Sunday, July 2, 2017

Seven Summer Must Reads for Women!

Anthem Recommends Seven Summer Books for Women!

Every summer, magazines, websites, publishers, friends and family recommend a slew of new summer books to read. Maybe you take those recommendations, maybe you don’t. Maybe you choose your own picks and devour them over the blistering summertime heat.

According to the New York Times’ summer read recommendations, it calls for “no hard” literature, no “deep and twisted meaning”. The Times explains they wanted, romance, fun, light summer reads and that is what it recommends to its readers. I disagree; I want hard, complex characters. Complexity is fine by me. I keep a minimum of 3 books with me, a fun read, a “my choice deep read”, and a book I am usually reading for a review. Don’t limit yourself to only romance novels during the summer months, nor limit to only newly released books, but if you so choose to, great, JUST READ, something, anything!

If romance summer reads is what you are looking for, my recommendations will do you little good. Although love is a factor, deep, complex relationships between- mother and child, men and women are at the core of the books I am recommending. All of the “Seven Books of Summer Recommendations” I have read and adored. Whatever your literary preference, I offer my own suggestions for women, you lovers of the written word. Enjoy.  Here it goes….

"Seven Books of Summer"

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain: Set during the Great Depression; Mildred Pierce is the story of a woman doing her best to help maintain the financial status of her family. She leaves her lazy husband and starts working in a restaurant. Mildred is an amazing female character. She does everything for her children. Yet, her oldest daughter, Veda is the most ungrateful thing imaginable. This book tells the truth of what it is like to be a mother, the struggle, the constant sacrifice by mothers and the sometimes painful treatment a mother suffers at the relentlessness of their children.   

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates:  One of my favorite books on family and a woman’s desire to wanting more in life than just being a mother and a housewife. Yates is a beautiful writer. This is a classic and heartbreaking story of April Wheeler and her family. The book is rich in wonderful domestic characters, but it is April Wheeler that the reader will never forget. Her profound loneliness is evident throughout the entire novel. I loved this book. The reader quickly gets lost in the suburban life of the Wheelers but it is the loneliness of Ms. Wheeler that will have the reader most alive. It is a loneliness that is hauntingly human.

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton:  Poor, Poor Ruth. She is such an awkward girl with low self-esteem. She has a mother that treats her brutally. Ruth has a brother that is a math whiz and is favored and loved by her mother. Ruth has no friends. Ruth’s only friend is found in her aunt and the aunt becomes a saving grace for poor Ruth. She encourages Ruth to write and read. Throughout the novel the aunt and Ruth maintain the most decent relationship throughout the entire book. They become pen pals. These letters prove a lifesaver for poor Ruth throughout the novel. Hamilton develops the character of Ruth from childhood to adulthood. The reader gets to watch Ruth grow into a woman, a wife, and a mother. But the poor, insecure and awkward Ruth is never given a chance to grow into her full potential. Her mother is relentless as ever with each passing day. This book has one of my favorite passages in all of literature. After coming home from church, Ruth sees 3 burnt crows upside down on a telephone pole. She immediately shivers with a feeling of fear. After the horrible incident between her husband and mother, Ruth is adamant that the crows were a prelude to this. She states “Sometimes God gives you a warning sign.” This book will not let you put it down.  

In the Context of Love by Linda K. Sienkiewicz: A beautiful and interesting look at love and the loves that shape one’s life. Angelica falls in love with the high school bad boy. The relationship forever changes the relationship between mother and daughter. This makes the reader want more. Sienkiewicz does a marvelous job of creating tension and then when the reality of why Angelica’s mother feels so harshly against bad boy Joe it eases the reader with pure understanding. But it doesn’t stop there. The book covers decades of Angelica’s life. We see her love, grow, make mistakes, learn, and become a mother and a positive force when given a second chance. But the past has a way of creeping back into your life and it is not always a bad thing to have your past become your present. This is a great read. So full of the complex relationships between mother and daughter, boyfriend and girlfriends, husbands and wives. You will get lost in the beautiful tale of love.  

Snow in May by Kseniya Melnik:  The most wonderful collection of short stories by Russian writer Melnik. This book will transport you to a different time, a different place and shower you with delight at each beautiful tale. “Love Italian Style, or in Line for Bananas” is a wonderful story of a mother and wife and the temptation of a fling and how love overpowers it all. Melnik is such a fresh voice and is bound to keep you cool and interested from first page to last. I love these short stories. Take it in story by story and enjoy!

Beloved by Toni Morrison:  A mother’s love is the strongest force out there and Morrison captures this beautifully in Beloved. Even in death this love cannot be quenched. This book is life, it is poetry, and it is an all year long read. This book is a must read for all true lovers of literature. It is a timeless tale of love, of motherhood, poverty and of the afterlife.

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison:  After reading Beloved, you will have no clue Morrison wrote God Help the Child. Morrison’s voice is completely different, her work contrary to the mother in Beloved. This is a cool, modern take on a strong woman Bride and her even stronger mother, Sweetness, whose name is in no way suggestive to her character. Sweetness is a tough-love mother that punishes Bride for being dark. This constant treatment of Bride makes Bride tough and eventually successful as an adult. As the book continues it is clear that Sweetness had her reasons for treating Bride as she did and everything comes full circle by the end of the book. God Help the Child is an interesting look at what a mother feels necessary to do to in order to protect and prepare her child for the world, however questionable. Morrison writes a short, interesting read at how love comes in different forms, shapes and colors. I’d like to see this book made into a movie and Lupe N’yongo play Bride.  It would be such a good film.  

Happy Reading!

By Francine @
Anthem Book Review


  1. I'm blown away to have my book included in such a stellar list! Thank you.

    1. You are welcome Linda. I really enjoyed your book. And I know others will also once they read it.

  2. By they way, Jane Hamilton and Toni Morrison are a few of my favorite authors. I've read everything by Hamilton. I highly recommend DISOBEDIENCE! It's a great son-mother story.

    1. Thank you for that. I have not heard of Disobedience. I will order a copy today.