Originally published in the Naples Herald in my Life with Moxie column
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.” - Ernest Hemingway
In an age of constant distraction it has seemingly become a privilege to allocate a block of time for the pleasure of reading. With reading affording us long-lasting enjoyment paired with an inexpensive price-point to entry, the return on investment is immeasurable. At Life with Moxie, we believe that harnessing time to do what brings you joy should be prioritized! Fortunately, if there is any time of the year, summer lends itself to this opportunity. Honor the smell of flowers blooming on a breezy porch swing and a tall glass of lavender lemonade, spread a blanket under a tree with a baguette and glass of wine or simply snuggle into the corner of your couch with a fuzzy blanket and Jasmine tea and get comfortable- you’re going to want to stay a while.
These are just a few of my favorite hand-selected treasures to escape with; to light a fire; to let you feel; and to remind you of what you are made of. Enjoy!
1: Marlene, A Novel of Marlene Dietrich by C.W. Gortner
“The rags-to-riches story of how this brilliant, mercurial, self-created woman became a legend” - Christina Kline. Gortner has one of the most powerful commands of the English language that I have ever read. This is a deliciously alluring look at a very historic moment in time through the eyes of a legendary, seductive and ambitious woman of grit.
2: Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
A lighthearted memoir chronicles the author’s move to the U.S. in 1971 at the age of 7 among the antics of her extended family. Combine that with her enthusiastic embrace of America and her wry sentimental humor makes this book hysterically funny. I chose to read this book on an international flight. Within the first two chapters I had ended up laughing so hard (church-style uncontrollable laughter) I had to put it away. After three future attempts on the same flight, it was finally completed, but not before several more inappropriately loud outbursts of laughter and it had been passed around the entire cabin so others could get the title of the book to order for themselves.
3: Perfume, a Story of Murder by Patrick Susskind.
Set in 18th century France, an extraordinarily gifted apprentice perfumer becomes so obsessed with a single scent that he must capture it in perfume. The extraordinary details of the environs that Susskind captures will leave you as satisfied as if you’d taken the journey yourself… and you will be noticing every nuance of every smell for weeks after reading.
4: Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence.
The most famous (or infamous - it was banned until 1959 in the U.S. and 1960 in England) and last book of D.H. Lawrence offers intoxicating prose about the most intimate moments and circumstances of being human in post-WWI industrialized England. The book addresses individuality in conflict with civilization. It's as relevant now as it ever was. Once considered offensively immoral, you’ll easily find a more repulsive replacement at any grocery store checkout lane.
5: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.
Set in Bombay, India, this gripping first novel is an exceptionally visceral journey through crime, passion, loyalty and chaos on a path toward redemption. It contains more sensory richness than seems possible from a book. I was hooked at the first sentence. A rare and very epic read by a little known genius.
Have ideas you’d like to add to the list? Need more suggestions? Let me know!
Julie Koester is CEO of Life with Moxie, a Lifestyle Revolution Company www.lifewithmoxie.com and Host of Life with Moxie Radio, Saturday’s at 1pm on 98.9 WGUF in Southwest Florida. You can reach her at Julie@lifewithmoxie.com
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