04 July 2011

Starting from Page 1: Six Summer Picks

It's July 4, which is American Independence Day and thus a day for being with friends and family, grilling, being outside, and watching fireworks. Yesterday, I was thinking about what I might want to read today and on all the warm summer days and evenings of the coming months.

Although some of the books I plan to read in the next eight weeks won't be published until later in the fall, I wanted to tell you about a half dozen titles that are out now or will be by the end of August. One way I choose my next book is by reading the opening lines, and I love it when bloggers share the first sentence or two of their current book. Here's what I read this morning.

Karen White
The Beach Trees
Penguin / New American Library, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780451233073

Death and loss, they plague you. So do memories. Like the Mississippi's incessant slap against the levees, they creep up with deceptive sweetness before grabbing your heart and pulling it under.
Craig Nova
Brook Trout and the Writing Life
Eno Publishers, 2011 (new edition)
ISBN-13: 9780982077146
Outdoor writing / essays
Often the connection between things is not obvious to the eye, and even when it is, it can take years, if not decades, for me to see just what is associated with what. The events of my life and brook trout often meet at the line of demarcation between the world of the fish and the world of the fisherman, between the seen and the unseen.
Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Language of Flowers
Random House / Ballantine, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780345525543
For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake.
Darin Strauss
Half a Life
Random House, 2011
ISBN-13: 9780812982534
Half my life ago, I killed a girl.

I had just turned eighteen, and when you drive in new post-adolescence, you drive with friends.
Amy Hatvany
Best Kept Secret
Simon & Schuster / Washington Square Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781439193310
Being drunk in front of your child is right up there on the Big Bad No-No List of Motherhood. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew it with every glass, every swallow, every empty bottle thrown into the recycle bin. I hated drinking. I hated it . . . and I couldn't stop.
Christie Watson
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away
The Other Press, 2011
ISBN-13: 9781590514665
Father was a loud man. His voice entered a room before he did. From my bedroom window I could hear him sitting in the wide gardens, or walking to the car parking area filled with Mercedes, or standing by the security guard's office or the gate in front.
From the opening lines, which of these would you read first? I'm not sure where to begin.


Michelle 7/4/11, 7:37 AM  

I like this idea! Great way to showase new books you might not be able to review more thoroughly for awhile.

Tea 7/4/11, 7:50 AM  

All of these quotes are soooo poignant. Thank you.

Sheila (Bookjourney) 7/4/11, 7:59 AM  

I love Summer reading! I tend to drift to lighter, summery reads about beaches, friendships... this time of year.

Have an awesome Fourth!

Unknown 7/4/11, 8:30 AM  

Interesting selection! I'm planning to read The Language of Flowers over the summer too. Let's hope that we both enjoy it. :-)

Sandy Nawrot 7/4/11, 9:02 AM  

That's a tough one! I was just saying to myself I would never be able to decide. But if I had to, I guess maybe The Language of Flowers or Beach Trees. Such a good problem to have!

Anonymous,  7/4/11, 9:48 AM  

Wow - That is a tough one. I've already read The Beach Trees, so that choice is out. It's a toss up between The Language of Flowers and Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away (I just think the title is great)

Janet,  7/4/11, 9:58 AM  

I am drawn to The Language of Flowers and also Best Kept Secret (which I've heard many good things about). I plan to try both.

And thank you for book ideas. I have stack from the library and am burned out with the group of women at the beach. Somehow all my new releases picked up seem to be that. Love one or two but then it blurs together so I came here hoping for a change and found it! Thank you!

Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog 7/4/11, 10:14 AM  

HALF A LIFE has been buzzing near my radar for a while, but that first line just sold me. Thanks for the post!

Karen Harrington 7/4/11, 10:25 AM  

These really look interesting...particularly Amy Hatvany's book and Half A Life. Thanks for the list!

Audra 7/4/11, 10:41 AM  

Fantastic idea -- I love this. Best Kept Secret has a kicker of an opening, wow!

