Posts tagged summer reading
What's On Our TBR | Summer 2019
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Heading into June behind the scenes here at The Ardent Biblio was a LOT of discussion about what we wanted our summer reading lives to look like this year. We both pulled a healthy pile from our shelves to focus on, and figured we’d share a little about why we’re excited about them!

Michaela

Apparently this is the year of the short classic for me. I’ve been meaning to read The Virgin Suicides for literally years because of it’s reputation for being pure atmospheric nostalgia; basically Michaela catnip. Picnic at Hanging Rock falls into the same category, and since it was compared to The Secret History, I obviously have to read it. Which, while we’re all thinking about classical Greek, enter Song of Achilles, because after loving Circe last year, I pretty much immediately grabbed this one, and it feels like a great summer book to follow up my reading of The Odyssey. I’m also very interested in re-readiing Travels With Charley with Rikki, in doing some armchair travel to 1920’s Paris via A Moveable Feast, and in picking up House of Mirth after loooovinnggggg The Age of Innocence this past winter! I’ll probably pick up a few contemporary novels as well to round things out, and am especially looking forward to Ask Again, Yes and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, both of which all of instagram seem to be reading and raving about lately. Ask Again, Yes promises really well done generational family drama, and On Earth looks like it’s going to be both absolutely heart wrenching and absolutely beautiful. Wish me luck!

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Rikki

Travels With Charley | John Steinbeck - It’s no secret how in love with Steinbeck I am. I’ve been holding onto a few of his books that I REALLY want to read, and this is finally the summer for this cross country adventure!

We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live | Joan Didion - I’ve read some of Didion’s non-fiction, but am looking forward to this collection of her essays and short stories. She has a way of writing in her stream of consciousness that I find myself tailing like a lost puppy.

Collection of Poems | Rainer Marie Rilke’s - With a constant goal to read more poetry, I decided Rilke was were I’d begin this summer, after reading and loving Letters to a Young Poet.

Selected Cronicas | Clarice Lispector - Another collection of essays I’ve had my eyes on. I rarely stumble across her books in real life, so I’m anxiously anticipating a copy I’ve been waiting for and plan to dive into immediately. This collection, from what I’ve read, is a little different, but exactly what I’m looking for in essays and nonfiction right now.

A Year in Provence | Peter Mayle - I’m ready for some armchair travel, some charm, and fun. Much like Under the Tuscan Sun, I’m ready to be whisked away again into a life governed by the seasons and food and countryside.

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What are you excited to read this summer??

Summer Books + Cocktails 2018
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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support. Some of these books were gifted to us by the publisher.

With summer in full swing, we're finding we just want to be outside with our books, ice cold drink in hand. Can you blame us? We rounded up a few of the books we've been loving lately and paired them with some drinks that match them perfectly. Got a cocktail shaker handy? Let's do this!

P.S. Check out last year's summer books , book flights, and summer cocktails!

 

You Think It, I'll Say It | Curtis Sittenfeld

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Timely and pitch perfect, this short story collection explores the intimate corners of people's lives in a way that is nuanced and relatable. A trendy wine mixed with a jumble of flavors that meld together perfectly? Sounds like the perfect alcoholic embodiment of this book!

 

Rosé Sangria

  • 1 bottle of dry rosé wine
  • .5 cup brandy
  • .5 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 cup melon cubes
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced

Add all the fruit to the bottom of the pitcher. Top with liquors and club soda. Stir, then refrigerate at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend. Serve in wine glasses with ice. 

 

Social Creature | Tara Burton

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Social Creature is one of summer's hottest thrillers and calls for a cocktail that is as sophisticated and trendy as Louise wants to be. We think a classic daiquiri fits perfectly with this novel and could easily be Louise's go-to bar order when she isn't quaffing free champagne. When served in elegant stemware this is timeless sophistication with a touch of glamour; it's not the strawberry pink slushy monstrosity you're imagining, but a drink that is simple, elegant, and not particularly sweet.

