“I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember” – A true statement. “Studying English in college means I still read more books than I can count” – Not so much.
Just because I spent four years studying literature doesn’t mean that I read 3, 4, or 5 books a month (or even the ones that I was supposed to be reading for class – sorry Professor Coletti!). And even though I don’t read many books in a row anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t want to – it just means that sometimes life gets in the way. College was a very busy time, as I’m sure many of you know, and there just always seemed to be so many other things to do (studying, attending student org meetings, watching Netflix…)!
Cue Summer, the happy season in which I always seem to do the most of my reading. Free time, especially time spent on vacation, always passes so much quicker during the summer, and I’m happy to say that I do spend a lot of it catching up on my “to-read” list. This July was busier than others, spent recovering from my trip to Europe, going to the beach with my family, and moving into a new house, but I did get through two books while I was on vacation.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford is about a Chinese-American man, Henry Lee, who was a child in Seattle during WWII. Ford uses a mix of flashbacks and present-day (well, 1986) narration to show both Lee’s experiences as an Asian-American during the time of prejudice against Japanese-Americans and how those experiences still affected his life as an adult. Lee befriends a Japanese-American classmate just as the US is beginning to set up camps for Japanese-Americans during the war, and he faces criticism from society and his family as he tries to sort out his own confused feelings.
My mom had wanted me to read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet for months, so I thought it would be the perfect book to take with us to the beach, and I loved it! I’m a sucker for historical novels anyway (especially anything involving WWII or the Civil War) and I think that HotCoBaS gives an interesting view of how Chinese-America, especially those on the West coast, dealt with racial prejudice as a result of the war.
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher was also a suggestion from my mom, and it was a great beach read. It follows Penelope Keeling and her relationship with her three adult children as they each try to tell her what to do with her prized possession, a painting by her father worth thousands of dollars. I loved the use of flashbacks (also during WWII – apparently this was a theme for me this July?) to give context to their relationships and how the text explored how family members can hate and love each other at the same time. I also personally agree whole heartedly with what Penelope eventually decided to do with the painting (and was pleased to have guessed it before it actually happened!).
I would definitely recommend both of these novels to anyone looking for a good read – neither text was difficult to get through at all, and I think they both tackled emotion very well and gave a good look into how people function as individuals within relationships.
What’s your favorite book that you’ve read so far this summer?