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3 Books to Savor This Summer

By Dorian Martin, I Start Wondering Founder

Remember back to childhood when you’d look forward to going to the library and checking out books that you’d devour during those long warm days? Do you have a recommended summer reading list that you’d work your way through? 

On a similar note, I Start Wondering’s team wants to offer readers our ideas for some great summer reads. These are books with female main characters that we’ve absolutely loved-- and we think you will, too.

Mara Soloway’s Recommendation:

The Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra

A teaser of the book plotline from the author’s website:

The first in a charming, joyful crime series set in 1920s Bangalore, featuring sari-wearing detective Kaveri and her husband Ramu. Perfect for fans of Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Acclaim for The Bangalore Detectives Club

  • A New York Times Notable Book of 2022

  • Nominated for the Lefty and Agatha Awards for Best Debut Mystery Novel of 2022

  • Nominated for the Audie Award for Best Mystery Audiobook of 2022

  • Shortlisted for the CWA Historical Dagger

When clever, headstrong Kaveri moves to Bangalore to marry handsome young doctor Ramu, she’s resigned herself to a quiet life.

But that all changes the night of the party at the Century Club, where she escapes to the garden for some peace and quiet—and instead spots an uninvited guest in the shadows. Half an hour later, the party turns into a murder scene.

When a vulnerable woman is connected to the crime, Kaveri becomes determined to save her and launches a private investigation to find the killer, tracing his steps from an illustrious brothel to an Englishman’s mansion. She soon finds that sleuthing in a sari isn’t as hard as it seems when you have a talent for mathematics, a head for logic, and a doctor for a husband . . .

And she’s going to need them all as the case leads her deeper into a hotbed of danger, sedition, and intrigue in Bangalore’s darkest alleyways.

What Mara says about the book:

“I really enjoy Harini Nagendra’s first two books about this young woman detective, who is a trailblazer for that day and time – studying mathematics, swimming in a bathing suit, and standing up against class prejudices. I appreciate any novel that takes me to a time and place I haven’t read about before – in this case, 1920s Bangalore. The author, who interestingly is a renowned scholar of nature and sustainability, lets us know about both the good things and the problems with life there and then. She has a third book in the series, A Nest of Vipers, that I’m going to read soon!”

Kaye Olsson’s Recommendation:

The Brilliant Life of Eudoria Honeycett by Annie Lyons

A teaser of the book’s plotline from HarperCollins:

It’s never too late to start living.

Eudora Honeysett is done with this noisy, moronic world—all of it. She has witnessed the indignities and suffering of old age and has lived a full life. At eighty-five, she isn’t going to leave things to chance. Her end will be on her terms. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland, a plan is set in motion.

Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of sparkling cheer. All Eudora wants is to be left alone to set her affairs in order. Instead, she finds herself embarking on a series of adventures with the irrepressible Rose and their affable neighbor, the recently widowed Stanley—afternoon tea, shopping sprees, trips to the beach, birthday celebrations, and pizza parties.

While the trio of unlikely BFFs grow closer and anxiously await the arrival of Rose’s new baby sister, Eudora is reminded of her own childhood—of losing her father during World War II and the devastating impact it had on her entire family. In reflecting on her past, Eudora realizes she must come to terms with what lies ahead.

But now that her joy for life has been rekindled, how can she possibly say goodbye?

What Kaye says about the book: 

It was a light, delightful read but also involved some thought-probing topics, such as aging and assisted suicide. The audiobook is best because then you get to hear the British accents of the main characters.”

Dorian Martin’s Recommendation:

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A tease of the book’s plotline from the author’s website:

Divakaruni’s bestselling novel Mistress of Spices (Doubleday/Anchor), written in a unique style that blends prose and poetry, magic and reality, was named one of the top 100 books of the 20th Century by the San Francisco Chronicle. Divakaruni comments, “I wrote the book in a spirit of play, collapsing the divisions between the realistic world of twentieth-century America and the timeless one of myth in my attempt to create a modern fable.”

The novel follows the adventures of Tilo, a mysterious figure who runs a grocery store in inner-city Oakland and uses her knowledge of spices to help her customers overcome difficulties. Tilo provides magical spices not only for cooking but also for the challenges that Indian immigrants in an alien land experience. She develops dilemmas of her own when she falls in love with a mysterious stranger she calls the Lonely American, as now she has to choose whether to serve her people or to follow the path leading to her own happiness. 

The novel was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and made into a film by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Berges of Bend It Like Beckham fame.

What Dorian says:

“I picked up this book soon after it was published in 1997, devoured it, and then kept it on my bookshelf. During the pandemic, I decided to go back through some of my personal favorite books and this is one of them. It offers so much—romance, a window into a different culture, magical realism, a view of the United States from an immigrant’s perspective, and a truly sensory experience from all of those spices. While this has been made into a movie, do yourself a favor and read the book first.”

You can find these books on I Start Wondering’s bookshelf on Bookshop. I Start Wondering will receive a portion through this affiliate program while another portion of each purchase goes to support local independent bookstores.


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