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With a Lot of Lying Down Comes This

By Brooke Benton

First it was Elizabeth Strout. A thorough reading and rereading of Olive Kitteridge wasn’t enough and I delved back into her other novels with abandon: jealous and thirsty.

Then it was an inordinate amount of chick lit, the best of which (probably Jennifer Weiner?) I’m even almost too embarrassed to admit.

Right now it is John Steinbeck. East of Eden sent me in a tizzy and just the first few chapters made my heart ache so much that I had the rest of his novels on reserve at the library before I even finished. They are stacked askew on my bedside table right now—balanced precariously on a bevy of magazines, in between a half-empty water bottle and my iPod.

Growing up in the south bay and near Salinas (Steinbeck’s stomping grounds), I actually read much of this in high school. But I can’t remember—or I’m a different person now, and the words were wasted on me, and so back to them I go to feast.

I am pregnant and so I’m especially lazy, and especially (maybe too much so?) forgiving of that laziness. I have no qualms sneaking to my bedroom in the middle of the day to partake my weakness: I love to read. And right now, I love it more than anything. Is it that I know these days of indulging my weakness are numbered? That soon I won’t be able to read so intensely, so freely?

Anyway, I know about Goodreads and all, but I’m curious about your summer reading lists, and maybe what keeps a permanent place on your nightstand these days. Are you are reader too? What are you reading? What’s next? Or are you in a place in your life where reading for pleasure is a luxury? And if so, what’s on your wish list?


About Brooke Benton

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

32 thoughts on “With a Lot of Lying Down Comes This”

  1. I didn't start reading for pleasure until about 2 years ago. Now I read every night. I don't usually plan what I am going to read, I just pick something up on a whim.

    I have 2 piles of books…those to own and those to get rid of. I am not shy about not finishing books I think are not worth the time.

    Right now I am concentrating on the classics. Things I missed from my youth. Jane Austen's "Emma" is keeping me company, currently, and then I'll move on to whatever looks good. I think "Catcher In The Rye" may be calling my name.

  2. I have a household of compulsive readers. It's a disease.

    If you enjoy history and excellent writing, I can scarcely recommend The Parisians enough. But buy the actual book– the audio version was a pleasure to listen to, but I got lost several times. And have you read The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton? Delicious.

    I adore YA lit and am in the middle of The Necromancer (from the Alchemyst series) by Michael Scott. If I just had a few free hours I could finish it today. And I can hardly wait to read the new Rick Riordan. There's never enough time to read; it's such a shame.

  3. I'm taking an Adolescent Lit class this summer, so my reading is being dictated to me.

    Go Ask Alice- Sparks
    Walk Two Moons – Creech
    Out of the Dust – Hesse
    Nightjohn – Paulson
    Watsons Go to Birmingham – Curtis
    Fahrenheit 451 – Bradbury
    Graveyard Book – Gaiman
    any Harry Potter book
    Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World – Armstrong
    Hitler Youth – Bartoletti
    Touching Spirit Bear – Michaelsen
    Breathing Underwater – Flinn
    Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes – Crutcher
    Stuck in Neutral – Trueman
    American Born Chinese – Yang
    Higher Power of Lucky- Patron
    Seedfolk – Fleishman
    Rules – Lord
    Catcher in the Rye – Salinger
    Forever – Blume

    I started with Harry Potter #7. I'm least excited about Forever by Judy Blume.

  4. I loved Olive Kitteridge…it deeply impacted me. Other books I've loved lately (many!) include:
    "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova, about a 50 year old woman's diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's
    "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese
    "Enchantment", a fantasy/fairy-tale by Orson Scott Card (I read it a couple years ago, but thinking of re-reading)
    "In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom", by Qanta Ahmed.
    All are good books in different ways.

  5. I'm currently reading Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell and have just been blown away by how good it is. It's LONG (over 1000 pages) but so worth it.

