Three Reads For July

Woman ReadingIt’s July – the hot center of summer.  This is when I reach for my humorous beach reads (that still have some meat on their funny bones). 

Here’s a summer sampling of three books that make me laugh and still tug at my heart.

Children’s:  Shy Charles by Rosemary Wells

Five years ago, we took our daughter on a long trip and she made us read this book about 200 times.  I still love it.  Charles is a shy mouse and his parents wish he’d say more.  Whenever they ask him to speak, Charles says, “zero.”  My daughter still giggles whenever Charles says “zero.”  In a culture that trends towards focusing on the loud, the precocious, the highly-charged child (yes, you, Judy Moody), Rosemary Wells offers a loving tribute to the child who, while quiet, knows just when to save the day.

Young Adult:  Are You Going to Kiss Me Now? by Sloane Tanen

Speaking of cultures, ours is one that spends an awful lot of time following the lives of celebrities.  Couple that with the social networking world and you have a truckload of teenagers who tilt their sunglassed gaze toward the public playground.  In Sloane Tanen’s hysterical first YA novel, red-headed Francesca finds out the hard way that her beloved celebs aren’t all they’re airbrushed to be.  She wins a contest to jet to Africa with a group of celebrities but finds herself marooned on an island with this pack of ne’er do wells  who prove that without their assistants and prescription drugs, they don’t have quite as much to offer as Francesca had hoped.  The novel addresses the deeper issue of celeb-worship while making sure the focus is always on laughing out loud.  Makes it a perfect beach read. 

Fiction:  One Day by David Nicholls

Am I too old to fall in love with a book? Somewhere mixed into the many quotable lines in this wonderful novel, Emma says this – something about being too old for a book to change your life, but I think it happens all the time to me. Maybe not in a huge now-I’m-off-to-do-something-entirely-different way but in a way where my lens gets slightly altered by this story, these characters. One Day is this kind of book: funny, heart-breaking, wise.  Funny again. Here’s a passage that sums up the tone beautifully. Emma’s POV:  “‘Live each day as if it’s your last,” that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you….Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you get the chance….That was her general theory, even if she hadn’t made a very good start of it.”  Words to live by – even when we feel a bit glandy.