Jesse 7/4/11, 10:50 AM  

You have a tough choice! Based on those opening lines, I'd probably go with The Language of Flowers or The Beach Trees. I have most of these on my wishlist, but I had to go add the Language of Flowers! It sounds so good!

SuziQoregon 7/4/11, 10:52 AM  

What a great way to share books that intrigue you. I love this and hope you make it a regular feature. I like Karen White's books anyway, but that first sentence is just . . . wow!

Zibilee 7/4/11, 11:42 AM  

I am really excited about The Language of Flowers too. I hope to be reading it sometime this month. I have also wanted to read Tiny Sunbirds, Faraway. It's been getting a lot of great reviews.

Anonymous,  7/4/11, 11:44 AM  

Nothing better then starting the day with a new perspective and that is what you gave to me on the 4th. Ihave always believed once I start with that first line that is it, no point of return.I also like to not know the entire plot or too much before reading when I can help it.

However, this first line approach is so intriguing. Certainly does not give anything away but sets the stage for tone and feel. I really enjoyed reading these opening sentences.

Thank you for the new view.

bermudaonion 7/4/11, 12:15 PM  

I haven't read any of these, but a couple of them are on my radar. I'm hoping to get to The Language of Flowers soon.

JoAnn 7/4/11, 12:28 PM  

So many great choices.... think I'd choose The Beach Trees.

Anonymous,  7/4/11, 3:20 PM  

From those lines alone, I would pick Half a Life. That's an amazing first line. I love how this is how you pick the occasional book :)

Meghan 7/4/11, 3:51 PM  

This is an awesome post, I can safely say I wanted to continue reading each of these books. And I hadn't heard of a few of them before, so thanks! I think The Language of Flowers is the most appealing to me.

Pam (@iwriteinbooks) 7/4/11, 5:09 PM  

Mmmm some REALLY great stuff, here! I really hope everyone out there loves The Language of Flowers. :O)

Beth Hoffman 7/4/11, 5:44 PM  

Such great lines! I love this feature.

I've read The Language of Flowers as I was asked to offer a blurb for the cover. The others sound so good too. Impossible to pick!

Beth Kephart 7/4/11, 6:00 PM  

I can't wait to hear what you think of Half a Life (which has a beautiful new cover since I read it. Your other picks are gorgeous, too.

You have pretty terrific taste.

Literary Feline 7/4/11, 6:27 PM  

I like sharing first sentences of the books I read too. The best are the ones that grab you right away.

Kwee Cats and Art 7/4/11, 7:48 PM  

I love the quotes. And I like the way you did this. It really caught my attention.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 7/4/11, 9:35 PM  

Love this feature - great selection! I've already read two of your picks (THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS and TINY SUNBIRDS) and hope to get to HALF A LIFE soon ... I think you hit some great titles.

Robin M 7/4/11, 9:55 PM  

The Beach Tree's jumps out at me and that's the one I would start with. The Language of Flowers a close second.

BookGeek 7/5/11, 11:07 AM  

"The Beech Trees" first lines are still lingering on my mind. Start with that one!

Andi 7/5/11, 11:16 AM  

Wow! The Language of Flowers blurb grabbed me straight off. Definitely intend to investigate that one more.

Dorte H 7/5/11, 4:24 PM  

I also like this idea.

Based on these quotes, I am most curious about The Beach Trees and Far Away. Perhaps also Half a Life, but I am not so certain about the language after so few words.

Well, if it is a brilliant story, I am sure I will hear about it eventually :)

Marg 7/5/11, 5:13 PM  

I really liked Tiny Sunbirds when I read it.

Anonymous,  7/5/11, 6:43 PM  

The Language of Flowers sounds interesting!

David Abrams 7/5/11, 7:33 PM  

Though I like the opening of "The Language of Flowers," I would reach for Darin Strauss' "Half a Life" before anything else. But then again, I'm a big D.S. fan.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 7/5/11, 9:55 PM  

I have about half of these on my shelves, and I am looking forward to them. The Beach Trees has to be a perfect summer read. I enjoy White's stand alones.

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