EDITOR’S NOTE – This is part of a series featuring Salina Public Library staff and guest bloggers’ recommendations for summer reading. We hope these lists will help you find your next book!
For me, summer reading material should either be light and happy, or a deeply historical saga that covers generations or delves into the personal lives of kings and queens. Either way, you can’t help but get caught up in the doings of the characters, regardless of what time period they are living in. Here are a few books that really stuck with me.
- “Eat Cake” by Jeanne Ray
Not only does this book involve cake, and cake recipes, and even dreaming about cake, but the author made me believe she was writing about my own family. Three generations of Ruth’s family are forced to live together in the same house. Simultaneously, her a husband suddenly loses his job. That’s why Ruth turns to cake baking to achieve a calm, happy state. The characters are believable, but Ruth’s long-divorced parents steal the show. The author illustrates the challenges of multi-generational living with humor.
- “Here Be Dragons” by Sharon Kay Penman
This is the first book in a trilogy that continues with “Falls the Shadow” and “The Reckoning.” Thirteenth-century Wales is the setting, with power-hungry King John and Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, achieving an uneasy truce by marrying the English king’s beloved illegitimate daughter, Joanna, to Llewelyn. But as John’s attentions turn again and again to subduing Wales –and Llewelyn — Joanna must decide where her love and loyalties truly lie. Part history, part romance, the characters come to live and make you want to be a part of the action.
- “Light a Penny Candle” by Maeve Binchy
This was the very first book by Maeve Binchy that I read, and it started a long, happy reading relationship. Binchy’s books offer the best of life in Ireland or England, romance, and happy endings. “Light a Penny Candle” takes place in WWII. As the war heats up, Elizabeth is sent away from her London home to that of her mother’s good friend in Ireland. The O’Connor home is the complete opposite of Elizabeth’s quiet and proper home. But Aisling O’Connor is just her age, and they form a strong bond and see each other through the war and beyond.
- “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
I read this book years and years ago, but I think of it often. It tells the story of King Arthur through the eyes of the women of Camelot: his queen, Gwenhwyfar; high priestess of Avalon, Vivane; and Morgaine, the seer who will bring down Arthur and his kingdom. I felt transported back in time while reading this book. I wanted to go back to that era and meet the characters and be a part of the story.
- “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” by Terry Ryan
This book is nonfiction, so it doesn’t keep to my requirements of light or historical, but it reads like fiction, moving you right along through the story of the author’s mother, Evelyn, who would enter jingle contests in the 1950s and 1960s and win. Not only does she win, but thinking up jingles makes her life of raising 10 children with a less than perfect husband a little easier. You’ll find yourself rooting for Evelyn and for the Ryan kids.
Lori Berezovsky is the library’s Outreach Coordinator.