 

Daiquiri

  • Crushed Ice
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup

Put the ice in a cocktail shaker, add the rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream | William Shakespeare

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Mortals and fairies, a summer night, an enchanted forest, star-crossed lovers, beauty, love potions, magic flowers, and happy endings all around make this whimsical play one of my favorites. It's the perfect fantastical story to read under the stars on a warm summer evening. Cocktails for this book should be herby, fizzy, and fun: we recommend a rosemary gin fizz.

 

Rosemary Gin Fizz

Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • .5 cup sugar
  • .5 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary

Combine in a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar completely dissolves while muddling rosemary. Let cool. 

Gin Fizz

  • .25 cup gin
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T fresh lime juice
  • .25 cup seltzer

Combine gin, citrus juices, and 2 tablespoons simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, strain into a rocks glass over ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with a rosemary sprig if desired. 

 

Brideshead Revisited | Evelyn Waugh

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Waugh is a gorgeous writer and recounts the relationship between two young men (one of whom is very rich, and very complicated) in the waning days of England's great houses. The book takes you from Oxford, to the English countryside, through Venice, on cruise ships to New York, to Morocco, and back into the "present day" where Charles, our narrator, is a Captain in the British army. Warm, nostalgic, and full of art, love, complicated friendships, grandeur and loss; it's just gossipy and opulent enough, but grounded with heavier themes. A classic Gin and Tonic is the perfect pairing; stiff and simple, yet luxurious.

 

Gin + Tonic

  • 2 oz gin
  • 3 oz good tonic water
  • 1/2 a lime, juiced

Add all ingredients to a highball glass with ice. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge. 

 

Circe | Madeline Miller

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Circe is a reimagining of the classic Greek myth, so we chose a cocktail that incorporates classic Greek flavors and is as yellow as Circe's famous eyes. Honestly, it tastes like a tasty, alcoholic falafel. Something about the herbs and all the botanicals in the gin just mix up nicely together, and give a really mediterranean feel. I guarantee this drink will be on repeat this summer around here! 

 

Cucumber Mint Gimlet

  • slices of cucumber
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1.5 tsp simple syrup
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1.5 oz gin

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint, cucumber, and simple syrup. Fill shaker with ice, then add lime juice and gin. Shake, strain into a martini glass, and garnish with mint. 

 

Everything Here is beautiful | Mira Lee

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We were recently lucky enough to be sent a complimentary box from Bad People Book Club to test out! They design a cocktail to pair with a book and send you both the book and the ingredients (minus the alcohol) with a handy recipe card. We can 100% get behind their mission to encourage a chill night with friends discussing books with a cocktail to match.

The book we got was Everything Here is Beautiful, and the cocktail has some color changing wizardry involved to reflect one of the main character's shifting personality due to mental illness. Pretty cool, right? This was definitely one of the more inventive cocktails we've ever made ourselves, and it was super smooth and balanced with interesting flavors and not too much sweetness. Thanks again, Bad People Book Club!

 

Do you have a favorite drink you like to mix up in the summer? Or a great idea for a cocktail + book pairing?

We'd love to hear!

 

 

 

 

How To Design A Summer Reading Program For Your Kids (Or Yourself) + Printables!

While we are huge fans of our library's summer reading program, and participate every year, designing your own summer reading program for your household gives you the flexibility to focus on your own reading priorities and to offer a truly motivating rewards system in order to meet goals. If it sounds daunting, keep in mind that there are really only two things you need to decide on in order to get going; a tracking system and a rewards system, which you can make as simple or as complex as you like.

Our goal was to design something easy to run that had a big enough payoff to keep our kids really engaged. Trust me, I am the least organized human being on the planet, if I can do this, I promise you can too.

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*some links are affiliate, and we deeply appreciate your support

 

Set Priorities + A Time Frame

Are you aiming to get your kid to spend more time in the pages of a book? Or maybe you'd like them to branch out and explore different genres or you'd like them to interact more with the literary community around you. Whatever it is, make that the focus of your program.  Also set a time frame! We'll be doing ours between June-July, because that's what works for our schedules, but decide what makes sense for you.

