It's time for the annual summer reading poll!
Please recommend a great book to add to our summer reading lists, and tell us what fragrance we should wear while reading it.
Posted by Robin on 171 Comments
It's time for the annual summer reading poll!
Please recommend a great book to add to our summer reading lists, and tell us what fragrance we should wear while reading it.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
I recently finished two books by Judith Claire Mitchell. “A Reunion of Ghosts” is a semi-historical novel (based loosely on a real family but with some of the details changed). The main characters are three sisters living in New York City, and I’m not sure what perfumes they would wear but something strange and bleak would be appropriate for reading it. Dune, maybe, or Patchouli 24. I liked it so much I went back and read her first novel, “The Last Day of the War,” which is about Armenian immigrants to America—so definitely Bois d’Armenie for that one.
That book looks interesting, and liked the blurb description of “A literary mash-up of The Virgin Suicides and Grey Gardens”…adding to my list, thanks!
Thanks, this sounds right up my alley!
Yay! The summer reading list! And just in time–summer break begins today.
My current summer reading list consists of catching up on articles here (just getting to summer iris recommendations) and reviews for garden obelisks online. . . so I look forward to recommendations.
SOTD is Infusion d’Iris edp which I think I’m finally *getting.* I’m liking it in this already-hot summer!
Infusion d’Iris is a great summer perfume! I start craving it when the weather heats up.
I can see why! Honestly, it’s taken me a few years to mature into the more subtle fragrances. I tend to want my fragrances to announce themselves with trumpets. Or at least saxiphones. Id’I seems more like an oboe to me, though–adding body to the music but rarely given a solo.
Just finished The Expats by Chris Pavone. The lead character is a retired female CIA spy who is trying to live a normal life as a housewife and mother in Luxembourg. I think she would try to be low profile with other ladies by wearing Jo Malone Lime Basil etc but in heart she would be Habanita by Molinard. It’s a thriller full of twists and double crosses – I personally wanted her to be in Habanita and not giving a damn by the end.
I like spy thrillers in the summer, thanks!
I have this on hold at the library!
Most of my reading lately has been boring business-y books in preparation for Shoshana opening (September 5, perfume gods willing!). But I have been loving a new Marvel comic, Squirrel Girl! Hilarious writing, and a great starting point for women of any age who are interested in comics but have never felt particularly included.
SOTD is Diptyque Philosykos solid perfume. DIVINE. Just wish the beautiful compact wasn’t quite so heavy.
So excited for your shop.
So bummed I’m gonna miss your big opening! I will be in DC in July.
Philosykos is such a great summer fragrance! (Never tried to solid, though.)
Please let me know if you have any free time while you’re in DC, MR- it would be so nice to meet up!
I will let you know! Thanks!
Woo hoo on setting Soshana’s opening day. Labor Day Weekend!
Yay! Waiting with great anticipation…
Yay, so glad you have a date.
Happy Weekend Everyone! I am so happy to be back at home after being in the hospital since Wednesday. Since my recovery is 4-6 weeks and I will be at home until then, I will catch up on some reading. I am going to finish reading “The Secret of Chanel #5” by Tilar J. Mazzeo. I have a few samples of Chanel fragrances that I can wear while reading it. ( I know I have Beige and Chance for sure). I guess you could wear any of the fabulous Chanel fragrances while reading it. Right now I am on the part about how “Coco” became the iconic woman that we all know. So, wearing Coco Chanel would probably be the most appropriate during this section.
Wishing you a speedy recovery!
I know we’re supposed to be recommending books, but it’s been over a year since I’ve read anything. (And much longer since I’ve read anything worthwhile.) So instead, I’m looking for a recommendation. We are leaving next weekend to take baby Jack to visit grandma and grandpa for a whole week. With them helping to watch him,…I just may have time to read a whole book. I’m out of practice and my reading comprehension was never fantastic to begin with, so I’m looking for something super easy, breezy, even fluffy. I really don’t want to have to have to do much thinking. Past summer loves have included anything by Helen Fielding or Lauren Weisberger, and Kate White’s Bailey Weggins series (murder mysteries centered around fashion magazine offices). I realize this is vastly different from what most of you read, but does anyone have a suggestion?
Oh, and I’ll be wearing Calyx and Eau de Merveilles most of the week.
Gosh, sounds like a good opportunity to try one of Angela’s new mystery series books. Haven’t picked one up, yet (wish they were at my library!), but they’ve gotten a lot of love here. And she was aiming for fun and fluffy.
They’re excellent. Don’t know if you have a Kindle, but I think the ebook version is a little cheaper.
Great suggestion! I love her books – they’re a bit addicting.
I was going to say that! They would be perfect.
I love a series written by Kerry Greenwood set in 19th Australia. The Phryne Fisher series are mysteries, but they are full of food, fashion and fragrances. Perfect summer reading.
