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Continued: Summer books: Reader recommendations

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  • Last update: May 30, 2014 - 3:25 PM


What says summer more than Mexico? I’ve been bingeing on Mexican memoirs lately. I started with an oldie but goodie, “Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone,” by Mary Morris. This is Mary’s spiritual journey in San Miguel Allende, where she heads to heal from some bad relationships and develops a tender friendship with her neighbor Lupe, but it’s more about Mary’s inner journey of dreams and letting go of the myth that one needs a man, ha!

Next on my list is Barry Golson’s “Gringos in Paradise: An American Couple Builds Their Retirement Dream House in a Seaside Village in Mexico.” (Well, that’s a mouthful!) Golson has a dry sense of humor in this tale of building a house with the help of a Mexican architect, Beto. I love when Barry’s elderly father brings a ham from the States for Thanksgiving and is more concerned about refrigerating the ham than getting a ride from the airport to the new house.

Currently, I’m rereading “On Mexican Time, a New Life in San Miguel,” by Tony Cohan, also about the charms of being an expatriate in Mexico.

I have never been to Mexico, but this is where my soul resides. It may be a place I visit only in books and dreams. Next on my list are the following from Golson’s recommendations at the end of his book: “The Labyrinth of Solitude: Life and Thought in Mexico,” by Octavio Paz; “The People’s Guide to Mexico,” by Carl Franz, and “Insider’s Guide to San Miguel,” by Archie Dean.

Brenda Sazama, New Brighton


It is difficult to limit the summer reading to just a few books — so many and so little time! Here are a few I enjoyed while being imprisoned in the Minnesota winter:

“Longbourn,” by Jo Baker: “Pride and Prejudice” from the servants’ viewpoint makes for a fun look at the underside of Jane Austen’s not-so-nice Bennett family.

“The Husband’s Secret,” by Liane Moriarty: a mystery with a twist.

“Natchez Burning,” by Greg Iles: first of a trilogy — very exciting writing.

“The Secret of Raven Point,” by Jennifer Vanderbes: The descriptions of an Army field hospital will make you realize the stupidity of war.

“The Secrets of Mary Bowser,” by Lois Leveen: based on the true story of a freed slave in Richmond, Va., who becomes a spy.

If anyone has not read Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” now is the time!

Joan Palmer, Minneapolis


I recommend “Tiny Beautiful Things” for summer reading.

This collection of advice columns by Minnesota native Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling author of “Wild,” truly shines. Her answers are complex, at times painfully honest, but always brimming with hard-earned wisdom.

Far from a frothy beach read, I recommend this for summer reading because later, when you are out on your bike, tending to your garden or fishing at your favorite spot, Strayed’s words will resonate in your head and you’ll find yourself mulling over her advice, thirsty for more.

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