 

A tracking system

To keep the playing field level with kids of multiple ages, we are planning to have our kids track time read rather than pages or number of books, because the 7 year old can read about a dozen little chapter books in the time it takes the 13 year old to read a chunky YA fantasy novel. Tracking by time keeps it fair. For my only child, the number of picture books we read would add up too quickly, so time is a better pacing system for us.

Some options for tracking by time: A lined 3x5 notecard used as a bookmark gives them a convenient way to jot down how many minutes they read. You could also use a simple progress chart and have each square count for 20 minutes and give a reward once it's completed. It'd be easy to design a basic one yourself, too (try Canva)! Let the kids color, bedazzle, sticker and otherwise adorn them to their heart's content to make it more fun and personal.

If you'd rather track by the book, or would like your kids to record what books they read in addition to time spent, here are some seriously great book tracking ideas to get you thinking about what makes sense for your family. It can be really gratifying and motivating for kids to physically see how many books they've read.

If you want your kids to branch out into different genres, you could design a bingo card with different genres to cross off. If you want your kids to explore the literary community, a  simple checklist of bookish activities and adventures to complete would be easy to do. If you suck at drawing as much as I do, here are some printable templates for a multi-purpose chart, a checklist and a simple generator for a bingo card. Put whatever system you use somewhere highly visible, like on the fridge!

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A Rewards System

1. Set a budget. If you want to splurge a little, that's wonderful, but there are a ton of free or inexpensive options to consider as well. 

2. Decide if there will be many small rewards or one big reward, and what they need to do to earn it. 

3. Think about what your child is actively into at the moment (my son is SUPER into legos), or think about an experience they'd love to have that would really motivate them. Some options for experiences that we've been considering:

  • A movie night at home complete with snacks of their choice. You could even take them on a special trip to the store to pick out the snacks themselves, or try out a fun new popcorn recipe.

  • A picnic lunch out somewhere awesome with the menu of their choice, or lunch out to their favorite restaurant.

  • A trip to the Zoo or Aquarium

  • Tickets to a play/concert/movie/theme park/museum whatever they're interested in. Check your library to see if you can rent passes to local attractions, or check free admission days for things like museums.

  • Choosing a new decor item for their bedroom. New bedspread, wall decor, lamp, or rug, etc.

  • Sign them up for a class or a lesson they've been wanting to take, whether its violin or drawing, you know your child's interests!

Some smaller reward options:

  • Go out for ice cream, or make sundaes at home!

  • A visit to the local bookstore to pick out a new read

  • A free pass for extra screen time, to skip chores, to stay up late, etc.

  • A small toy they've been coveting

  • Bake a treat together or try out a new popsicle recipe!

  • A new bookmark. You could even find some cute printable ones or design one yourself on Canva.

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Implementation

Whatever you've decided on, set aside some time to explain to your kids how the program will work, discuss rewards, and do something special to kick it off and build excitement. You can have them make bookmarks, personalize the materials you've designed or printed out, color their own library tote bag with inexpensive fabric markers, create their reading trackers, or whatever else makes sense for you. Adjust this to your kids' ages, of course; teens might just appreciate a library trip to stock up or some new stationary to track their reading. 

These concepts work for adults too. Set yourself a goal whether it's to read an hour a day, complete ten books, try a new genre, or go to some literary events. Hold yourself accountable and treat yourself to lunch at that new restaurant, those kick ass shoes, a self care day, a fancy bottle of wine, etc.

 

What We're Doing

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Because we wanted to focus on time read and engaging with a literary lifestyle we designed a simple game board that blends the two. The idea is to complete one square a day, and to mix smaller rewards in, while still having them work toward a bigger reward when they finish. 

We're planning on grabbing some fresh craft supplies like markers and stickers and hosting a little bookmark decorating party for our kids to kick this thing off. We love to celebrate the little things around here, especially when it's book related, and kids really respond when you make the effort! It's an easy way to get them psyched for summer reading.

 

Ideas + Free printables from other bloggers

Mama Loves Best has an amazing guide for helping your kids love books!

Simple as That has a really great printable reading log set.

How Does She has an entire reading program system complete with printables.

Abundant Life has some great ideas and resources.

Another cute printable reading log from Balancing Home.

 

Are you planning on doing a summer reading program for yourself or for your kids? We'd love to hear about it!

