Summer fast approacheth, and with it comes all my dreams of actually sitting down to read a book or two. I asked Kate Weiss at Carmichael’s Bookstore to put together a summer reading list and she was kind enough to include books for adults, young teens and children. As always, suggestions from Carmichael’s are thoughtful and intentional, which is why they are always my go-to for great reads. They are Louisville’s oldest independent bookstore, too. Read all about their story here.
Click on the book title to buy it online from Carmichael’s. You can have it shipped to you or pick it up in one of their two locations.
Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi
From the prizewinning author of Mr. Fox, this novel is the Snow White fairy tale brilliantly recast as a story of family secrets, race, beauty and vanity. In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty–the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. A wicked stepmother is a creature Boy never imagined she’d become, but elements of the familiar tale of aesthetic obsession begin to play themselves out when the birth of Boy’s daughter, Bird, who is dark-skinned, exposes the Whitmans as light-skinned African Americans passing for white. Among them, Boy, Snow and Bird confront the tyranny of the mirror to ask how much power these surfaces really hold. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her–Neal is always a little upset with Georgie–but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. Is that what she’s supposed to do? Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?
The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
One night, George Duncan–decent man, a good man–is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed. The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story. Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The story of 17-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in an English castle, I Capture the Castle is as brightly witty and adventuresome today as it was when it was first published 50 years ago.
A Love Letter from a Stray Moon by Jay Griffiths
In this fictional tour de force Jay Griffiths, author of the acclaimed Wild, creates a portrait of the artist Frida Kahlo—her devastating accident and her love for Diego Rivera—that is also a celebration of the spirit of poetry and the art of rebellion.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic. To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Spending the summers on her family’s private island off the coast of Massachusetts with her cousins and a special boy named Gat, teenaged Cadence struggles to remember what happened during her fifteenth summer.
All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry
McCarry’s brilliant debut and the first book in an exciting YA trilogy tells the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.
The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare
In this yearlong adventure through the world’s oceans, this award-winning author of The Whale, in colorful prose and lively line drawings, sets out to rediscover the sea and its islands, birds and beasts. Starting at his home on the shores of Britain’s Southampton Water and moving in ever widening circles–like the migration patterns of whales–Hoare explores London, the Isle of Wight, the Azores, Sri Lanka, Tasmania and New Zealand. As Hoare brilliantly weaves together literary and natural history, we encounter memorable people as well as the dolphins, whales and other creatures above and below the water (even one species formerly believed to be extinct). Echoing the fine tradition of W. G. Sebald, but in a voice all Hoare’s own, The Sea Inside is bursting with an endless series of delights and revelations from the ever-changing sea.
Middle Grade (ages 9-12)
The Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer
Although not very good at sports or in his schoolwork, Jimmy can draw and dreams of being a great cartoonist. That dream seems within reach when star athlete Charley Beemer suggests they create comics together.
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier’s exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.
Sparky! by Jenny Offill (Author) and Chris Appelhans (Illustrator)
The ingenious author of 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore and a brilliant illustrator and production designer of the Coraline movie have created a hilarious, touching picture book perfect for young animal lovers. Like the Caldecott Medal-winning Officer Buckle and Gloria, Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn’t good at tricks or hide-and-seek, or much of anything. Still, there’s something about Sparky that is irresistible.
Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio (Author) & Christian Robinson (Illustrator)
This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips, never slobbers. He yips, never yaps. And he walks with grace, never races. Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park–Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette–reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places.
Like what you see here? Carmichael’s always has wonderful picks and descriptions on so many of their books at their stores.
To read our post about the history of Carmichael’s Bookstore, click here.
Carmichael’s Bookstores has two locations:
- 2720 Frankfort Avenue (corner of Frankfort and S. Bayly)
- 1295 Bardstown Road (corner of Bardstown Rd. and Longest Ave.)
Visit their website at www.carmichaelsbookstore.com