That is 1920s Australia. Blast automatic typing.
Never read the books, but enjoy the tv series. GREAT clothes…
Love outrageous Phryne!
Whenever someone asks me for a fun read, I always suggest The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Absolutely charming.
I second this!
Yes that was fun!
For pure fluff, try the Goldy the caterer series by Diane Mott Davidson. Goldy’s town must have more murders per capita than any other, but she solves them all while whipping up kitchen goodies (recipes included, most of them tasty and not difficult to make). The first one is called Catering to Nobody and there are at least 15 more in the series. Also, I had great fun reading Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan. Poor girl falls in love with rich guy. Much cattiness by the rich friends of the rich guy, and lots of name-brand dropping.
Seconding — the Goldy books are fun.
Nah, I read fluff all the time. There’s enough real life in real life that I like to escape with my reading (I even read a lot of young adult stuff). Have you read any Dorothy Cannell? Her mysteries are silly and fun.
I second fluff! Also, there is definitely such a thing as quality fluff as opposed to bad fluff.
Maybe along the lines of what people have already suggested, I would add books by Alexander McCall Smith, including the Ladies No.1 Detective Agency series and my favorite, the 44 Scotland Street series. The best kind of fluff!
The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series is great–so was the mini-series with Jill Scott, very faithful to the books.
Yes I binged on those books one summer a while back. I still think of the characters sometimes!
I LOVE the 44 Scotland Street Series! I hate Irene so much I would put her in a vat of Secretions Magnifique.
Hey, I love literary fiction and I love a light read, too!
I’ll second the suggestions for Angela’s colorful Joanna Hayworth mysteries and for the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which is a delight.
And I’ll add The Royal We, by Jessica Morgan and Heather Cocks. The NY Times called it “smart, funny fluff.” I called it fun.
I read The Royal We, too, and it was fun!
I want to chime in with Angela Sanders’s books which fit your request to a “t.” Also, Robert Gailbraith (AKA JK Rowlings) two Cormoran Strike mysteries are really satisfying in a long-lasting flavor sugar-free gum kind of way!
Lucy, the summer was made for light, fluffy, “candy” reading! No shame, embrace and enjoy. I recently read one called The Misfortune Cookie (which I think was #2 or 3 in a series) by Laura Resnick. Supernatural murder mystery, with a bit of a love story thrown in, and it was hysterically funny. I highly recommend it.
Wearing #5 Eau Premiere today and loving it. Here is a list of books I have read lately that were very good. All are completely different so would have to be a different scent for each one. I read a book or two a week from all genres it seems so can always find something good.
The Light Between Oceans
We Are Not Ourselves
The Paying Guests
Someone is Watching
The Good Girl
Happy reading everyone.
The second one is pretty much about my neighborhood.
Who mentioned Gone, Baby, Gone yesterday? I’d like to recommend all of Dennis Lehane’s Patrick and Angie books, starting with the first one, A Drink Before the War. In the tradition of Philip Marlowe, these are dark, gritty detective novels but extremely well-written. Angie would wear Coven, maybe. Also, I have to put in a plug for The Brothers K, by Northwest writer David James Duncan. It’s a story about a family, and baseball, oddly enough, but so much more. I recommended it to a friend a long time ago and he told me later, “I had to wait 3 hours for my rental car but I didn’t care, because I was reading The Brothers K.”
I’ve not read Lehane’s latest yet but enjoyed the first two very much.
Fascinating time period.
Mals mentioned it. I’m halfway through it on Kindle already – really good. Will have to read the others now. They certainly move along quickly, which like.
Yeah, it was me.
Lehane’s stuff is always so saturated with vivid imagery (and the plot twists! Holy cow, nobody ever twisted plot like this guy. Not even Queen Agatha), and often funny as well as heart-wrenching. There’s a paragraph in Gone Baby Gone where he’s talking about the particular kind of silence there is when a child has gone missing – it reduced me to gaspy sobs, just imagining.
Wearing Moon Bloom, thank you Robin for doing such an enthusiastic review, I love it.
Currently reading Destination Unknown by Agatha Christie. My brain needed some rest after preparing (and passing ) 6 exams.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone.
Congratulations on passing your exams!!! That is wonderful
I also love your reading choice-Agatha Christie’s mysteries really do take you to another place!
Oh, well done! Congratulations! I love Christie and her books are among my top choices for comfort reading. Or re-reading, to be precise, as I exhausted her entire bibliography a long time ago (with the exception of the romance novels she wrote under a different name and believe me, I’ve been close to ordering these, too :).
I’m so glad, and huge congrats!!
Agatha Christie is always great. I read all of her mysteries long ago and find that I can pick up one and re-read, having forgotten who-done-it.
