Summer Reading

Free moments for reading have become more available to me in recent months as I’ve learned to juggle my work schedule with other hobbies. It was my goal for this summer to resurrect the elementary school habit of fulfilling a summer reading list (complete with “book reports”!) and I am just about halfway to completing this self-assigned task. Today I am going to list a couple of the books that I’ve completed thus far, with reviews soon to come!

In putting this post together, I noticed a pattern in the style of books I’ve tended toward recently. I have to note, as well, that I always judge a book by it’s cover. I think cover design is an art in itself (remember, I am a graphic designer), and it is the first impression of any given book for the potential reader. I love the stamped linen covers of classics, but I also appreciate anything with a thoughtful image and an interesting font. Back to the books below: they are all a form of historical fiction with female figures as the protagonists. Two of the four are in first person narrative–a writing style to which I have not always been drawn (prefer omniscient third person). I think it must say something about my current state of mind that I am currently drawn to books where the plot aligns with the life stories of young women coming of age in a given historical period. I will write more about this in each book review, but for now here is the run-down:

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
I’ll admit, this purchase was spurred on purely by placement and the cover. It was sitting out on one of the front tables when I walked into the book store–how can you resist stopping for a quick look? The cover intrigued me, as did the title, which I recognized from the recently produced movie based upon the novel.

The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman
I purchased this one in the Chicago Midway Airport as reading for my trip Georgia for an annual family reunion. It certainly kept me occupied and was strangely appropriate–the heat of a Georgia summer somehow complimented a story set in the climes of ancient Constantinople.

Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston
This book was one of three purchased at a used book store–the Children’s Memorial Hospital White Elephant, to be exact–for $1! It is a hardcover in excellent condition, and I was so excited to have been so frugal and erudite in my purchase. I enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby in high school (which seems like a long time ago — I should probably re-read) and this title caught my attention for that reason; and for the lovely cover image.

The Birth of Venus
This is the book I have most recently completed reading. It was one of the $1 used books purchased as mentioned above. The image on the cover particularly struck a note with me and I was not disappointed by the ensuing story… The portrait turns out to be from a painting by Raphael: Detail of Saint Barbara from The Sistine Madonna (which happens to be the last Madonna that Raphael painted). Click here to see the full painting

Full reviews of each book coming soon!

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  1. Dana


    I like your cursory reviews enough to look into borrowing a couple of these from the library.

    As far as coming of age stories in a certain historical period, I am again reminded of Augusta Jane Evans's novels. She was a bestselling 19th century writer whose protaganists were strong, independent-minded women. Now, if I can just get past her flowerly style, I might learn something from her political and theological arguments.

  2. RealHousewife of Chicago

    Please, let me send you my copies to borrow! It will be like a mail-order book club. 🙂

    I will have to look into Augusta Jane Evans's books–the name rings a bell but can't think of any titles.

    I enjoy finding discount prices for books on, but there is nothing better than perusing the shelves of the used book stores for hours. It's almost better than a library… 🙂

  3. Karen Renee

    You are so much like your mom; I love it. And am totally inspired by your reading list! I have sadly done nothing of the sort lately but now I am COMMITTED to picking up Brideshead Revisited…

  4. RealHousewife of Chicago

    Eh…not sure you'll like that one. The movie was pretty good, but the worldview is a bit disappointing and cynical for my taste.

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