If you follow the blog, you are well aware of Project 101, which is a Weekly Library Challenge in which I share 1 book that the boys have been reading from the library that is their favorite for the week and then 1 book that I am reading. About a month ago, I shared 5 of my favorite books from the library challenge as a list of Beach Books for Mamas. The books were all very family oriented as different parents shared their parenting journeys (oh - except for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass). I loved seeing comments and responses about the books, other book suggestions as well as some good-hearted teasing that my "beach" books weren't that beach-y relative to what many people prefer. I definitely understood, as I like a page-turning novel as much as anyone else, so this week as I share some books that are on fire (for the boys and me), I will also be sharing 5 Beach Books for Mama: Take Two -- I think this list will fall more in line with the types of books people more often think of as poolside or oceanside, chilled out reading. But, first to share the fire book that the boys have been reading.
Flynn Saves the Day is a Thomas the Train book we recently checked out from the library that Wild Thing loves to read. The book tells a simple story of Percy seeing that Thomas is in trouble because of a fire, so he goes and gets Flynn the Fire Engine to help. In a week span not long ago, there were 5 wildfires in surrounding areas -- one that was actually in our very small town. When we read the book, we also discuss fire safety, and Wild Thing learns that if he sees a fire, like Percy, he needs to go and ask for help and not try to take care of the fire by himself. He is learning to stay away from fire -- something we reinforce as he joins us outside while his father prepares to grill. Teaching fire safety literally saves lives. Using books and other activities to do so helps children understand how to be safe and helps them also understand what firefighters and other community helpers do to help others. This post of of 10 Activities for Fire Prevention Week is the most popular on my blog and includes many other fire safety, fire fighter and fire truck books. No Time for Flash Cards has a wonderful, comprehensive list of 20 Books about Firefighters and Fire Trucks.
As for me, I spent this week reading about the girl who was on fire...Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. I read the trilogy and definitely think these captivating young adult novels fit perfectly as beach books. If you have seen The Hunger Games movie and liked it, you will definitely appreciate the book as you get more details about the characters and the world of Panem. The overall story told through the three books engages readers through the political element as the districts struggle against Panem and through the love triangle between Katniss (our heroine), Peeta and Gale. In the end, part of me felt let down by how quickly things wrapped up, and I wasn't quite ready to let go of the characters, particularly I wanted to see more of Gale's life. Still, as beach books go, I am happy to have this trilogy on the list.
I love books that are page turners and for me, the best page turners are mysteries/detective fiction and two of my favorite writers in the genre are Raymond Chandler and Sara Paretsky. Raymond Chandler is one of the most-well detective writers and Philip Marlowe has become one of the most famous private detectives in fiction or on the screen, even played by Humphrey Bogart. The Long Goodbye is the most critically acclaimed of his novels, but it all started with The Big Sleep. I enjoyed reading both. So, pick up either if you are new to Chandler and want to give his engaging mysteries a try. The Big Sleep was published in 1939 and Bogart starred as Marlowe in the 1946 film based on the book. I have not seen it, but may have to track a copy down and check it out. I also love the way the book takes me back in time letting me experience the grimy underworld and corruption of the 1940s.
I stumbled upon Sara Paretsky many, many years ago. Her detective fiction features a female protagonist, the gritty V.I. Warshawski, a Chicago-based private investigator with blue-collar roots and a distrust for those in power. Her detective work often lands her on the wrong side of those in power. Too often, it seems she will not survive, but of course she does. This is what makes great crime fiction -- a leading character who uses their brains, brawn and skills to keep finding ways to survive and to wriggle their way out of danger. Before I had children, I could read one of her novels in one sitting, maybe two. The action keeps the pages turning and Paretsky provides many additional recurring characters for readers to love. You can start with Indemnity, her first novel featuring Warshawski. Though one of my more recent favorites is Body Work.
Now for some beach books in a different vein, in case crime novels/detective fiction is not your thing. Romance novels and travel fiction are also great options for poolside/seaside reading. Of course, that must mean it's time for some Jane Austen! Pride and Prejudice was recommended by a blog reader after my last Beach Book post, and I definitely agree. I have read all of Jane Austen's novels more than once. For me, re-reading an Austen novel is like catching up with an old friend that I have not seen in years but those years never matter, you pick right up where you last left off. There is something comforting about re-reading books like this. In fact, Sense and Sensibility was the first book I shared as part of Project 101. I think the appeal of Austen books (particularly for women) lies not only in the romance, but also in the strong female leads that Austen provides, women who often defy their times. As a pianist, I always enjoy that aspect of the books as well and get inspired to sit down and do some more piano playing myself after reading one of her books.
Do you have a favorite Jane Austen book? Is their an author or book that you love to re-read?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert walks the line of, in some ways, being a romance novel, but is definitely a wonderful piece of travel writing. As someone who loves to travel and prioritized overseas travel before I had children, I loved going on Gilbert's journey with her and recalling many of my own travel adventures. I love seeing the ways that travel helped her find herself and the life lessons she shares. Reading the book always gives me the travel bug and leads me to daydream of another trip abroad, though I have no idea when that might be!
Do you have a favorite travel book? I just got 4 from the library and can't wait to get started on reading them. Expect to see more travel books featured as part of Project 101 over the coming weeks.
The last book on my Beach Book list is the only book I have not read and that is truly on my summer reading list as I have had numerous friends read it and recommend it. I have read both of Khaled Hosseini's previous novels: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns and both drew me in completely, and also broke my heart, so I expect that And The Mountains Echoed will be no different, so if you are looking for an upbeat, light and happy novel, I suspect this is not the novel for you. However, I also expect this latest novel from Hosseini to be beautifully written and to tell a moving story. I love stories that touch my heart and open my eyes to the world around me, and this is what Hosseini does so well. Hosseini is a New York Times Bestselling author, so apparently I am not the only one drawn in by his heartfelt stories and beautifully written prose.
Have you read And The Mountains Echoed? If so, please share your thoughts (but no spoilers).
Now for the big question, how did I do with this beach book list? Better? What's on your summer reading list? Do you have a favorite beach book? I'd love to add it to my list!
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