I of course cannot limit myself to one book, so here we go:
1. Literary fiction: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This is the best thing I’ve read this year and should be universally acknowledged as an American classic. It reminds me both of Harper Lee and Neil Gaiman while not being like either of them. It’s perfectly constructed and written and while a slightly uncomfortable read, it’s also hopeful. I don’t want to talk about the plot, I cannot do it justice anyway.
2. Non-fiction: Empress Dowager Cixi by Jung Chang. Wow. What a woman, what a life. How does one manage to start as a 16-year-old concubine and come to rule China for 47 years? I also liked that the book took a more balanced view towards her as a politician and as a person than many Western historians have taken so far.
3. Fantasy: City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. If you read fantasy, you must try this. City of Stairs is a very high quality second world fantasy with an excellent understanding of politics, religion and history. On top of everything else, it has not only one, but three wonderful central female characters. They are all over 25 years old. They are not all thin.
4. Fun: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Goodman. Technically, this is also a fantasy book, but I would take the risk and recommend it to anyone who likes books, adventure stories and 19th century London. I mean, this book has not just a library and a secret organization, but A LIBRARY THAT IS A SECRET ORGANIZATION. How could anyone not like that? This is light but intelligent entertainment.
I cannot come up with one scent that would fit them all, but I’m currently wearing something like 100 prays of La Pausa and I struggle to envisage a situation where this would be a bad thing.
I’ll piggyback here.
I’m in the middle of We Have Always Lived in the Castle after you recommended it in your blog and you’re so right! It’s wonderful, and I’m riveted. Also, thank you for recommending The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer, and The Hare with Amber Eyes. Both of them are also spectacular.
I am so glad that my recommendations have worked for you
Oh my, all those books sound great and are now on my list!
If you do read them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Excited to give Ms. Jackson a try. How are her other stories?
This was my first Jackson and I’m a bit scared of the others. The Lottery is supposed to be excellent, but not pleasant.
I love We Have Always Lived in the Castle and would also recommend Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial.
Do try “Life Among the Savages” a very funny (and slightly subversive for its time) book by Jackson. You won’t believe it’s the same author.
I do not know when it will be released overseas, but To Set A Watchman is due to come out in the US in mid-July. It was the first book Harper Lee wrote, before Mockingbird, but was never published.
I think it will be out here soon, too. I’m both excited and worried, as I love Mockingbird so much…
Oh, I love We have Always Lived in the Castle and many years ago I enjoyed another book about Ci Xi (Pearl Buck’s Imperial Woman). Based on our apparent similarity in reading taste, I’m going to try City of Stairs and The Invisible Library.
As it happens, I also liked Buck’s East Wind: West Wind, although I read it a long, long time ago. If you can do fantasy (some people simply cannot), I really do recommend these two books.
I loved your summaries here, and although I don’t usually read fantasy fiction, I’m very tempted to try your recommendation.
It’s always such a perilous business, recommending books – unless you know know the person you are recommending them to really well. Fantasy is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re not totally opposed to reading some, it’s worth a try. There are lots of good things happening in the genre these days.
We Have Always Lived In The Castle is seriously creepy. But also short, and extremely well written. A fabulous summer read, and a great book in general. The others on your list sound great, right up my alley.
Another somewhat library-as-plot-and-place is the magical realist The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which was AMAZING.
Just requested this in the original Spanish, hoping to jump-start my study of the language. Thank you missionista! I love our local library.
Yes, I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind, too!
Just added “Castle” to my list. Always loved “The Lottery,” which was part of my own career awakening interest in human rights.
I’m almost certain you’ll like it …
Just finished The Lost City of Z, a true account of an early 20th century explorer who disappeared in the Amazon while searching for the legendary city of El Dorado. Great mix of history, adventure, and folklore. It’s the perfect summer read; I loved it. As far as a scent to wear with it, I’m thinking something with rich, lush tropical flowers. PdN Musc Monoi, perhaps? Or Diptyque Olene? The author writes a lot about the heat, humidity, and close press of the jungle around them, which brings to mind big, tropical white flowers.
Such a good book. How about Manoumalia to with it, since it has that big tropical flowers with a dash of rotting-in-the-sun vegetation?
I was thinking of Manoumalia for the first Mrs. Rochester in Wide Sargasso Sea.
yes, that was a good read, and Manoumalia sounds apt.
Thanks for reminding me about this one. It’s been on my to read list for so long that I’d forgotten about it if that makes any sense.
I recently read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. It’s not new, but a classic I hadn’t read yet. I think she is pretty innovative and was ahead of here time. A perfume to wear while reading it … Probably something androgynous, cool, and not frilly. Maybe Terre d’Hermes? Kyoto would also be nice.
Today I’m wearing Bois des Iles. Bought myself a bottle yesterday :). Also introduced two friends to the glory of the Chanel Les Exclusifs line.
I love Le Guin and this is one of my favourite books. I had just started university when I read it and it had a huge impact on my thinking about gender.
