Some recent reads:
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente.
This reminded me a lot of The Wizard of Oz, or maybe Narnia, or The Hobbit. Omniscient narrator who addresses the reader, child on a magical adventure, that sort of thing. It was fun and sweet and I think I finished it in less than a day.
The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman
I think I'm up to Volume 7 or 8 in the comic that inspired the TV show (which we watch religiously). Frankly, I'm not really a fan of the comic book/graphic novel format. I'm sure I'm somehow missing out on the subtleties of the art form, or whatever, but I feel like I'm reading the Cliff's Notes version of the story--sort of a sketchy summary of the depth of story you get in a book or a TV show. Also, I'm terrible at facial identification, so I'm always getting characters mixed up (this happens in TV and movies, too). It's interesting to see the differences between the comics and the show, and I know it's a classic. I'm not sure how long I'll keep up with it, though. Also: even darker than the show. Also: no Darryl. Worth a try if you need a zombie fix during the show's hiatus.
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.
I read Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers last year and liked it, and thoroughly enjoyed Gulp as well. I probably have a high tolerance for grossness in my reading material, but honestly Roach's exploration of her topics (in Stiff, dead bodies; in Gulp, digestion) is so fascinating that you forget it's supposed to be gross. Also, she's a great lover of puns. Perfect pick for armchair scientists and people who like to pick up random trivia tidbits to try out at cocktail parties.
The Nesting Place, by Myquillyn Smith.
I read this book and a week and a half later moved every piece of furniture in our two living rooms and painted a wall that I have hated for six years. Partially this is because her start-where-you-are, it-doesn't-have-to-be-perfect philosophy is inspiring, and partially it's because there was a picture in the book of a room with blue walls and oak trim. (The wall I hated was hunter green, hideous and dark. Unfortunately, the DDH a) likes hunter green and b) insisted he couldn't think of another color that would go well with the oak trim. And since the oak trim is a MAJOR part of the WHOLE HOUSE, I am not allowed to paint it. The picture proved to him that a blue-gray color also looks good with oak trim. He still thinks the old wall was fine. Everyone else agrees the new one is better.)
A Place of Greater Safety, by Hilary Mantel.
Mantel's later novel Wolf Hall is better (and still one of the best books I've read, ever). She's still finding her groove with style and pacing in this early novel, but it still works. I had a hard time finishing it, but I think this has to do with how depressing the events are. I knew very little about the French Revolution, and though of course this is a narrowly focused, fictional account, it's pretty horrifying. This would be a great book club pick; I wish I had someone around with whom to discuss some of the ideas it brings up.
Linking up with Twitterature at Modern Mrs. Darcy, if I remember to come back and link up since I'm a day early. But if you're looking for more suggestions on what to read (or avoid reading) this summer, check it out!