That’s What She Read: Beach reads for school

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C. Jayne Trent

Ah, summer. Vacation, sun, and books; the trifecta of relaxation. How did I spend my summer vacation? Caught up on some reading, I did. Here’s my advice: set up a beach chair on the Quad, pour the iced tea, and relax after classes with one of these book. It’s still summer, right?

Look Me In the Eye My Life With Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

The book to read if you think your family is wacky. Robison is a brilliant, weird, very quirky kid born to dysfunctional, alcoholic and often abusive parents. He can’t make friends, play normally, get along in school or understand emotions. He does love music and electronics and builds a career as a wildly successful rock and roll sound engineer after dropping out of high school and fleeing his unstable home. Robison’s story is at once heartbreaking and hilarious, as he learns to navigate a very alien world and finally discovers a diagnosis that allows him to understand his very different gifts.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

This one I read straight through. It’s a murder mystery, a meditation on aging, love and friendship, and a horrifying glimpse into the tangles and terrors of dementia. Dr. Jennifer White is losing her mind. She’s also lost her husband, who was her primary caretaker and we soon learn, her best friend had been brutally murdered and bizarrely mutilated. Does Dr. White know something about the murder? Is she covering up for someone? Who is her new caretaker, really, and what is she running from? I absolutely guarantee you won’t be able to put this one down until it’s done.

About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look In The Mirror edited by Anne Burt and Christina Baker Kline

I found this one in a marvelously labyrinth-like used book store in Bar Harbor, Maine and couldn’t resist the title. Then I chortled and snickered my way through Kamy Wicoff’s wonderful essay, “Coming Out of the Curly Closet: Confessions of a Blowout Queen.”

Possessed of a most unruly mane myself, I remembered my own vain attempts to tame my hair and look like I thought I should, like the Ideal, smooth and silky and perfect. The time it took to try to be something I wasn’t! How did I ever get the notion that my own look wasn’t good enough? Other essays discuss ethnicity, race, plastic surgery, reconstruction and women’s ideas about self and beauty.

ROSEMARY’S BABY by Ira Levin

A true horror classic I re-read now and again. Stephen King famously described Levin as “the Swiss watchmaker of horror” and this book is his best. Set in 1960’s Manhattan, Rosemary and her husband are delighted to nab an apartment in the Bramford, a huge old elegant apartment house, exclusive and quite desirable. True, the building has a past, but the unsavory events Rosemary discovers happened long ago and couldn’t possibly harm her or her unborn baby – or could they? Levin builds suspense quietly and efficiently; Rosemary’s dawning awareness of the evil surrounding her is chilling, and the ending is truly haunting.