Summer Reading 2014

SummerReading2014

There is something so decadent about summer reading. For all the years I was a student, summer was the only time I could read whatever I wanted without the guilt of homework and textbook reading hanging over me. (I still devoured books all during the school year, just in stolen hours in the middle of the night and with a lot more guilt.)

Here is some of the fun stuff I’ve read this summer:

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The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. Thank you, Samantha, for this excellent recommendation. The Mediterranean world in Roman times really comes alive in this book. It made me see the lives of the early Christians in ways I had never considered.

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Who hasn’t read TFiOS this summer? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s a quick read; I finished it in about two hours from the time I cracked open the cover. Not at all sappy or sentimental, the voice is sarcastic and canny and spot-on. I can promise that you will laugh out loud (like a hyena) and you will cry (violently, like a crazy person).

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The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. I gave this Pulitzer Prize winner my endorsement here.

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The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman and Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska. Somehow I missed these two Newbery Medal-winners growing up. The whole time I was reading The Whipping Boy I kept thinking about how it would be the perfect entertaining read-aloud for my younger siblings (I think I’ll do that soon). And Shadow of a Bull reminded me of the summer I was working in Spain and got to see a bullfight in the Plaza de Toros in Madrid.

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The Last Olympian, The Lost Hero, and The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. My little brother, who just turned ten, introduced me to Rick Riordan’s books, including the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, The Heroes of Olympus Series, and the Kane Chronicles. He and I have been having so much fun reading all of them and getting geeked out on them together. The adventures are epic and the writing style is casual, conversational, and funny. Most of all I love how they’re getting kids excited about Greek and Egyptian mythology. (When I was a kid I read Edith Hamilton’s Mythology and any other mythology book I could get my hands on over and over again, so that is a cause I can get on board with!)

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The Green Smoothies Diet by Robyn Openshaw. I read six or seven books on green smoothies while I was doing research for an eBook I wrote for a client, and this one stands out as the best. I learned lots of cool stuff about the nutritional contents of greens.

isabelthequeen adrizzleofhoney bestlovedfairytales

Isabel the Queen: Life and Times by Peggy K. Liss and A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews by David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson and Best-Loved Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen. More research for my secret project! The more Isabel biographies I read, the more I am impressed with her strength. She commanded a nation, generaled a war, and founded an empire. She endured the infidelity of her husband, the stillbirths of two of her seven children, and the deaths of her heirs and children Juan and Isabella, and still retained her dignity and a sincere, devout faith in God.

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. This book (along with The Poisonwood Bible) should be required reading for everyone who lives, eats food, and breathes air on planet Earth. One of these times I’ll have to dedicate an entire post to it; she articulates so engagingly and passionately the beliefs I share about food and the way it should be grown, harvested, distributed, eaten, and loved.

lifeofpi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel has been on my reading list for a decade and I’m finally getting around to it! I’ll let you know what my verdict is when I finish.

Have you guys read any of these books? Did you like them? Dislike them?

What books are on your summer reading list? What books have you read and enjoyed lately?

Does anyone beside me keep a “to-read” list to keep track of book recommendations and books you’re meaning to read? What books are on your to-read list? And does anyone have any recommendations for me?

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Westwater Canyon, the Jordan River, and Summertime Water Adventures

Logan (age eight), Evan (age six), and me (age ten) on top of Mt. Timpanogos

Logan (age eight), Evan (age six), and me (age ten) on top of Mt. Timpanogos

The same way I spent my childhood camping in the Uinta Mountains, hiking through southern Utah’s red rock canyons, and eating tinfoil dinners “because if you’re going to eat dinner anyway it might as well be over a campfire,” Mark spent his childhood at the Pacific Ocean.

Mark and his brothers at the Ventura Pier. Photo by Michael Sears.

All the brothers at the Ventura Harbor. Photo by Michael Sears.

Growing up only four blocks, and later eight miles, from the beach, Mark inherited his dad’s love for the ocean, for surfing, and for beach volleyball. Family fun meant body boarding, tossing a frisbee or aerobie around in the sand, and catching waves. And whenever we go visit the California folks, it still does.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Photo by Michael Sears.

Now that Mark is here in my landlocked country to stay (at least for the next few years), he’s been having some water recreation withdrawals, so we do our best to find summertime aquatic adventures.

We love the Mona rope swing…

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The water park that’s only five minutes from our house…

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And the Payson Grotto with the siblings.

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Last summer we decided to go whitewater rafting for Mark’s birthday. We piled our camping gear on the motorcycle and drove 235 miles to Moab, where we set out for Westwater Canyon.

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Westwater Canyon is a seventeen-mile stretch of the Colorado River that features class IV rapids and otherworldly terrain. It’s a black volcanic rock canyon inside of a red rock sandstone one, so when we weren’t paddling as hard as we could through the rapids and trying to stay in the boat, we got to float and take in the gorgeous scenery.

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And this year for Mark’s birthday we found a good deal on an inflatable paddle boat! We’ve already taken it on some grand adventures: to the Spanish Fork Reservoir with friends and on a seven-mile journey down the Jordan River, where we saw amazing wildlife (a beaver so big it looked like a baby bear, among other things) and felt like we were in another world.

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