The Great Book Review of 2014

To teachers, and student teachers, respectively, the end of the school year seems like the end of a chapter.  As I'm finishing this year off, reminiscing and preparing for the next year, books are rising to the top of my priority list.  I'm almost done with my rigorous student teaching year and I have truly been deprived of leisurely reading throughout the year.  As an English teacher, I've surely gotten to read many of the greats this year and I relish at turning pages of old books I've read many times and discovering new things each time.  But I have a growing stack of books on my bookshelves that I've bought throughout the year that have been just yearning for summertime to be read.  

Before I dive into my new literary treasures, let me reminisce on the wonderful books I have read this year.  I haven't gotten to read as much as I would like (there's never enough time to really read as much as I would like), but here are the fabulous finds that stand out in my memory as being superb choices for any upstanding summer reading list:

1.  The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

This novel is a beautiful epic that begins in Italy in the early 1900's, travels to New York, Minnesota, and WWII France.  With a balanced mix of historical fiction and romance, the characters are bound to capture your heart.  Perhaps it is largely in part due to 1920's New York being my all-time favorite part of history, or maybe because of the entrancing descriptions of the Italian alps and Italian food that make me want drop everything and leave tomorrow.  In 400 pages of early 20th century fabulousness, Trigiani creates a captivating love story that has the reader following several families throughout a lifetime, and wishing that there were more.

2.  Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

My first exposure to Marcus Samuelsson, like many other self-proclaimed foodies I'm sure, was from watching Chopped.  The man has truly established himself in the world of food and has quite the story to share of his experience to the top of the ladder.  Samuelsson's cooking philosophy exists in an intersection of his Ethiopian roots, Swedish upbringing, and love of New York.  I think he is the crème de la crème.  He's the cat's meow.  Any way you want to put it, I regard him as a bit of a god in the food business.  I've been lucky enough to eat at his restaurant in Harlem, Red Rooster, and I can't wait to go back again this summer.  This book should be at the top of any foodie's list.  Samuelsson has so much insight to share and his story is nothing short of inspiring.  

3.  A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

Although many critics have noted that this is not one of Eggers' best works (and that statement is no way to begin a book review... but hey, I'm new at this), I found this humdrum account of a middle-aged American businessman venturing out to Saudi Arabia to be hilarious.  Our protagonist is a painfully average guy who has failed in the business world, failed at his marriage, is bored by his mundane life, struggling to pay for his daughter's college, and is constantly worried about his impending death.  Somehow he ends up in Saudi Arabia on a business trip and is waiting for a meeting with a king that may or may not ever happen.  Admittedly, not much really happens in the novel, but that's sort of the beauty.  It is a hilarious, remarkably honest account of mediocrity.  

What's on your summer reading list?  Share share share!