2011 Summer Reading List, Part 1

We are about midway through June and about one third of the way through what could be considered my “summer break,” meaning the break between spring semester and fall semester during which I work part-time.

I’ve started working my way through my summer reading list, which is much more extensive and broad than that of other years, since I’m aiming for graduate school after I graduate in May 2012.  So far, I’ve actually made decent progress.  Below, I’ve listed a selection of books I’ve finished reading as well as my recommendations for each.

  • The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming – While I had high hopes for this book, which prominently featured a woman who is technically the Princess of Toledo (my hometown), I was disappointed to discover that the book was not exactly my cup of tea.  Granted, it was fantastically written, and as an alternative history it was spectacular, but the style did not necessarily agree with my tastes as a reader.  As an English student, though, I can certainly see the charm of the book, and encourage those interested in historical fiction or steampunk fiction to check this out.
  • America Pacifica by Anna North – This book, on the other hand, certainly went above and beyond what I expected.  Though I knew it was a futuristic, post-apocalyptic story, a genre I sometimes have difficulty with in adult fiction, the writing was still clear and accessible to an average reader.  Though the ending dragged out a little longer than I would have liked, the mysteries unraveled in the novel are curious enough to keep a reader interested.  It’s not exactly for the optimistic, happy-ending type, but sci-fi and post-apocalyptic fans will enjoy this story about an eighteen-year-old girl who will do anything to save her mother in a tyrannical island society.
  • Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner – What else can be expected from a book given a great review by the New York Times?  I loved Vaclav and Lena, a novel about two young people whose friendship and love stays alive no matter what.  Though the book has its sad moments, it is truly a beautiful story, despite the horrific topic it addresses.  My favorite is Vaclav, though I love Lena as well.  Each important character is given depth and roundness that shows great care.  And, of course, I have a natural affinity for anything regarding immigrants to America.  I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at Vaclav and Lena, if for no other reason than to see the spectacular accomplishment of debut author Haley Tanner.

Those are just three of the books on my list.  In the future, look forward to other small reviews of books including Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin.

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