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May 22, 2009

Holiday Weekend Reading

Posted by carol
One of the things I love about summer holiday weekends is deciding what books I'm going to read. Here are two suggestions for Memorial Day reading, one from me (The Elegance of the Hedgehog) and the other from contributing editor Shannon McKenna Schmidt (The Wildwater Walking Club). And they both would make excellent discussion picks for your book club. What are you reading this weekend? Share your selections in the comments section.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Recently I visited Word, a bookstore in Brooklyn, New York, where I had a wonderful time browsing. I left with a copy of Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog from Europa Editions, which publishes English translations of European titles (this one from the French). The author had been at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books last month, and after her panel there was a long of people who wanted their books signed by her.

Set in a Paris apartment building, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is about two unlikely kindred spirits: a concierge who hides her intelligence behind a crass exterior and a 12-year-old girl who has decided to end her life on her next birthday. It has received terrific reviews, as well as word of mouth, and I’m looking forward to checking it out for myself. I also just learned that a new book is due from Muriel this fall, Gourmet Rhapsody, which is a novel translated from the French about the greatest food critic in the world.

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

After Noreen Kelly is downsized by both her employer and her boyfriend, she dons a pair of sneakers and hits the pavement. She and her neighbors Tess and Rosie walk and talk, getting fit and sharing secrets. I've been saving The Wildwater Walking Club for Memorial Day Weekend --- the unofficial start of summer and the perfect time to indulge in one of Claire's novels, which are guaranteed fun, smart reads with a little sass thrown in. And what's more, even though I'm staying put at home this weekend I can live vicariously through the Wildwater women, who head out on an excursion that's on my own travel list --- a road trip to a lavender festival.

A discussion guide for The Wildwater Walking Club is available on Book clubs certainly have the talking part down, but if you'd also like to lace up your sneakers and start walking, check out Claire's Walking Club Guide.