Zagorsk might fit, too, because of the snow?
Yes! That would be wonderful too
She is one of my all time favorite authors. I read A Wizard Of Earthsea at just the right moment, and it was a formative experience. The rest of that series is wonderful too. They are technically YA books, so can be quick reads. SO worth reading them, even as an adult.
I’ll have to read those. I plan on reading more of her this summer.
LeGuin has been one of my favorite authors for many decades – probably my favorite is “The Dispossessed” but I highly recommend them all. Encre Noir would be a good match.
Yes! Vetiver is a good match!
On my 2nd Amelia Peabody/Elizabeth Peters book, Curse of the Pharohs.
She is such a fun character and I especially enjoy her relationship with her husband. Sadly I can’t imagine her wearing a fragrance at all.. she can’t be bothered with girly things, but I certainly can and today I’m delighting in Mohur Extrait.
Excited to add some new authors to my list of books to read!
I recently finished reading “Day Shift” from a relatively new series by Charlaine Harris, author of other fantastic series — Sookie Stackhouse novels, Lily Bard Mysteries, Aurora Teagarden Mysteries, Harper Connelly series,. This new series is shelved with the Fantasy books and is set in Midnight, Texas, a quirky little town, with quirky residents who harbor secrets. Some of the characters have associations with characters in her other series. For example, the Detective Arthur Smith (minor character but worth mentioning), was in the Aurora Teagarden series and Sookie Stackhouse was mentioned several times.
I don’t have a particular perfume I would wear while reading this in warm temps, but if it were to be coolish, Profumum Ambra Aurea would be perfect.
Ooh, v exciting–I’ve just started into the first of the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels (My Beautiful Friend is Book One) and am already dying to discuss. Has anyone else read them yet? Anyone care to speculate on the author’s true identity??
Ha, wrong, it’s My Brilliant Friend. Weird mistake!!
That’s on my list for the summer too! Not having read them, I’m guessing a feminine Italian perfume would be appropriate – maybe something by Santa Maria Novella or Prada. I think the rumors that the author could be a man because women can’t be that insightful about women are incredibly sexist.
WILDLY sexist. The suggestion that women can’t even be experts on their own lives (to say nothing of everything else under the sun): gah.
I just want to know how you keep it a secret that you’re a hit novelist! Evidently she’s told journalists (in writing) that she’s a mother–do her kids, or her kids’ friends (and their parents) know? Writing takes a lot of time, what do they think she’s doing?! Do they think she’s just an eccentric spending years writing things and then putting them in a drawer?
As for fragrance, I love the SMN idea–maybe even Nostalgia, the first book at least has a character described as often smelling of shoe leather, because he’s apprenticed to learn shoe resoling. And just generally, the punch that scent packs would suit the novel’s vividness very well!
I’ve just bought it, but haven’t yet read it.
Can’t wait to hear what you think!
Just finished this and am considering recommending it to our book club. A love of learning bonds two girls growing up in a rough Naples neighborhood in the 1950s. Each girl’s intelligence and scholarship serves to spur the other. We follow them through their high school years and see the ways their brilliant minds help them and the ways they don’t.
This is a one-narrator linear timeline story, which seems to be a rarity these days. I enjoyed it very much.
I recommend The Starboard Sea. It came out in 2012 but I just read it. It’s set in a New England boarding school and the main character is a teenage boy who sails (and loves and comes of age). I’d wear Maine by MCMC or something with ambergris to invoke the sea.
I recommend The Roundhouse by Louise Erdrich. I listened to the audiobook quite a while ago, but it just came back to me in a flash. (I also loved the reading by Gary Farmer.) It has everything I want in a book: vivid characters, vivid setting, humor, emotion, suspense, ethics and politics. For me it’s a contemporary classic.
As for what to wear while reading it… something retro or vintage, masculine, outdoorsy and not too adult? The narrator is an adult in the present, telling a story that is mostly about him as a boy. He spends a lot of time on his bike.
Anybody else read it and have opinions and/or scent matches?
Haven’t gotten to this one yet, but am an Erdrich fan. Sounds like the protagonist would wear a Juniper Ridge frag (picture some of the characters from earlier books in Brut).
I’ve got some Topanga Canyon Face + Beard Oil that I will reach for when I read this book again. Thanks!
I hope you get to get to it. It’s so good. LMK if you need some oil to go with it.
I love her. Huge fan.
I read all of Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris up to the point of their divorce and all the subsequent unpleasantness…somehow was never able to read either since, although The Roundhouse did sound great, maybe I’ll pick it up.
This one is worth picking up!
I’m in the middle of Kate Atkinson’s latest, “A God in Ruins.” Has anyone here wanted to slap a fictional character upside the head? That’s what I want to do to Viola, the daughter of the protagonist. She has it coming. I think you can say an author has done a great job with characterization when a reader has such a strong reaction!
