Hot Summer Reads: Three Stories of Reinvention

In these tales (two memoirs and a novel), three very different women set out on very different journeys of self-discovery

by Lise Funderburg, Catherine Newman and Rosemary Mahoney
imperfect harmony book cover image

Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others
By Stacy Horn; Algonquin

When Horn's marriage fell apart, she sobbed on the floor of her Manhattan apartment until she remembered one of the few things in life that gave her pleasure: singing. Although she is, by her own admission, a mediocre soprano, she bravely joined an amateur choral society where she has been rewarded—on good days —with "collective ecstasy."  In this joyful and contemplative memoir about the power of singing together, Horn celebrates the transcendent consolations to be found in the act of making song. As a fellow chorister put it, “When the harmonies are just right, it’s like you’ve created a hologram out of thin air.”   — Lise Funderburg

Sea Creatures
By Susanna Daniel; HarperCollins

It will end too soon, but you’ll tear through this utterly enthralling novel anyway. You won’t be able to help yourself. The plot sounds fanciful: While living on a Miami houseboat with her husband, who can’t sleep, and their young son, who can’t or won’t speak, a woman takes a job with a mysteriously reclusive artist. But the story is very real—it’s about love, loss, and longing in their most familiar forms. Brace yourself: you’ll fall hard for the characters, and your heart will break preemptively—even before the hurricane blows through.  — Catherine Newman

To the Moon and Timbuktu: A Trek through the Heart of Africa
By Nina Sovich; New Harvest

In her astute travel memoir, Sovich examines the dilemma so many women face: how to choose between a life of domesticity and one of adventure. Sovich wants what men enjoy automatically in most societies: independence, self-direction, power, respect, freedom and the possibility of glory. "Real men try to get to Timbuktu,” she writes, “and I have always, in my own way, yearned to be a real man." Stifled by her marriage and her job as a journalist in Paris, she sets off alone on an arduous trip across West Africa.  En route she discovers that she also longs for her loving husband and her chance at motherhood. An engaging, suspenseful, deeply philosophical anatomy of the process of making—and making peace with—life's major choices. — Rosemary Mahoney

Next: Books That Will Transform Your Thinking

First Published Mon, 2013-07-15 16:39

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