Sarah Grimke turned 11, her parents gave her a ten-year-old slave girl named Hetty. This book follows Sarah”s and Hetty”s unusual friendship into middle-age. Sue Kidd covers a difficult subject with sensitively and painful online casino attention to detail.
8. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. Jodi Picoult is a master of dealing with difficult subjects in interesting and realistic ways, which leave you examining your moral compass. A young reclusive baker befriends an elderly customer who shares a shameful secret regarding the Holocaust. The haunting descriptions of Auschwitz are both terrible and powerful. You”ll want to know what happens to these characters and how the story plays out.
9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is another book whose characters will tickle your mind long after you finish the book! This one is “creepier remembering” than the aforementioned “The Goldfinch,” though. If you like sort of scary books, in a domestic violence sort of scary way, this one will knock your socks off. There are twists and turns that you WILL NOT anticipate! I GUARANTEE you WILL keep thinking about this story!
10. The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. A typical Nicholas Sparks romance. You know what kind of tear-jerking plots to expect from him! I don”t want to give away anything. Not really a favorite, but a solid summer read.
11. Cross Roads by William Young. This book is by the author who wrote The Shack. It”s the story of a “self-made” man who suffers a cerebral hemorrhage. He becomes “conscious” of things, and begins to see scenarios that are similar to his “real life,” without really regaining consciousness. He is able to literally see through the eyes and experiences of others, and gain the possibility of redemption from the mess he has made of his life. This is a thought provoking book. It offers an interesting perspective on what life might be like for those suffering from dementia.
12. One Second After by William Fortschen. THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS! It makes you realize how much we take for granted, and how quickly things could change. It may also inspire you to become a little more self-sufficient. The book is set near Asheville, NC., in Montreat. “One Second After” an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) wipes out all electronics, the US is immediately thrown back into the Middle Ages. All vehicles with electronic ignitions stop. There is no power and no communication. Grocery stores are looted and food and medicine shortages begin to kick in. Anyone relying on medicine or medical equipment to keep them alive is out of luck. Desperation and hunger begin to take their toll on the population. Thugs and gangs begin to intimidate and dominate. Disease and outbreaks of food poisoning further decimate the population. This book is a fascinating look at what COULD happen with any major disaster–natural or man-made. This is a GREAT audio book! My husband and I enjoyed listening to this book together, while traveling.
13. The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy. I will confess that I have not yet finished this one, but I love everything by Pat Conroy. I”ve downloaded it for Kindle, and have it on my phone! This is the story of Pat Conroy”s real life father, Don, whom he wrote about as “Santini.” This career military man abused his wife and children for years. Finally, the family was fractured, seemingly beyond repair. During his father”s last years, Pat Conroy and his Dad reach some form of reconciliation. Blood is thicker than water, and as Conroy says in The Prince of Tides, “In families there are no crimes beyond forgiveness.”
14. The Holy Bible. I am currently reading through the Bible in a Year. The link is for the Bible I am reading. Or, here is a link to a daily Bible reading plan for you to use with your favorite Bible translation. Start now, and by this time next year you will have accomplished reading through the entire Bible! I have done this several times and always find new insights and greater understanding. Here is a link to my blog post about how I was inspired to begin reading through the Bible.
Let me know what you think, and please share your favorites–for me to add to my reading list!
DISCLAIMER: I am including Amazon and Audible links to make it easy for you to find the books on my list. Should you choose to buy something using these links, I may make a few cents.by