Sunny skies, less hectic work schedules, longer days and summer vacation plans: all reasons for you to relax alone with a good book. Whether you decide to read poolside when you travel, on the balcony or your backyard, or while sitting on a patio with a coffee or a beer, this four part summer reading guide will make those solo moments much more enjoyable. With the interests of different women in mind the books I review here not only entertain, but also make one think deeply about the life you have built, the world we live in and how the two fit together.
For the Nature Lover: Mating for Life by Marissa Stapley
Mating for Life is a dramatic fiction about a mother and her three adult daughters who strive to maintain meaningful relationships with the different people in their lives (translation: lovers (husbands, boyfriends or men within illicit affairs), parents (long lost fathers seem to be a trend), children (both biological and step kids) and of course siblings. Author Marissa Stapley, a former beauty editor of the Canadian magazine industry who lives in High Park with her two children and husband powerfully communicates this constant and universal struggle—that we all so easily can relate to—through her ability to evoke laughter, anger and tears from her readers.
Despite its generally relatable focus, the woman who embraces nature will love this book the most. Stapley transports the reader through her vivid prose from urban Toronto to a peaceful cottage on the lake in Northern Ontario, the hearth that unites the four central protagonists, Isla, Leanne, Fiona and their mother Helen, several times throughout the course of the story. When I asked Stapley about her book’s setting, she explained that the cottage was inspired by her childhood summers in Muskoka and the annual vacation she takes with her husband and children to her brother-in-law’s cottage each year, which has “a quirky, farm house feel to it unlike any other place.” The natural setting exposes the book’s two opposing, but governing elements we see echoed in its title: humanity’s innate animal instincts and link to wildlife and nature, and our simultaneous aching desire for rich emotional connections with others, the desire that sets us apart from other living mammals. The animal epigraphs that frame each chapter remind us of this concept and continue to haunt the reader throughout.
The strong woman protagonists (yes even Isla, who Stapley explains is the embodiment of what can happen to any woman when she becomes objectified sexually by a man) combined with the message of the empowering potential of maintaining strong connections with our families (particularly our sisters) kept me wanting to read more even after I finished turning the last page.
Want a chance to win a copy of Mating for Life from Simon and Schuster? Simply leave a comment below and share with us your favourite memory of reading outdoors and why it resonates with you. The best answer wins! Plus, be sure to check back regularly for the next installment in 29Secrets’s Summer Reading Guide!