Summer Reading Guide: Mating for Life

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!

Tags: books, summer reading, travel, vacation, Wellness

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  1. Avatar
    • Cathy C
    • September 13, 2014
    My favourite memory is Bridget Jones in a cabana on vacation in Cuba with my husband and no kids It just seemed so about me!
  2. Avatar
    • shirley reeds
    • September 12, 2014
    Stop,Sit and Think – Written by the man who trained the dogs for the Littlest Hobo tv series in the 1960’s. My mom bought me the book because I was fascinated with the series and where we lived we couldnt have a dog so this was the next best thing for me. It was my first impression of dog ownership that wasnt ownership but of mutual love and partnering together of a dog and a human being. It affected my views on having a dog in my life, no dog houses, no crappy food and how to respect and look after my little buddy as an important being in my life and his. The book influenced me more than any other book I read as a child.
  3. Avatar
    • Carol
    • September 11, 2014
    Going to the library and bringing home a big stack of books and then stretching out on a blanket under one of the garden trees for a good read……ahh, summer doesn’t get any better than that.
  4. Avatar
    • Mary Danieli
    • September 1, 2014
    My favourite memory of reading outdoors is of me taking a library book out to a park near my childhood home and becoming totally lost in the experience of reading. My parents were immigrants whose first language wasn`t English and so I learned through reading.
  5. Avatar
    • Jennifer L.
    • August 29, 2014
    My absolute favourite place to read is on the dock of my parents’ cottage. I grab a blanket, something cool to drink, a hat and a great book and I’m happy.
  6. Avatar
    • rumiko
    • August 29, 2014
    There is something so therapeutic and soul-grounding about nature…the water in particular in my case. I think most people fall into either the mountain or the sea preference for their spiritual connection. So for me, taking a blanket to a quiet beach or a lakeside park to read a good book under a shady tree, with just enough of a cool breeze is the perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon.
  7. Avatar
    • aketch
    • August 27, 2014
    Reading on the deck at our island cottage in Georgian Bay, surrounded by water at 270 degrees, listening to the loons, various flies and birds and the occasional snake slithering by. A magical place!
  8. Avatar
    • Victoria Sit
    • August 27, 2014
    I used to always love taking a stack of books to a nearby park when I was growing up with a blanket and read underneath the shade of a tree.
  9. Avatar
    • Julie F
    • August 26, 2014
    At school in the warmer weather I would go and sit under the willow tree with a good book during recess or study period!
  10. Avatar
    • Mary
    • August 26, 2014
    Reading by firelight while a snowstorm which caused power outages raged outside.
  11. Avatar
    • kristine hibbs
    • August 25, 2014
    Reading out on the deck with warm winds embracing me and the utter quiet of the morning surrounding me.
  12. Avatar
    • mary mary
    • August 24, 2014
    I remember taking books out from the local public library on summer holidays before we went up north so i could lie outside in the sun trying to get a tan on my always pale legs and at the same time read all sorts of different books about exotic people and places, I can still remember how I felt with the cool northern breeze blowing over me , very wonderful memories of those times up north
  13. Avatar
    • Jan
    • August 15, 2014
    My favourite memory of reading outdoors is of a great big oak tree in our yard which I’d sit under for hours while I read and dreamed of being certain characters as a child.

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