  6. If reading is a disease it has greatly impacted our house, and left few survivors. Right now We have stacks of YA fantasy around, Tamora Peirce- great, strong female heros!! Brandon Sandersons Alcatraz Series- If you want a funny read this is it. Shannon Hales Goose Girl series, again strong in the female hero department. Austen, Byron, and Bronte always. And lately I have fallen in love with the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

  7. Jenn, I just read Enchantment and loved it! I couldn't find it on his website which I thought was strange. Anyway, there is so much out there to read and so little time! I'm not sure what interests you? Some of my favorite and interesting for adult reading YA lit includes:

    The Hunger Games and Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
    Shiver – Maggie Stiefvater
    Graceling and Fire – Kristin Cashore
    InsideOut – Maria V. Snyder
    Twilight Series (I'm sure you've heard of these :D)
    Percy Jackson series (loved catching up on Greed mythology)
    Fablehaven series – Brandon Mull
    Shannon Hale – The Goose Girl (simple, but a fun read), this is a series, but she has other stand alone stories

    My favorite adult authors of recent months are:

    Maria V. Snyder – Poison Study/Magic Study/Fire Study (a little darker, but couldn't put it down) *I wouldn't recommend this to all of my LDS friends

    Sarah Addison Allen – Garden Spells/The Sugar Queen/The Girl Who Chased The Moon (sweet stories with a touch of magic)

    Life As I Know It – Melanie Rose (Loved this! So clever!)

    Ruth Reichl – Tender at The Bone

    The Scarlet Pimpernel – I didn't expect to like this and ended up loving it!

    Except for the last two on this list, all of these stories has some magical storyline. If you like that, you'll like these. If you haven't read Pride and Prejudice in a while, that's a great re-visit! I've just done all the Jane Austens again and that is my favorite.

    Have fun reading! I used to read every night in my bed, but married a man who has to have lights out. For 23 years I've read on the couch. Oh well, at least I still have my reading time after everyone is asleep!

  8. I recently read "Into Thin Air," a memoir about the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster by Krakauer. Now I can't stop reading books about Mt. Everest and mountain climbers! My husband just laughs. I'm also reading non-fiction books on happiness right now. I look forward to everyone else's lists!

  9. Have you read THE HELP yet? Or THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY? (I just hate that title and thought it would be a cheesy read . . . but it wasn't.) Just last night I stayed up until midnight finishing Tobias Wolff's OLD SCHOOL, a quick, delightful read that's basically a paen to literature and literary people. (Thanks, Darlene, for the loan!) I also just finished, and loved, Brady Udall's THE LONELY POLYGAMIST, but it's not for everybody (in other words: content warning!). Oh, and THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield was a really enjoyable English ghost story/mystery/love letter to authors like Charlotte Bronte and Jane Austen.
    And for those of you who like YA lit and/or dystopian fiction a la THE HUNGER GAMES, I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy of Ally Condie's upcoming book, MATCHED, and it was an excellent read. You're gonna love it! But it doesn't come out until November, so you can read that one while you nurse. 🙂

  10. I went through a period of no reading with too many small children in the house, but now I'm back into the swing of reading, I'm really enjoying it. A few things I've read recently are: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (HIGHLY recommend this one if you haven't read it), The Mindy Klasky series that starts with A Girl's Guide to Witchcraft (a fun magical chick-lit series), Michael Palmer's The First Patient (a good mystery/thriller), and right now I'm reading Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc. I'm enjoying it so far! Oh, I also read Maureen McCormick's book about growing up in the Brady Bunch. That wasn't particularly well-written, but a fun read if you are a Brady Bunch fan! 🙂

  11. I love reading more than anything else, and often I spend too much time doing it, though I think it really is not such a bad habit. I never enjoyed reading as a child/ teen, but as a young adult I caught the bug. Currently I'm reading "Jane Eyre" which is a favorite of mine.

