Daisy's Summer Reading List

Aug 10, 2022 by Mr. Allen

Summer usually equals reading lists.  Lists equal chores.  Chores equal ugh.  But I'm lucky.  The only rule Aunt Mill laid down is that I have to read something and it has to be something that (according to her) isn't completely idiotic.  Aunt Mill's apartment in Paris, where I'm currently in exile, is book heaven. Her bookcases are stuffed. More books live under the couch, fill the fireplace, tower like stalagmites in the corners. Nothing to eat here most of the time, but you can always find a book.

              The other Aunt Mill rule is that I don't have to finish.  If I read a page or even a hundred pages and I don't want to go on, I just put the book down.  No disapproving frowns.  No book report required. Of course, when Aunt Mill comes home, she likes to talk about books (no big surprise since she owns half the books on the planet) and she's almost always read every book that I'm reading. She's always enthusiastic.  She sees things in books that I miss completely.  Lots of times, when I'm about to give up on a book, she'll go on about it in such a foaming passion that I want to rush away from the table and go back to reading.

              But, okay, what books specifically?

              Truth be told, I'm a big re-reader.  I've re-read Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson) Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) and I started in on I Captured the Castle (Dodie Smith) which I so thoroughly adore that I’m considering changing my name to Dodie.  Technically, I’m not really rereading I Captured the Castle, I’m just in denial that I haven’t read it already.

              Meantime, while traipsing through Aunt Mill’s jungle of books, I’ve discovered some that I never would have looked at but really love, like Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire (Amanda Foreman) Speak Memory (Vladimir Nabokov) and Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen). Okay, so I picked up Pride and Prejudice because Aunt Mill gushed about it. Her copy features a cover of a lady in a beautiful, old-timey dress, back when they wore prom dresses every day of the week.  Then, of course, inside was Jane Austen.  Be warned though, if you read Jane Austen, you’ll either want to become one of the characters in her books, or you’ll want to write like her, and probably both. 

              As for newer books, considering my interests, it won't surprise you that on my list are Caveat Emptor (Ken Perenyi) about art forgery, False Impressions (Thomas Hoving) also about art forgery, and, Museum of the Missing (Simon Houpt) about art detectives and stolen art. I also devoured Becoming Mona Lisa: The Making of a Global Icon (Donald Sasson), reread The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) about three times, and continue to pour over a marble slab of a book called Paintings in the Louvre, by Lawrence Gowing, with pictures of all the old paintings and descriptions of the artists who made them. See a pattern emerging?  

            As you know, I love Paris when I'm not hating on it, so I'm reading Marie Antoinette (Antonia Fraser), Seven Ages of Paris (Alistair Horne), Parisians (Graham Robb), and A Bite-Sized History of France (Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell), a genius combination of food and history that makes you hungry while you laugh. 

            Of course, I also have Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley) standing by, just in case, and keep dipping in and out of Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation (Judith Mackrell) which always sends me on mini trips around Paris, because most of the amazing women in the book lived here at some point.  Lasty, I just pre-ordered Jacqueline in Paris, Ann Mah’s new book that is due out September 27.

            Please though, don’t let out that I'm a total book nerd, even though I obviously am.  That's the thing about summer reading.  Books are fun to talk about if you feel like talking to someone, and at the same time, you can read anything you like and you don't have to tell a single soul.  Only you and the book will know.  

            Happy summer reading everyone!