Five great summer reads to add to your list

blogger reading a book

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been breezing through books these past few months like the warm summer winds gusting across the lake. Chalk it up to the summer of Covid. Here are my recommendations to add to your summer reading list:

  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. There’s a reason why this novel has been on the bestseller list for the last 32 weeks. It is the story of a young girl who grows up in the marshes of South Carolina who faces prejudice and accusations of murder. Gripping, insightful and a beautiful portrait of our natural world, it will leave you breathless. The first 30-40 pages may make you wonder what everyone is raving about, but don’t give up. You’ll soon be unable to put it down.
  • Fifteen Dogs by Canadian Andre Alexis. Two Greek Gods walk into the Wheatsheaf Tavern in Toronto and make a bet—what would happen if dogs were given human intelligence? The result is a bizarre and thought-provoking journey into the human psyche, as told through the lives of dogs.
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak: This story of a young girl in Nazi Germany who survives and perseveres by stealing books is a beautiful tale.
  • The Wonder by Emma Donoghue: A young English nurse is brought to Ireland to watch over a young girl who hasn’t eaten in four months, a modern miracle. A fascinating story by the author of Room.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: A riveting novel about a young woman who embroils herself in the lives of the people she watches during her daily commuter train ride.

This week’s #HappyAct is to enjoy one of these great reads. What’s on your summer reading list? Leave a comment–I’m looking for recommendations!

Fifty shades of happy

This weekend is Valentine’s Day. It’s also the opening of Fifty Shades of Grey, the much anticipated screen version of E. L. James novel.

Some of my daughter’s friends read my blog, so bear with me as I indulge in a little wordplay to keep today’s blog G-rated. Today, we’re going to talk about developing your musical talents.

My journey into Fifty Shades of Grey started with disdain. I had heard the book was poorly written and just one musical scene after another, so I had no interest in reading it.

Then one cottage weekend I got curious. I watched as all my friends, even the guys were seduced under its covers. One by one they picked it up, ran their fingers over the pages, and became breathless as they read it in earnest. Hmmm, time to see what all the fuss was about.

I have to admit, I was surprised. I fell in love with all three books and not for the reasons you are probably thinking.

Sure the musical scenes were fun, a bit repetitive maybe, but what I found really interesting about the books were they tapped into a fundamental conflict of women in today’s society. As young women we are taught Victorian values of chasteness and purity. As human beings, we are creatures of desire, passion, and love. To me, the brilliance of James’ novel is her portrayal of the struggle of the main character as she disputes Victorian values and embraces her musical talents while seeking to understand her own limits and desires.

I’d also like to say a few words in James’ defence on the writing. Personally, I think the books are well written. Any writer that is able to lure you into their world and keep you hostage there so you are compelled to keep reading the next chapter or page in my mind is a good writer. The characters are also interesting and if you had kept reading, there’s intrigue and action with helicopter crashes, car chases, and more. I also think it’s brilliant how James finished her third novel.

Say what you might, it’s hard to argue with success. More than $100 million in book sales and the 56 million YouTube views and counting for the movie trailer.

Love or hate it, this week’s #HappyAct is to tie a few shades on: read the book, go see the movie (although I hear some of the initial reviews panned it) or create your own fifty shades of happy this Valentine’s Day weekend by spicing it up with your partner. May you make beautiful music together.