Book Report: What We Read on Summer Vacation

In a continued effort at transparency re: Bostonista’s notentirelyhighbrow tastes, we’re disclosing our favorite summer reads.

Some backstory before the confession: We’re former English majors who somehow never read Anna Karenina (or, um, plenty of other canonical heavyweights.). We feel a fair amount of guilt about this, and therefore keep a bunch of pristine classics on our nightstand. And then we pile other books on top of them, like…

American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld. We love Sittenfeld. We love her wry, razor-sharp observations. We love her funny, straightforward honesty. And we love that her past two books handled coming-of-age subjects with surprising complexity and cleverness.

But we’re even happier that she’s moved on to tackle a more mature protagonist in a more mature book. American Wife, for anyone who managed to miss the publicity onslaught, is an offshoot of Sittenfeld’s minor obsession with Laura Bush. The novel tells the story of a fictional First Lady who very much resembles Mrs. Bushand who loves her husband deeply while hating his politics.

The book easily could have come off as cheap and voyeuristic and gimmicky…but it didn’t. Instead, it’s an empathetic, fascinating, and gorgeously written story about a 30-year marriage. We devoured it in one night.

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown. While avoiding massive Russian novels in college, we read The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Brown’s novel reminded us of a soapier, more summery version of Franzen’s biting social commentary. All We Ever Wanted critiques a certain Silicon Valley lifestyle in which 5,200-square-foot Colonials are average and blowout IPOs catapult regular tech guys to zillionaire status overnight. Against this backdrop, her tale of one family’s implosion is a deliciously fun satire that manages to raise interesting questions about the American Dream.

Next up in our queue: Moby Dick! Or The Middle Place

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