August Summer Reading
I love talking about books! Here is a list of what I read in August: four good ones, and one stinker. What books have you read lately?
The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A who-done-it set in Nantucket.
Who is the perfect couple, anyway? Is it the soon-to-be bride and groom, Celeste and Benji? Or could it be Benji’s parents, Greer and Tag? Just so you know, his mom is Greer and his dad is Tag. Their names are perfect. Can’t you picture them already? Wealthy from both family money and career success. Good looking. Owners of a breathtaking compound on Nantucket Bay. Planning the wedding of the year! Everything is going to be just perfect!
Except, of course, it isn’t. On the morning of the wedding, the maid of honor, Merritt, is found floating in the water, dead. And so the investigation begins. It turns out that everyone has a secret. Hilderbrand takes us back in time to fill us in on the character’s backstories, but she keeps the suspense and action happening at a good clip. What starts as a possible cliché becomes a very good novel.
The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another good summer read. Identical twins Tabitha and Harper haven’t spoken to each other in years. One lives on Nantucket with their mother, the other on Martha’s Vineyard with their father. The two may look exactly alike, but they are very different. Tabitha is successful, Harper is a mess. Tabitha is raising a daughter, Harper has a dog. Tabitha is responsible, Harper gets in trouble over and over.
When their father dies, events begin unfolding that draw the sisters back together again. And in a weird Parent-Trap-Like twist, they actually switch places. Harper goes to Nantucket to help with Tabitha’s daughter, Ainsley. Tabitha goes to Martha’s Vineyard to fix up their father’s old house. It sounds corny–identical twins switch places! But it works.
The most enjoyable parts, for me, were hearing Hilderbrand’s descriptions of their mother’s designer clothing line, the ESF, for Eleanor Roxie-Frost. I’d love to get my hands on one of those “original” and “timeless” designs: the Roxie!
From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Oh, to be young again, in your early 20’s, full of energy, and working for the Obama Administration! Beck Dorey-Stein manages to land a job as a White House stenographer, a lowly typist as far as the office hierarchy goes, but still an exciting job that takes her all over the country and around the world. I like her descriptions of the workers behind the scenes: the advance teams that arrive weeks ahead of the president to secure the locations, the press pool, the flight attendants on Air Force One, the secret service, and much more. I am amazed at how many people it takes to set up events, from a brief press conference to a trip to Mexico for the G-20 summit.
However, Dorey-Stein also includes details (almost TMI) about her love life. I think the book would be too dry without her personal story, but good grief. Many times I wanted to smack her upside the head with her microphone. I hope by now she has put down the Cape Codders (vodka and cranberry juice, I assume?) and grown a backbone.
But overall I really enjoyed this book. Like I said at the beginning, it would be fun to be young again and have the energy for such a demanding job, especially for the privilege of working for President Obama.
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002 by David Sedaris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the introduction, David Sedaris writes about his process for writing journal entries. He “look[s] for the most meaningful moment in the previous day, the one in which I felt truly present.” I love that idea. It inspires me to do a better job with writing in my own journals: look for the most meaningful moment. Look for the moment in which you feel truly present.
Of course if you are David Sedaris, you are able to take the most mundane moments and make them hilarious or poignant, and sometimes both. His eye for detail is what makes this so interesting. Eating dinner at the IHOP may sound boring, but can turn into a fascinating encounter between a drunk and Mary, the waitress who loves to throw people out. If you chance to pass him on the street and ask to bum a cigarette, he just might remember everything about you: what you wore, your hair, your attitude. He also turns the spotlight on himself, writing about his drug and alcohol use, his family, his struggle to find a job, and so forth. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to read his excerpts from the next 16 years.
The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Y’all, Bill Clinton wrote a book! And the main character is… a president! With rugged good looks. And a wife conveniently dead (though he mourns her, oh dear reader, he mourns her!). Oh, and a daughter. And a staff made up of mostly women. But wait! His presidency is interrupted by “Dark Ages” or something—a secret code word that spells disaster, not just for the country, but the whole world! Why, it is even causing the lights at the White House to flicker on and off!
Our president takes his rugged good looks on a secret mission. But because he is such a great guy, and a military veteran to boot, he takes time out of his secret mission to befriend a homeless vet! He even stands in line at some food establishment to buy this homeless vet a hot meal. Wipe the tears from your eyes, my friends. The secret mission can wait. The president must be a hero first.
Yeah, not long after that I turned it off. I tried to listen to this on Audible. The cheesy plot was corny enough, but hearing Dennis Quaid’s gravely voice was too much. Not worth your time, unless you want to hate-read.