What perfume to wear with this? The novel skips around in time a lot, but I’ll go with classically English Penhaligon’s Bluebell to go with the pre-war scenes set at Fox Corner
Almost finished with another Kate Atkinson, “Life After Life,” which I think preceded “A God in Ruins” and follows some of the same characters. She is an excellent writer who doesn’t seem to hesitate to test some far-out ideas on readers (not true of every novel). Like AGIR, this one also skips around in time, generally post-WWI England. Not sure if I really enjoyed that, but her central characters and settings are vivid and often unsettling. I would choose a perfume from an old English house, traditional with an edge.
I adore Life After Life and can’t wait to get my hands on God in Ruins!
I’ve definitely wanted to slap fictional characters upside the head. Jasper Fforde riffs on this really well with his treatment of both Hamlet and Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights.
I’m looking forward to this one.
Loved Life After Life! The Teddy surprise near the end of the book was one of my favorite parts! Looking forward to A God in Ruins (they’re calling it a “companion” novel about Teddy), but haven’t got to it, yet. So many books, so little time!
As a tourist it’s very easy to see only the stunning beauty and charm of France and look past its complicated and sometimes dark past. I just finished two novels by Sebastian Faulks, “Birdsong” about the effects of World War I on French soldiers and civilians, and “The Girl at the Lion d’Or,” which takes place during the 1930s. Both are set in northern France and both are excellent, although be aware that they have very graphic and violent depictions of the war and its aftermath. Next I plan to read “Charlotte Gray”, the third in the “series,” which is about occupied France in WW II.
For light reading, one of my favorite authors is Robertson Davies, who wrote smart comic novels, often with theatrical or academic settings.
One the Chanel or Guerlain classics would be perfect for the Faulks novels–maybe Vol de Nuit or L’Heure Bleue?
I think Birdsong was a Masterpiece Classic movie, wasn’t it? Eddie Redmayne played the part of the soldier. It was very good and very sad.
Yes, I liked that one.
I’m going to recommend the same novel that inspired my sotd yesterday: Silence by Shusaku Endo. It is set in 17th century Japan during the early years of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Following the failed Shimabara Rebellion, the prohibition of Christianity is now strictly enforced. The once burgeoning Christian community on Kyushu has gone underground.
Two Portuguese Jesuits sail from Macao, planning to sneak into the country. They intend to minister to the Japanese Christians but they also want to find the truth about their favorite, old teacher who is rumored to have apostatized and taken a Japanese wife.
The title refers to the silence of God in the face of human suffering which is the major theme of the book. A film adaptation directed by Martin Scorsese is coming in 2016. I can’t wait. Apparently he’s been trying to make this film for more than twenty years. I’m excited/nervous to see what he does with it.
This sounds great!
Thanks – I’m adding it to my list!
As for what to wear, cdg Kyoto would be my first choice. Much of the story takes place in poor fishing villages and the sea figures largely in the plot so something like sel de vetiver would be another good choice.
I’ve selected Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom off of the bookshelves, since it was mentioned this week. If I’ve read any Welty, it’s been a long time–looking forward. And that’s a great Grace Kelly photo. Didn’t have the fortitude to sit through the recent tv movie about her…
She is a fantastic author; most people would consider that book to be one of her more “slight” but it’s actually amazingly layered if you spend time looking at her sources. Highly recommend her short stories, and Delta Wedding.
(And I didn’t watch the movie either)
When I was in my early teens my parents took my brother and I and my father’s parents to a play called The Robber Bridegroom. It was a sort of fairy tale where the robber stole the woman’s top, and then she fell in love with him. (In doing so, the actresses actual top went off -Something neither my brother nor I nor my grandparents had seen on stage before). Is the same tale?
Sounds similar. In the book, he takes all her clothing. In modern day terms, it would be considered “rape-y”, plus massively politically incorrect in all sorts of other ways. If you can suspend concern with all of that, it’s an interesting meditation on what things about ourselves we choose to show (or not show) to others, including people we love, and on capitalism, the “civilizing” of the US, and all sorts of other stuff. It is loosely based on the Grimm tale of the same name, plus the Cupid & Psyche myth, plus some “tall tales” / legends of the American south.
The best book I’ve read recently is Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of Europe, by William Rosen. It is non-fiction, covering my favorite period of European History–the end of the Roman Empire and the Migration Period/Dark Ages. It deals with how the occurrence of Bubonic Plague in the reign of Emperor Justinian helped lead to the rise of what we now call Europe.
I also recently read The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Quiet American (vastly different, but trying to catch up on my classics, a nevernedin project.). Both worth a read, both short, and decent summer reading, although Quiet American especially is not light reading.
The most disappointing thing I’ve read recently is a memoir/autobiography by Tom Robbins. I used to love his books, particularly Still Life With Woodpecker (which would be a great summer read), but the author came off as such a self-aggrandizing little shit in this memoir that I am retroactively disliking his books. Grrrr.
