Summer Reading: Three Women Authors With Compelling Stories

August 18, 2009 — In the final installment of UVA Today summer reading suggestions, Carol Wood, assistant vice president for public affairs, suggests a few titles for the waning days of summer.

Her first recommendation is "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova.

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"It is about a woman, a Harvard professor, who gets early onset Alzheimer's, and it's the story of the journey that she and her family take," Wood said. "The person who wrote it has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and understands the complexities so you really feel like you're inside the head of a person who has Alzheimer's. It's compelling reading."

Wood said her next choice, "Olive Kittredge" by Elizabeth Strout, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It's beautifully written, good old-fashioned storytelling, she said.

"Olive lives in a New England town and is a schoolteacher," she said. "This very strong character is the thread throughout the book. She comes to a wonderful awakening at the end."

In "Julie and Julia," Julie Powell writes of how, as a directionless young woman, she decided to cook her way through a year of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and write a blog about the experience. In a new movie of the same title, Meryl Streep plays Child and Amy Adams is Powell.

"I have not seen the movie yet but I wanted to read the book," Wood said. "It's very funny in the beginning, but you get a little tired of Julie. If you get to the middle, then you can sail on to the end."