Here's what was on my nightstand last month:
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. This was our traveling book club pick for the first part of June, and the premise immediately intrigued me. Written in the same style as Emma Donoghue's Room or What I Did by Christopher Wakling, the book is narrated by Budo, the imaginary friend of an 8-year-old autistic boy named Max. Because of Max's unique gifts, Budo has outlasted many of the other imaginary friends he knows, but he's still worried the cease of his existence is inevitable as Max grows older. Then Budo and Max find themselves in a situation neither of them could have ever predicted, and Budo learns what being an imaginary friend really means. Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is intense, insightful, and funny; I found myself turning the pages more quickly with each chapter until I finally reached the end.
Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. Jordan bought me this book a couple of years ago after the story was featured on a Dateline episode, but somehow it kept finding its way onto the shelf instead of into my hands. That all changed with Thomas County's One Book project, now entering its second year. The project promotes literacy by encouraging community members to all read the same book during the same period of time; last year's selection was Mitch Albom's Time Keeper, and this summer, our committee has been in the process of selecting the next book. Picking Cotton made the top of the list, so off the shelf it came. I am so glad.
Jennifer Thompson was raped at knifepoint by a man who broke into her apartment while she slept; when it came time to identify her rapist, Jennifer picked Ronald Cotton -- a young black man -- out of a lineup. After spending 11 years in prison for a crime he never committed, Cotton was exonerated by DNA evidence, and two years later, the two met face to face, beginning an improbably friendship. Together, they wrote Picking Cotton, a story of forgiveness, injustice, and grace. I can't recommend this one enough.
My Wish List by Gregoire Delacourt. When the former owner of The Bookshelf recommends a book, you read it. My Wish List landed on my nightstand after Lorna McCollum -- popular past proprietress of the 'Shelf -- lent me her copy, with the strict instruction to pass it along to someone else when I was done. The small book was an international bestseller when it was released, and with good reason. The plot immediately encourages readers to ask themselves: "If I won the lottery, would I change my life right now for the life I've always dreamed of?" Jocelyne lives in a tiny town in France, where she's owned a fabric shop -- and been married to the same man -- for two decades. When Jocelyne suddenly and secretly wins the lottery, she can't decide whether to claim her winnings. The risk of losing it all seems to be, for Jocelyne, greater than the risk of winning it all. This is a quick read both because of the book's size and writing style; book clubs might enjoy discussing this one together.
In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore. My favorite book of the month, by far. I ordered by copy of In Praise of Slowness after seeing it referenced a couple of times in Arianna Huffington's book Thrive; the concept was appealing to me, and as much as I enjoyed Thrive, I really wanted to dig deeper into some of what Huffington had presented. This book was the perfect addendum, and, in truth, I enjoyed it even more than Thrive. Each chapter of In Praise of Slowness offers a look into a different aspect of the slow movement; slow food, slow cities, slow medicine... yes, even slow sex. The whole book is an eye-opening discussion on our relationship with time; what we do with it and why. I underlined and dog-eared my copy to death, then read portions out loud to Jordan, then made Katie read it, too. It's well-written and well-researched, and I guarantee you'll find something in it worth discussing with the people you love.
The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry. Southern fiction fans, here's your recommended read for the summer. The Stories We Tell isn't the perfect book, but it's breezy, ideal for sweltering nights under the glow of my front porch light. The novel dwells on Eve and Cooper Morrison, Savannah, Georgia's power couple, practically perfect in every way. Only, as we all know, nothing's ever as perfect as it seems, and their lives come to a shattering halt when a mysterious car accident brings truth about their life to light. The plot is steady and smart, the main characters intriguing, but the star of the show is really Savannah. I read this book right before my own Savannah vacation, and I loved taking those descriptions with me on my trip. You'll begin the story because of that mysterious car accident; you'll stick around for Savannah.