One thing I did this summer was read a lot of books.  Here’s why.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: Why? My mom told me to read it.  She tells me to read a lot of books, but she also reads more than anyone I know so it’s hard to keep up.  I finally sat down with this one and am so very happy I did.  It was surprising.  I particularly liked the alternating voices.  I particularly didn’t like the ending, but the characters are still with me.  Besides, endings are impossible.

Like The Red Panda by Andrea Seigel.  Why? Because I like her website, and she has a really cute dog.  (The website factor goes a long way with me.  It’s how I chose a college.)  Plus, I’m always looking for YA that’s not really YA and has smart teenaged protagonists but not the over-articulate  or precocious kind.   But mostly because of the website.

Last Night In Montreal by Emily St. John Mandel.  Why? Because it seemed like everyone else was reading it.  And she came to the island to do a signing (which, sadly, I missed.)  It turns out, only everyone in Brooklyn is reading it, but everyone else should read it, too.  It’s incredibly tight and quick and substantial.  It was a book that I wanted to pass on to a friend right away, and did.

Tinkers by Paul Harding.  Why? Because I scouted it out of obscurity and just knew it had potential.  Just kidding.  Because it won the Pulitzer.  And deserved to.  Read it.

Lit by Mary Karr:  Why? Because memoirs by poets are generally the only memoirs I love as much as fiction.  The language in this one was not as startling or powerful as her others, but it made sense.  I’m happy she’s okay.

South of Broad by Pat Conroy.  Why? Because my Dad told my Mom to read it but she wasn’t finished with any of the other ten books she was reading, yet.  This was the real surprise of the group.  I haven’t read a Conroy book since The Great Santini in high school and I’ve always lumped them in the books-for-sensitive-dudes category.  I don’t know why, maybe the whole Prince of Tides Nick Nolte thing, and this book didn’t do much to convince me otherwise, but man, I loved the crap out of it.  I read it a month ago and still remember every character’s name, and continue to have feelings about each of them, particularly the sensitive-dude protagonist.  Lesson learned: Don’t judge a book by it’s Oprah-seal cover.

That’s it.  Maybe later I’ll tell you about the books I still haven’t read and why not.  Until then — your turn.