I didn't set out to have a theme for my summer reading, but one quietly emerged: World War II. (As an aside, I love when you can look back over a group of random things and see an unexpected, yet clear, theme.)
It started with "The Key to Rebecca" by Ken Follett. It's not a book I would normally pick up, but since Kerry and I started e-reading, I read what he gets. A spy story set in Egypt; and who doesn't love a great spy story.
Then I moved onto another book of Kerry's: "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: A Novel" by Jamie Ford. Set in Seattle in 1986 with flashbacks to the 1940s and the height of the war, this novel is jam packed with goodness: Seattle during the war, Chinese nationalism, the Japanese internment camps, and a love story to boot.
Lisa See has a new novel out, "Dreams of Joy" and I was keen to read it. But, I hadn't realized it is actually a sequel to "Shanghai Girls". Of course, I can't read books out of order. Starting in Shanghai in 1937 the book deals with the Japanese invasion of China (which is discussed in "Hotel on the Corner"). The girls, two sisters, then make their way to the west coast of America. While See does not dwell on World War II, she cannot help but mention it, thereby permitting the book to fit within my theme.
Time for another one of Kerry's books: "In the Garden of the Beasts" by Erik Larson. Rather drier reading material since it examines the life of William Dodd as the American Ambassador to Germany (1933-1937) during the rise of Hitler. I skimmed much of it, but got a good sense of Berlin life at the time. It did help that the ambassador's daughter had such an active social life.
Then finally, our book club selection: "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It deals with the German occupation of Guernsey during the war. A delightful read that I never would have picked up were it not for the book club.
Now, to be fair, not all of my books actually fit into the theme. Rob Lowe's memoir, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends" cannot be stretched in anyway to have anything to do with WWII; nor can "The High Road" by Terry Fallis. But that's good. I think I would have been a little freaked out if every book fell into the unplanned theme.
And there ends my Summer 2011 Reads.