Okay, so yeah, I’m a little late. It’s August 30, which means, unless you’re one of those people who counts the first three weeks of September as summer — and c’mon, who really does? — this barely counts as a summer reads post.
But I’ll tell you this: August 30 is still technically summer. Anyway, so for most of this summer, I’ve been traveling a lot. We did a two-week stint in California, a few days in AC, another week in the lovely Provincetown, Mass., where my husband Navdeep earned a scholarship to a workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center, an amazing program with some awesome online classes, too. In between work-work, hanging with the kid (who, yes, is still not back at daycare), occasional workshopping (yay for returning to that in September!) and trying to squeeze in some writing, well — I still managed to read! Caught you off guard there, huh? You thought I’d be one of those slackers who didn’t manage a single book all summer. Nuh uh, not me. That would have simply been sacrilege.
So in my signature long-windedness, that’s me saying, yes, I do have summer reads for you! Only one YA, but hey, you’ll cope.
Herewith, the list:
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
For the longest time, my sister (and screenwriting partner) Meena and I claimed that one Kevin Williamson had stolen our “life.” You know, by creating hit teen shows like Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries, which we both read in high school (back in the day, when the books first came out) and thought would make a perfect teen TV drama. Anyway, it turns out we were wrong, because, in actuality, it was one Mindy Kaling who’d been living a parallel life all along — and now she’s documented said parallel life in her really funny, super-nostalgic and very YA memoir. It’s wry, insightful, embarrassing, and rings oh-so-true, especially if you’re a small, hippy brown girl from the Northeast who was pretty book-obsessed and un-athletic in high school, but then used all she learned there in her later work. (Yeah, I’d say that is a pretty accurate description.) Anyway, it’s got plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s a good warm up for Mindy’s upcoming sitcom, The Mindy Project, which premieres in September (which marks the beginning of the FALL).
The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Okay, I really like Jennifer Weiner. Yes, she writes in the much-demeaned chick lit category — which I’ll proudly place myself into — but her work is fun, fast-paced, and frequently insightful. Nothing wrong with that. Many of us could aspire to such success. Anyway, she’s also a very vocal, feisty, no-nonsense woman, and her blog, which frequently calls out the New York Times and other publications on their sexist take on publishing, is pretty awesome. The Next Best Thing, her latest, centers on an everygirl who ends up the head of her own show in Hollywood. Given what I’ve mentioned above, you can see why this was a fun read for me. But underneath the fun, fast-paced read is an examination of the way women struggle to gain and maintain their own power — in the workplace, in romance, in life. Weiner’s got a light touch, but her work isn’t as fluffy as the Times thinks it is.
An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns by John Green
Having read and enjoyed — despite the tears — The Fault In Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, I decided to go back to the classic John Green, perusing his other works, An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns. If you’re a fan, it’s definitely worth revisiting these, which both bear his signature confused-yet-adorable male protagonist, quirky, fun, troubled girls, and twisted, crazy plots that veer off in unexpected directions. Plus, his omnipresent themes of loss, reality versus fantasy, and figuring out who you really are. You may need to keep the tissues handy for these, too, but you won’t use up like three boxes like you did for Stars. Smart, weird, and really fun reads, as expected, from this YA icon. And if you’re a fan like I am, check out this awesome, autographed box set of all four!
Photo courtesy Three Rivers Press