Summer Reads

By Kate Riley July 31, 2014

We’ve had a few monsoons during our stay here in the Nevada desert when we have gathering clouds then sudden rainfall accompanied by thunder, lightening, and warm breezes. It’s wonderful since it breaks up the hot days and brings moisture from the skies, and so different for this lifelong California resident, I love them!

I brought with me in a box a stack of books for my month long stay here. One of my favorite things to do when it rains is read a great book with a subject or plotline that intrigues me, turning the pages while I listen to the water droplets fall to the ground, that combination is so comforting. Warm rain, a cup of tea, a great read, simple pleasures are the best. This summer I’ve completed these lovely books in between projects or while drifting off to sleep at night. 

nesting place coverThe Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith.  The Nester is famous for her mellow approach to decorating your home as you please, not rushing the process or being focused on perfection, and never apologizing for your home when it looks lived in.

The book endorses risk taking in decorating and is especially encouraging for renters who don’t feel permanently attached to their houses but still want it to feel like home. Find money saving strategies and tips on contentment true to Nester’s style, loved it!


cloudspotters guideThe Cloudspotter’s Guide: The Science, History, and Culture of Clouds by Gavin Pretor-Pinney.  This book was a gift from a friend and I understand its appeal. Most people have memories that include cloud formations from moments spent looking up and reflecting on their shapes. Clouds are expressions of the atmosphere’s moods and they’re classified by height and appearance.

They form into white puffy mounds and tufts in fair weather or thick and menacing when torrential storms are on the horizon. The book analyzes many more types and their historical associations with myths and legends, and also includes a healthy dose of physics (don’t worry, it’s explained very basic terms!). Read the book and you too will become a Cloudspotter.


imageMastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova.  The book spotlights Holmes’ powers of observation and reliance on intuition. The literary sleuth had extraordinary powers of deduction and the premise is that his methodical thinking and sharp perception are not out of reach for the rest of us.

It begins with an analysis of the "brain attic" (where we store our knowledge and experience) and how to avoid jumping to illogical conclusions. It offers ways through self knowledge and an engaged and motivated mind to think like the literary sleuth. I’m not a Holmes aficionado but I was intrigued by the content and did enjoy the book.


mrs hemingway coverMrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood. This novel tells the story of Earnest Hemingway’s four wives and from each one’s perspective. It begins in the sunny Mediterranean in the mid 1920s when Hemingway was on the verge of literary greatness and married to his first wife Hadley. It moves to Key West with his second wife Fife then on to war torn Paris with his third wife Martha. Mary was his fourth wife and was with him until his suicide in 1961.

The author acknowledges the book is not a true biography but rather a "work of imagination" however she does a wonderful job of giving an equal spotlight to the four strong yet sympathetic wives who all shared a weakness for the self centered and hot tempered author and alcoholic.   

These three are sitting on the nightstand and up next on my list of summer reads! Have you read them ?

all the light we cannot see

the hundred foot journey


August always leaves me clinging to those few short weeks of summer that remain before it’s time for the kids to go back to school. What books are you enjoying this summer, I’d love to know! .



  1. Just finished All The Light We Cannot See. Amazing. Beautiful. A must read.

  2. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Follows the lives of 2 girls (one a slave, given to the other as a birthday present) from their youth through middle age and the journey of abolition and the early days of the womens movement. Chapters alternate from the viewpoint of Handful the slave, and Sarah her very reluctant “owner”. I highly recommend this.

  3. I just finished Longbourne, and really enjoyed it. I also agree with Bernie that The Invention of Wings is a great read. Both books remind me of The Kitchen House, which I loved. Fascinating fictional history.

  4. UGH…I both love and hate reading these posts. The reasoning for this is that I always end up with a couple more books to add to my list. A list that I’m never ever going to get done with, because I continue to read posts like this. :P Anyways, I’ve not read any of the books that you recommended…I’m still working on reading “The Goldfinch”. The next one is “The One & Only” by Emily Giffin, and I also have to finish reading a couple of books from A Song of Ice and Fire series. I am definitely going to have to add all of these books to my list.

  5. I, too, loved The Invention of Wings. Another long time favorite is Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I just finished The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant – read much of it during rainstorms!

  6. I tried reading “Longbourn” and I couldn’t get into it but I’ve had several people recommend “The Invention of Wings”, that Lisa also recommended. Have not yet read “The One Hundred-Foot Journey” but the movie trailer looks great, def. my kind of film.

    Your other recommendations look great. “The Nesting Place” has been on my request list at the library for a while and “Mastermind” is going on there now on my next trip (lol). “The Cloudspotter’s Guide” looks like a fun read, may have to pick that up next trip.

    Thanks for the suggestions!

  7. I loved All the Light We Cannot See– highly recommended. Doesn’t look like you need more recommendations. . . but here are a few books I loved reading recently: The Good Lord Bird; A Constellation of Vital Phenomena; The Tale of the Time Being; and Paul Theroux’s “Last Train to Zona Rosa.”

  8. Not a new book, but one of my favs: “The Gargoyle” by Andrew Davidson. A very dark and haunting love story, my boyfriend and I both loved it.

  9. All the Light We Cannot See was FANTASTIC! Enjoy it and thank you for the others, I love book recommendations.

  10. I loved Longbourne, but I am a hopelessly addicted fan of anything Jane Austen related.

    I’m reading the Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella – the first was hilarious, but it’s starting to wear a little thin by the third.

    Fabulous book not to be missed, is The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella, a food writer who describes flavor and taste in the most astonishing way. Couldn’t put it down, and have given it as a gift to numerous friends.

  11. I also just finished reading Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. I got it to read on our first trip to Hawaii (we followed your list of recommendations, btw) to familiarize myself with the history and culture. Highly recommend it!

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