    My reading list for the summer includes:
    "Hound of the Baskervilles" by A.C. Doyle
    "The 13th Tale" by Diane Setterfield
    "All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy (I'd also like to read "The Road" by hime)
    "Angle of Repose" by Wallace Stegnar
    And anything else I have time for.

    Some of my favorites include:
    "These Is My Words" by Nancy Turner (This is a trilogy, and the 2nd and 3rd books are delightful as well). Be prepared for some serious tears!
    "How Green Was My Valley" by Richard Llewellyn
    "Cry, the Beloved Country" by Alan Paton
    "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver
    "The Goose Girl" and a lot of others by Shannon Hale.

    My list of favorites could go on and on and on. I love anything about WWII, Africa, and Russia. And I agree with twolittlehands: there are so many amazing books to read that I don't waste my time if a book doesn't measure up.

    Happy reading everyone!

  12. I just finished Every Last One by Anna Quindlen, and I loved it—I always love her writing, and this one had me crying at the end.

    I'm currently reading Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin; it's been riveting so far, but I'm only 75 pages in.

    Books I've read lately and enjoyed: Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, and Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter, Ann Kidd Taylor (if you're in your late 40's, this is a must-read).

    I also second Angela's recommendation of The Help and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And I've loved all three of Ruth Reichl's memoirs: Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me with Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires.

    Books in my summer reading pile that I haven't read yet: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (don't know why I haven't read this classic yet), The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver), The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon—I think Shelah recommended this one awhile back), The Piano Teacher (Janice Lee), People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks), and The Hunger Games. Can't wait to delve into my pile.

  13. I'm tackling Anna Karenina this summer, and loving it. I just finished another read of East of Eden, and was on a Steinbeck kick for a while too because of it!

    I've also recently started Mark Twain's book The autobiography of Joan of Arc, but the jury is still out on it.

    I recently reread The Hunger Games in anticipation of the third installment, and aside from some plot issues, it's a great read.

    How about some Eudory Welty? I love her writing. Or Wallace Stegner is always good for getting immersed in something beautiful. I was on a Russian author binge for awhile recently, and am still in love with Alyosha Karamazov, and so highly recommend some Dostoevsky.

    On the lighter side, I second the Guernsey letters book. I also liked Bel Canto, although it was a little on the strange side. Something serious? How about some Cormac MacCarthy?

    I love summer reading!!

  14. And of course I must put in a plug for our new book, Dance with Them, because it is a gorgeous collection of essays, and a must-read as well. =)

  15. Love the Guernsey book, too. For some reason, I love the Anne of Green Gables series when I am pregnant and breastfeeding.

    A good recent non-fiction: Freakonomics. Just plain interesting stuff. Good luck with the babe!

  16. If you want to read some Dostoevsky, but have already read The Brothers Karamazov, skip Crime and Punishment and go straight to The Idiot. And, of course, make sure you read the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation.

    And speaking of that translator couple, I will be doing my yearly reading of The Master and Margarita at the end of the month.

    I'm currently reading Gormenghast — the middle book of the Mervy Peake trilogy. It's fantastic, but requires a patient reader. But the language and the imagery is wonderful and creepy and hilarious.

    If you want something nonfiction that's fascinating and not too deep but not too light either, I really enjoyed reading The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire.

    I have a bunch of epic fantasy and sci-fi recommendations but I don't know if anyone is interested in that kind of thing, so I'll just point to my GoodReads read shelf.

    Okay, so I will mention one. This series has strong female characters, excellent plotting and character development, and a unique world setting — but one that isn't too fantasy-ish and all overtly epic-like: Daniel Abraham's The Long Price Quartet.

  17. I was just looking through my four-star reviews on GoodReads and came across a book that might be of interest: The Magicians and Mrs. Quent by Galen M. Beckett. It's in the same vein as Sussan Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, but not quite so slow moving and literary. But if you like Jane Austen and want to read something that is a bit deeper than standard fantasy, but an easy read with some wit and charm to it, I recommend it.

    Here's a link to my review (ignore the ugly cover — fantasy covers are often terrible and not super telling of what's inside).