What perfume to wear with all of these? I’d go with a classic, so that it can encompass the vastly different nature of all the books. Perhaps Guerlain Vetiver? Hermes Caleche?
I agree with you regarding Tom Robbins’ memoir, “Tibetan Peach Pie.” It really irked me! I particularly hated that he addresses his mother as “Mother.” I know that’s weird, but I immediately became suspicious of my previous concept of him as a laid-back, carousing free-spirited guy. All in my head, I know.
I also read the memoir of Haruki Murakami whose work I adore, “What I talk about when I talk about running” and was similarly disillusioned.
Guess they should stick to their original genre!
I just started reading/viewing Murakami’s graphic (?) novel The Strange Library. The format makes me think of a mashup between a blog post and a first-person type video game. Pictures are interspersed with words but don’t show the characters or action. Rather, they show small details that the narrator might see, or else abstractions from the story that might reflect the narrator’s imaginings or memories. I think I’m making it sound more intriguing than it is to me, so far, but I really did just start on it.
missionista, maybe you’ll want this when I finish it? Another library story, plus we could meet at a library (or perfume shop of course) so I could pass it along to you.
@leathermountian, I’d be happy to meet up! And maybe do a book exchange?
Just emailed you.
I think the layout was the most interesting part of The Strange Library, although I did enjoy it to a certain extent. I like Murakami, but this isn’t one of his masterpieces (and probably isn’t meant to be one).
I might swear off memoir/autobiography for a while.
Justinian’s Flea sounds intriguing, late antiquity is one of my favourite periods to read about. Thank you!
How about the Pulitzer winner for fiction? All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is serious literary fiction, complete with themes, metaphors, symbolism. But the fantastic thing about this book is that the characters are so lovable and the plot so thrilling, you’ll never notice you’re reading A Great Novel. You’ll just know you don’t want to put it down.
Title has been noted!
On the list, thanks!
And in nonfiction: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast is the illustrated (Chast is a cartoonist) story of Chast dealing with her elderly parents and moving them into a nursing home.
The subject matter is serious, of course, but this book is hilarious in parts and touching, too. This is our book club book for June and I am looking forward to hearing from each of our members, who have either gone through or are going through the same journey.
Yes, this is a great book!
I like Chast’s cartoons a lot. This could be an interesting read.
One more great one in fiction to mention. I’m on a roll!
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a masterpiece, I think. There is again (as in My Brilliant Friend), a theme of scholarship and where your mind can take you. Ifemelu and Obinze are two bright young Nigerians in love. One immigrates to the U.S., the other to the U.K.
As a college student in the U.S., Ifemelu starts a blog on what it’s like to be black in America. I loved her blog entries and thought them an ingenius way of showing both how clever Ifemelu is and what she is experiencing. Both Ifemelu and Obinze hit crisis points that reduce them to shame and the shame keeps them from reaching out to each other. So, of course, you’re always rooting for them to be reunited. And will they ever return to Nigeria? Social commentary combined with love story and so clever to boot!
I agree, a masterpiece. I love all her work.
L, I love your suggestions, and I think we’re on the same literary page, so to speak. I read this with my book club, and can definitely endorse the book. It was fantastic.
L, you are on a roll! I’ve just maxed out my 15 requests at the library. Mathematically speaking you can’t be responsible for all of those, but anyhow I’m glad there’s a wishlist option. Thank you!
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler, is my recommendation. The prose is gorgeous, the themes, profound, and it’s very well-plotted.
Sorry – not sure which perfume it would go with!
Agreed, great book!
But hard to say anything about the plot without spoiling it…
I loved it, too.
Enjoyed this one, too. Maybe SL Muscs Koublai Khan or Masque Milano Montecristo for the scent?
The first sounds about right, but I haven’t tried the Milano!
I’m in a bit of a quandary because although something earthy and animalic is apt, the prose is so exact and sophisticated…
Ok, inspired by the literary theme, here is my offering for total fluff reading and scent…last night I just read the 21st Stephanie Plum novel, total fluff in paperback (although one of the two men in her life wears Bulgari Black – not so fluffy!). This series are all a quick read with no literary pretensions, but they are laugh out loud funny, with memorable characters ( I particularly like the grandmas.) When I get done reading one of these, I always feel refreshed and more appreciative of my job, which does not involve tackling criminals every day, and of my adorable hubbie, who comes home for dinner every night…
The fluff perfume I wore while reading this was Kate Spade’s Live Colorfully, or whatever it is called …the one in the square fuschia bottle, which I squirted on myself when I was in Ulta yesterday. Not something I will repeat, although it reminds me a lot of Eau de Monteil, the one in the pretty green glass bottle with molded leaves, which I went through a few bottles of, lo, these many years ago, how many, I am not exactly sure. I see it on the internet, and I might have to get a little for old times sake. I am interested to sniff Kate Spade’s newer one, Walk on Air, as it is supposed to be an LOTV scent. I sniffed a scent strip in a mag, and I am willing to explore it further on that basis. I like some of her clothes and handbags, and have, come to think of it, a Kate Spade phone protector on my cell phone. This is pink rubber with a shiny photo of many roses, in shades of maroon, fuchsia and dark and light pink. My husband calls my phone “The Devil’s Toy” (he had a preacher for a grandpa), because I actually use an appointment app on it to schedule my day, so I am looking at it a lot, and update it while watching TV, etc. He thinks I should be so enthralled with the last season of Justified, that I could not tear my eyes away! Clearly the scent that goes with my phone is Rose Infernale! Although the scent I have on this rainy Sunday morning is Parfum Sacree….
