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Non-Embarrassing Summer Reading List

Erin Zammett Ruddy

I recently got asked by another blogger to share my summer reading list and it was, well, embarrassing. I need some suggestions—stat.

What are you reading right now? I’ll go first, though I’m not exactly proud. I just finished Fifty Shades of Grey. Full disclosure: I had to read it for a story I’m writing for another magazine (I swear—my editor literally said, “can you read it this weekend, please?” a few Fridays ago). I didn’t think it would be my thing—mediocre writing, hard-core sex—but I’d be lying if I said I hated every second of it (although there was a lot of skimming so I didn’t actually endure every second). Before you think I’m some kind of book snob, know this: I am just about to finish The Hunger Games trilogy and I’m obsessed. LOVE. I also devoured Twilight. I read what I like, regardless of what others may think (though I would never have taken Fifty Shades out of my house). That said, I’m in need of something meaty for the summer.

Some of the (non-blockbuster/-trilogy) books I’ve read recently:

The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff FamilyWritten by my friend, Laurie Sandell, but that has nothing to do with why I loved it—it was just beyond fascinating to get so intimate with this family and this story. It's eye-opening and juicy and sad on so many levels. 

Outliers by Malcolm GladwellI think I picked this up after The Hunger Games, as a palate cleanser. It hit a little too close to home considering Alex is born in September (remember my post about redshirting?) but I still enjoyed reading it. 

Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. Loved.

Bossypants by Tina Fey. Loved, Loved, Loved. Laughed out loud so many times, there is no way I would have been able to read this book in public.

I'm leaning a lot toward non-fiction these days, particularly if it’s about food or dysfunctional families (I probably loved Blood, Bones and Butter so much because it combined the two). Under Mockingjay on my nightstand sits Jasmine and Fire: A Bittersweet Year in Beirut by Salma Abdelnour. Salma and I worked together on the Glamour cookbook right before she left to go back to Beirut, her home until she was nine. I adore her and cannot wait to crack this and I will definitely be able to take it with me in public, which is good. I also want to read Marcus Sameulsson’s new memoir, Yes, Chef , which, incidentally, was written with Veronica Chambers, another writer/editor friend, who was our editor on the Glamour cookbook. Has anyone read this yet? Is anyone else obsessed with food memoirs? Do I need some new interests? 

I long gave up bringing books to the beach with my kids and I know I can no longer devour a novel in a weekend (unless I’m being paid to and it’s easily skimmable, a la Fifty Shades). But summer is reading time, no? In junior high and high school I was always given mandatory reading lists. And while I moaned about having to spend my vacation with the classics, I loved having that kind of guidance (and, of course, I’m glad I read those classics). But it's July already and my brain feels very mushy. I’m sure it has something to do with the mix of chlorine and sunscreen and salt water and Housewives marathons and YA literature and late nights with friends and the endless glasses of wine and bottles of beer and the “it’s summer, why not?”-ness of this time of year. Regardless, I need the antidote and I think it’s probably in a book.

What are you reading right now? What’s next on your list? Any great suggestions?