  18. I just got some great new reading ideas! I was a voracious reader until my daughter was born, and then it took a long time to get back into it. I read mostly feel-good tales, like the Elm Creek Quilts series and some YA, but I'm turning more towards the long to-read list I accumulated BJ (Before Jane), thanks to Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri.

  19. Karyn-Thanks for the recommendation; I read that one several years back, and I remember really loving it, but I don't remember much about it now. Maybe it's time for a re-read!

  20. I started "East of Eden" a couple weeks ago, and I completely agree. I'm almost terrified to pick it back up again it's SO GOOD. This from a person who listed "Winter of Our Discontent" as my favorite novel for years.

    Did you ever read "The Historian"? I'm about to pick up the new Kostova "The Swan Thieves". I also have an eye on "The Lonely Polygamist".

  21. Oh my goodness, I could read all day. I am typically found on the couch w/ my kindle. Lately I have been spending a lot of time reading YA. I am a middle school teacher and I make a promise to my students that if they recommend a book to me I will read it. Even though I teach SpEd science it always encourages my kiddos to read more. One that I recently read and adored "Stargirl". Loved it!!!

  22. Um, I am totally a complusive reader and even with small children I read a number of books a month. I'll be lazy and suggest you just go look at my blog, since I type up each month's reading with a little bit about each book (click on the 'books' label).

    I've also enjoyed "These is My Words" and the Guernesy book–I thought both titles were cheesy, but they turned out to be really good books. Another author I've recently discovered is Ursula Hegi–start with "Stones from the River" and then read the rest of her books. I also recommend Virginia Sorensen, a Utah author from the early 20th century.

    Nonfiction: If you haven't read "A Girl Named Zippy" yet, you really should. That and the sequel were just awesome. I also really loved the somewhat recent biography of President Kimball called "Lengthen Your Stride". Two other nonfiction books that I recently loved were "My Own Country" by Abraham Verghese (some of the content is a little strong) and "NurtureShock"

    Happy reading!

  23. My most recent read was "The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B" by Sandra Gulland. If you like solid historical fiction and/or the French Revolution you'd enjoy this. There are 2 more for which I am already salivating …

    Many of those listed I've also enjoyed, but to add a few excellent picks to those above: Erik Larson's "Isaac's Storm", "To Destroy You is No Loss" by Joan Criddle, "We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance" by David Howarth, "The Brothers K" by David Duncan, and Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged".

    It's an eclectic list and the last two are epic and therefore daunting (akin to East of Eden in length) but I love to mix it up! 🙂

  24. I'm currently reading Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner, and as usual, I love his writing, but his characters frustrate the heck out of me – as they are meant to do. I recently finished The Book Thief and loved it. I'd definitely second The Help – great book. Next up on my reading list is Little Bee, which is our book club book.

  25. I love discussions about book suggestions! However, my current pregnant state has brought frequent nightmares that incorporate anything I've read or watched. Since I can't give up reading altogether, I've resorted to my old, sappy-sweet L.M. Montgomery (Jen #16–I'm glad I'm not the only one) and Louisa May Alcott collection. I'm nervous to go back to my current bedside pile, but also wishing I could attack some of the books listed in these comments.

    My suggestions: The Help, definitely; A Town Like Alice; Agnes Grey; The Glass Castle and, with that, Half-Broke Horses.

  26. Three other great authors to consider for those who love historical fiction/romance are: 1-George MacDonald an early Christian who wrote several excellent novels, most set in the 1800's in Scotland (I love the Fisherman's Lady and the Baronet's Secret the best) and 2- Elizabeth Gaskell who wrote the novels about the industrialization in the early 1900's in England. My two favorites of hers are North and South (the ultimate romance in my opinion next to Pride and Prejudice) and Wives and Daughters, and Cranford. Another good author is Anthony Trollope but he is a bit wordy for some….Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne are probably my favorites of his novels.


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