 

A List of Summer Reading Programs for 2018!
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It's finally June, which means our kids are either out of school, or about to be out of school, and summer reading program season is officially beginning! We've got four kids between us ranging in age from infant to thirteen, and they are all bookworms. Between buddy reading YA, checking out a million chapter books, and reading aloud, our kids' lives are full of books, and summer is the perfect time to encourage them even further. We updated our list of the summer reading programs we love for 2018, and can't wait to start!

1. Check Your Local Library- Many libraries participate in a common summer reading program, and the theme this year is "Libraries Rock!". This reading program is for all ages, ranging from babies to adults, and our local branch is offering things like zoo passes, library totes, free books, and free bowling just for completing a reading "Bingo" style card. Plus every bingo you get earns entries into a raffle for bigger prizes like restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, passes to local attractions, and more! 

2. Check Your Local Bookstore- Local bookstores are always a great space to check out for book clubs, summer reading programs, author events, and more fun stuff you and your child can get excited about! I'm planning to take my little one on a date to pick out some new books at our local favorite, and we plan to attend a couple events there this summer, too. Bookstore trips were always a favorite summer activity for me as a kid, and I hope I can build my son the same kinds of memories.

3. Barnes and Noble- Kids in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading any 8 books this summer, recording them in a reading journal, and writing about which part of the book was their favorite and why. Once they've completed their journal, they can choose any free book from the list on the back. This is a great way to add to their shelves for sure! This year they also put out some interesting summer reading lists for adults that are worth a look.

4. Half Price Books- This summer, Half Price Books is offering $5 in bookworm bucks to kids under 14 who complete 300 minutes of reading in a month (thats 15 minutes a day!). Download and fill out a reading log and bring it to the store when you've finished. Easy! They even have lists of great book recommendations for a range of ages, if you need some inspiration. For older teens, they're offering bookworm bucks for posting book reviews of selected titles, and it looks like they've wisely chosen mega popular books this year.

5. Books-A-Million- Mo Willems is their summer reading adventure ambassador this summer! Read and record any four titles from their summer reading adventure section and get a free Elephant and Piggie pencil case with pencils. If you have a little one as obsessed with Elephant and Piggie as mine is, this is a great option, plus I really love their selections this year!

6. Design Your Own- If you have the time and inclination, it might be worth it to design something simple for your household. Choose a reward system and a format, and away you go! This gives you the freedom to focus on your own reading priorities with your kids (or yourself!) and choose meaningful rewards. We'll have some ideas and inspiration for you, as well as sharing what we're doing with our own kids coming up soon.

Are you participating in any summer reading programs? Did we overlook some cool ones? Let us know!

Kick Ass Summer Reading Programs

Between us we have three (soon to be four!) kiddos ranging in age from 3 to 12 and we love reading with them. Rikki's oldest buddy-reads YA sci-fi and fantasy with her, and her younger one shares read-aloud novels like Little House on the Prairie and Charlotte's Web, while my toddler demands to be read every book about trucks, bugs, sea creatures, and space we can get our hands on. 

Needless to say, our households are full of busy readers. With summer upon us, we are starting to plan out all of the summer reading programs we can participate in around us! I used to love doing the summer reading program at my local library as a kid, and was a volunteer to run the program there as a teen, so this is such an exciting season of reading for me. We know some of you have kids, too, so we rounded up all the worthwhile programs we could find that had actually cool perks for kids and adults!

1. Check Your Local Library- It looks like a lot of libraries are participating in a common summer reading program, and the theme this year is "Build a Better World". It has a reading program for all ages, ranging from babies to adults, and our local branch is offering things like zoo passes, library totes, free books, and free bowling just for completing a reading "Bingo" card. Plus each card earns entries into a raffle for bigger prizes like restaurant gift cards, movie tickets, a new bicycle, passes to local attractions, and more! 

2. Barnes and Noble- Kids in grades 1-6 can earn a free book by reading any 8 books this summer, recording them in a reading journal, and explaining which part of the book was their favorite and why. Once they've completed their journal, they can choose any free book from the list on the back. This is a great way to add to their libraries for sure!

