Jenny Anne Mannan

American Songstress

Summer Reading

My summer reading list often turns into a wish list. Sometimes I hear myself saying things like, "I just don't have time to read," or "I'm too tired to read." But I burn with shame and remorse to confess that Caleb and I have succumbed to a wicked addiction to "The Bachelorette", and I can't honestly say I don't have time to read when I do carve out time to rubberneck myself silly watching this train wreck of a love story. (I really hope she picks Jef. Oh that's not a typo. That's how he spells his name. Jef with one f. I like him a lot. And Emily seems so happy with him, and I think he would be a good dad to Rickie.) Judge and roll your eyes all you want, it's good old fashioned American reality tv at its best. Anyway, the point is, anyone who makes time to watch reality tv most certainly cannot claim she's too busy or tired to read. The question is when to make it happen? I keep imagining a sunny afternoon, blanket spread in the backyard, happy, distant hum of kids splashing in the sprinkler, iced coffee or cocktail in one hand, book in the other. And let the mirthless laughter commence. It's not totally beyond the realm of possibility that Jupiter will be in its 7th house and the Big Dipper will be at its zenith while 5 wolves howl 3 times each and there will be at least 15 minutes together with not a single disturbance in the Force and I'll be able to jump into my aforementioned daydream, is it? 

I think it's like everything else in life. I find time for the things that are important to me, and try to let the rest go.

As far as reading materials go, I am always on the hunt for a good summer mystery. Something along the lines of The Mysterious Benedict Society, but maybe a slightly more grownup version. Last summer I tried The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which was not what I meant at all. Can anyone write thrilling stories that aren't chock full of the grotesque and morbid? I'm not even moralizing here, I just think it's lazy storytelling. I mean, if we use our imaginations we can find lots of mystery and intrigue without a single person being naked or violated or murdered. Grownup mysteries almost always begin and end in a dank basement with the upstandingest character in the story turning out to be depraved beyond all reckoning, with a few twists and turns along the way, and come to a shocking conclusion when the very flawed protagonist exposes or maybe accidentally kills said villain and then goes on to suffer from crippling PTSD while trying to forget, but finally finds redemption 30 years after fact when in an act of great heroism he writes his memoir. Apparently my standards are very high - and I might add, consistent. A girl who only elevates her mind with quality entertainment like "The Bachelorette" has to be picky about what she reads, too.

Anyway, this summer I've got a great reading list, and I'm having trouble deciding which book to pick up first.

1. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo

My sister-in-law and I decided to read this before the release of the much anticipated film (this fall?), because we can't very well see the movie having never read the book. When I started the first chapter, I realized I have in fact read this book before, but I was undoubtedly much to young to appreciate the rich nuances of this classic. I can't wait to read it as an adult.

 

 

2. Chinaberry Sidewalks, Rodney Crowell

Untitled

A gift from my stepdad and inscribed by the author (!!!), I could tell within the first few sentences that this is going to be one of my favorites. After all, Mr. Crowell is one of my favorite songwriters. I have high hopes for his memoir.

 

3. The Picture of Dorian Grey, Oscar Wilde

Last winter Caleb and I happened to catch the 1945 film starring George Sanders and Angela Landsbury based on this book, and it was riveting. We immediately bought the book, and it's been waiting faithfully ever since. The preface alone is thrillingly brilliant: "We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless."

 

4. Lit, Mary Karr

I first heard of Mary Karr in a Rodney Crowell song, actually. "Earthbound", from the record Fate's Right Hand:

Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, Mary Karr

Walter Kronkite, Seamus Haney, Ringo Starr

The Dalai Lama, Charlie Brown

Make me want to stick around...

Earthbound.

Clever, clever clever.

Ms. Karr's writing is beautiful and witty and honest and so distinctly American.

 

5. Little House On The Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder

My kids and I are making our way through the Little House series together, and it's a rarity for me to make it through a chapter without Violet asking, "Are you CRYING? AGAIN?" I am overjoyed to share these wonderful adventures with my kids.

 

6. Give Them Grace, Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessic Thompson

I've only read the foreword, but I am looking forward to the rest.

So that's a pretty good list, right? I'll let you know how it goes. Please don't make fun of me if all my lofty intentions only amount to half of a memoir and a few desperate searches through the parenting book for hope and encouragement. I hope for better things, but I also like to be realistic.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to make sure the DVR is set to record "The Bachelorette: The Men Tell All."

PS, What are you reading this summer?

 

 

Copyright 2016, Jenny Anne Mannan. All rights reserved.