Although, the recommendations and reviews are great, and I am inspired to get some better books on my audible for my commute. I just downloaded The Invisible Library, which sounds fun, and I will get Life after Life, which I had been eyeing before I read all the positive comments here.
I have been thinking about starting that epic memoire by that Norwegian, My Struggle, Karl Ole Knausgard. The NYT published a two part araticle/story byhim about his recent visit to the US to track down some pre-Columbus Norwegian artifacts in the midwest, and the writing was startlingly wonderful.
But, 6 volumes! I am afraid if I read this I may never finish Remembrance of Things Past! LOL. Has anyone read any Knausgard? I know he has a couple other books – maybe I should try one of those before I commit to the magnum opus….
I have not, but will have to look up that article — sounds interesting. Not sure I could take on another 6 volume work unless it was pretty easy going, like Trollope or the like (it took me over 10 years to finish Remembrance). And possibly the only Norwegian author I have read widely is Sigrid Undset.
@Anniky, I second Shirley Jackson – she is wonderful. The Lottery is one of the most perfectly constructed pieces I’ve ever read.
I’m currently reading Laurie King’s latest Holmes-Russel novel, Dreaming Spies. It had a slow start but is picking up. I recommend the series, as well as her Kate Martinelli series. Other series and individual books not so much.
If you’re into a bit of gratuitous violence with a strong moral code, nothing beats the Lee Child Jack Reacher series. I cannot put those books down.
Can’t remember who recommended Sarah Caudwell, but everything is superb. Also Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler series.
Sarah Smith wrote several compelling books – The Vanished Child, The Weight of Water – amazing. My sisters have stripped my shelves clean, having trouble recalling the others.
And Erik Larsen – anything by him.
About to try Wit again. Hot and humid here, which seems impossible after 12 feet of snow last winter. Trying very hard not to complain about the heat.
Lee Childs Jack Reacher is so formulaic but it’s a fun, quick read in between heavier stuff.
Yes, very formulaic, but diverting. Can’t imagine Reacher having a scent other than motel soap, which used to be Cameo.
Based on this poll, I re-read The Lottery yesterday. All I can say is WOW. What an intense, nuanced, and provocative story in 8 pages. Stunning.
All I can say is Amazon truly benefits from these polls, Robin should get a percentage. So far I purchased We Have Always Live in a Castle, City of Stairs, My Brilliant Friend and several others.
Now I need to quit my job and read full! Thank you everyone.
I’m working on stitching deadlines for a magazine and so don’t have a lot of spare time to read and eyes are tired too, but when I give myself a bit of time I’m loving the mysteries of Higashino Keigo. I love all of his stories but am enjoying The Devotion of Suspect X, one in the Detective Galileo series. Galileo isn’t a detecive himself, but rather a physics professor who helps the police solve mysteries through his theories. These are never cerebral though, the touching humanity in them is what makes them sing.
Ok. So, I’ve added about a dozen titles to my lists at the library! I always get such gems from these reading lists; I’m excited to find out what new authors I’ll discover this time!
Most of what I read these days are nerdy fitness books (working my way through Lou Schouler’s New Rules of Lifting Supercharged right now), but I *did* read some fiction this winter. The best of the bunch was probably the aptly classic The Handmaid’s Tale, which I have found myself contemplating long after reading it. I love how exploration of societies-that-may-be helps us reflect on the world in which we live.
If you decide to pick up the weightlifting book, I suggest a light, but strong scent–maybe a squirt of No. 19 edp (not too much to overwhelm the gym!). If you read Margaret Atwood, you could go one of two ways–something clean and soapy (since they are not allowed personal care products) or you could be brazen and sexy (to reclaim the power of your body).
The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my absolute favourites. If you haven’t read The Blind Assassin, I very much recommend it, it might be an even better book.
Thank you for the rec!
I am reading “The Book of Joan” by Melissa Rivers. An easy to read book with humor and an insight on Joan Rivers. Today I’m wearing VCA’s California Reverie.
