BY AMANDA ANDERSON MATTHEWS
Sweet Owen Contributor
Are you looking for fiction to add to your summer reading list? Amanda Anderson Matthews provides her top-two novels to take along on your 2023 beach vacation.
In her debut novel, "Lessons in Chemistry," Bonnie Garmus takes readers to the fictional post-war era town of Commons, California, where chemist Elizabeth Zott finds herself navigating a male-dominated world. Everyone knows a woman's place is "in the kitchen," where Zott reluctantly finds herself, except hers is a fake kitchen facing a live television audience. As the star of "Supper at Six," Zott dishes out recipes with a scientific flare, encouraging her predominately female audience to challenge the status quo while managing sudden tragedies and revelations within her personal life.
As someone who doesn't read a lot of fiction, I was completely absorbed in this story. The characters are engaging; even the dog has a depth of personality that sucks you in—especially the dog. The story made me laugh, made me rage, and punched me in the gut, aching for the characters as they navigated the terrible situations and incredibly loving and tender moments.
I definitely judged the book by its cover, thinking it would be a cheeky rom-com, chick-lit book. It was not. Will it appeal to a male audience? Probably not. But it was a much smarter book than I was expecting. We are given a strong, smart, stubborn, and flawed female protagonist making her way in the world the best way she knows how for her and her daughter.
I recommend this book with the advice of not overthinking it. There are looming questions for me regarding the book's accuracy, but at the end of the day, it's a work of fiction, and I was wildly entertained. I'll not worry too much about whether the author did a bang-up job researching every detail. It's fine. She won me over with her exquisite characters and deft storytelling. Put this on your reading list this summer. You won't be sorry.
"Fairy Tale" by Stephen King is the story of Charlie Reade, a special young boy, Mr. Bowditch, a cranky old man in need, and his dog, Radar. It's the story of an unlikely friendship, Charlie's journey to save Radar's life, and in order to do so, another world.
This is a book to read if you are looking for an introduction to Stephen King. He's not for everyone, to be sure. After I read this book, I immediately recommended it to my fantasy-loving husband because it is a break from his traditional tales and is a nod to fantasy and fairy tales.
Fairy Tale will appeal to folks who love adventure stories and hero quests. There is suspense, much like in any Star Wars story, our hero comes up against adversity, but terror is absent. If you have avoided Stephen King in the past because of his content, this is an excellent introduction to his writing. King is a master storyteller, and this book is no exception. If you enjoy books or movies like The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, His Dark Materials: the Golden Compass, this book will appeal to you.
I have been recommending this book to people left and right because it's a great way to read Stephen King if you don't like scary stories. King is one of my favorite authors; whenever I think he is a good fit, I recommend him. In the introduction to the novel, he writes that he was attempting to write a book that would make him happy during COVID-19. He refers to many of his favorite stories and things that bring him joy in this book. He writes his own fairytale. This is a hero's journey written by a master that won't disappoint.