3. Half Price Books- This summer, Half Price Books is offering $5 worth of their bookworm bucks (in gift card form) to kids under 14 who complete 300 minutes of reading in a month. Download and fill out a reading log (we tend to just log our day's reading right before bed!) and bring it to the store to redeem when you've finished. Easy! They even have lists of great book recommendations for a range of ages, if you need some inspiration. For older teens, they're offering bookworm bucks for posting book reviews of selected titles, in partnership with Penguin Teen, so you know there are some great titles to choose from.

4. Pottery Barn Kids- This summer, Pottery Barn Kids is hosting a book club! If you take your child to 5 meetings and mark it in the provided Book Passport (sounds like they take place every Tuesday at 11am!), they'll get a special gift. Each week has a new theme, and this could be a really fun social activity for your kids' reading lives. Check in with your local store for more specific details.

5. Check Your Local Bookstore- Local bookstores are always a great space to check out for book clubs, summer reading programs, author events, and more fun stuff you and your child can get excited about! I'm planning to take my toddler on a date to pick out some new books at our local favorite, and we plan to attend a couple events there this summer, too. Bookstore trips were always a favorite summer activity for me as a kid, and I hope I can build my son the same kinds of fond memories.

Have you guys found any great summer reading programs for kids or adults? Please share, we'd love to hear about them! 

Summer Cocktail + Book Pairings

We've all had that experience where a book that you've been reading for several days is infecting your brain and mood and you just want a fun, tangible way to connect with it; so what better way to do that then with drink pairings? We've talked about pairing wine before, but if cocktails are more your style, we've got you covered.

I don't have a lot of tolerance for drinks that are anything less than perfectly refreshing when it's hot out; preferably with anything berry, citrusy, herby, or sparkling. That ice cold, fresh, bubbly taste is usually my jam in the warmer months, and these drinks all hit those notes.

Whether you want a cocktail for a book club, or just something festive to sip while you grill, read or eat dinner outside, this list is bound to have something appealing. Whatever your reason (although who even needs a reason???), these are fully tested, and we made absolutely sure they were not only easy to execute, but also felt genuinely true to the books. Also, none of these were pulled haphazardly off Pinterest or include obscure ingredients that cost $20 for one tiny bottle; these are all simple, quick, delicious, and perfectly paired.

The Great Gatsby

Fitzgerald's personal drink of choice was a gin rickey and is one of the few drinks specifically mentioned (aside from the endless champagne) in the novel, so we decided to run with it! Obviously alcohol is nearly ever-present in this novel, and often serves to progress the plot and characters in interesting ways, so it feels quite fitting to sip on this while reading. It's also just straight up refreshing and lovely on a summer evening, so there's that too!

Gin Rickey

  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • .5 oz lime juice
  • Club soda

Squeeze the lime juice into a Collins glass full of ice. Add the gin, the lime half, and top with club soda.


Treasure Island

Okay, really, what else could we go with here other than rum?? I mean really. Treasure Island is a rum-fueled adventure with pirates headed to a tropical island on a quest for buried treasure; it's the original version of the trope. It's an uncomplicated story that deserves an uncomplicated, tropical, rum-laced beverage.

Minimalist rum punch

Combine in a glass with ice:

  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces rum

East of Eden

This novel, set in rural Salinas, CA is rife with farms and fresh produce, which are central to the characters and plot. To capture that old-timey rural farm effect, we chose to spike some fresh blueberry-mint lemonade with a bit of vodka. This was especially wonderful as my mint plant is exploding right now, and what better way to use it?

Blueberry Vodka Lemonade

  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1 cup lemonade

Place mint leaves, sugar and blueberries in a cocktail shaker. Muddle mixture with the end of a wooden spoon until blueberries are broken. Add vodka and ice; shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Divide mixture among two glasses. Top with each with lemonade; stir. 


The Princess Bride

Does this one even need an explanation???? Guys. Goblets. Filled with Rosé (preferably not laced with Iocane). Because it's summer! Cheers!

Which one would you like to mix up for yourself? And what are your favorite summer drinks? We'd love to hear!