Oh, I’ve been looking for more info on Joan Rivers. I heard a wonderfully insightful and surprisingly honest interview with her not long before she passed. I was so impressed by her intelligence and candor.
I enjoyed her documentary A Piece of Work”. Definitely gave me some insight into why she was the way she was. Poignant and a little sad, actually.
Have you ever watched “In bed with Joan Rivers”? An online series. She interviews some interesting people, and on ocasion is very nice to some of them. But always funny.
Oh, what a remarkable woman, that Joan Rivers. I ache for Melissa because I too have a very close relationship with my mother. I know its part of life, but I can’t bare the thought of being in this world without her. I could see myself wearing a perfume that is considered “loud”, but in a good way like Black Orchid from Tom Ford. Its that fragrance that tells people “here I am and I demand respect”. (side note: Thank you Ann for sharing such a fantastic fragrance with me:) )
Late to the party here, but I wanted to recommend Elizabeth McCracken’s “Thunderstruck & Other Stories”, which won the Story prize last year (after George Saunders’ “Tenth of December” the previous year — they’re on a roll.) I didn’t love every one of the stories, as you normally don’t, but the title story and “Hungry” and “Peter Elroy: A Documentary by Ian Casey” and even the long, rambling, madcap “The House of Two Three-Legged Dogs” are all amazing and reminded me why I’ve missed her short fiction all these years. This collection really stuck out from all the rest of the fiction I’ve been reading.
Have tackled lots of non-fiction lately, too, and was unsurprisingly thrilled by Atul Gawande’s latest and David Simon’s “Homicide: Life on the Killing Streets”, which I finally got around to, after many years of meaning to read it. Another one that’s stuck in my head since the winter is Jon Mooallem’s “Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America”. (Best subtitle award, there.)
I have read bits of Dr. Gowande’s book in the context of my work field and will eventually tackle it all. I did read The Death of Ivan Ilych (just some lite beach reading last summer ) which is a really powerful portrayal of our humanity. What perfume would one wear to read these works? Something ephemeral, I suppose.
Non-fiction: The River of Doubt by Candace Millard. Ostensibly, the true story of a little-known event from ex-U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s postpolitical life, a harrowing trip along the Amazon River with his son and a Brazilian explorer, from which they were lucky to have returned alive. But it’s so much more than a tale of adventure; it’s the story of a family, especially the love between father and son, and, for nature lovers like myself, the beautifully detailed, rich descriptions of the flora, fauna, and indigenous peoples of the rainforest are outstanding. Ms. Millard’s experience with National Geographic is clearly evident here, as the nature chapters are so well-wriiten they can stand alone outside the plot of the book. My choice of scent: Sophia Grosjman’s long d/c Neblina with its nectarlike topnotes, pungent wet mossy greens and tropical orchids, puts me right in the heart of the South American jungle.
Fiction: Serena by Ron Rash. The year is 1929, and Serena, cold and calculating but with a lustful intensely passionate side, and her new husband George, travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains to create a timber empire they hope will one day reach to Brazil. Both are ruthless – Serena, the equal to any man, hunts rattlesnakes with a trained eagle – anyone who gets in their way doesn’t do so for long. A mesmerizing story, not the least of which is the title character. Scent choice: There are numerous references to fragrance in the book. Serena wears Tre-Jur talc (a perfume and products company of that time) and wears a French cologne at her husband’s behest after her evening bath that he specially orders for her (perhaps Shalimar?). If I were to scent her today, it would be with a green fragrance for the forests that are center to her universe but one with a degree of elegance that matches the rich sophistication to which she aspires. Most importantly, her fragrance must be one that is no-nonsense, tough, and takes no prisoners. And that would be Chanel No. 19.
I’m currently reading one of the 2 novels my hubby got me for my B-Day: The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro. So far it’s engaging and reads like a juicy mini series.
But one of my favorite books that I’ve read and reread in the last 5 years is “Just Kids” by Patti Smith which is about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. I’m thinking CDG anything would represent their avant garde aesthetic. Or maybe something from Bond No9 to represent NYC.
Wow. Just finished reading that last night and was wondering what scent she would wear and what scent Robert M. would wear. I thought of them when I put on Chinatown, but they would likely want something more obscure. If possible they would want something unique, I imagine. Great book on the artist life.
For a Scandanavian police thriller with a female sleuth the Irene Huss series by
Helene Tursten. There’s also a Swedish TV series available. The Blazing World and Nora Webster are also highly recommended! For history buffs I absolutely loved The Spy Who Loved, The Secrets and Lives of Christine Glanville by Clare Mulley.
The best book I’ve read recently is The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, a very dark story about a woman who reinvents herself after tragic events in her adolescence but finds her carefully cultivated persona cracking. I’d recommend By Kilian’s Good Girl Gone Bad as a fragrant accompaniment, on the basis of the name alone!