When people find out I work at a school, the first question they invariably ask is, “Do you get summers off?”

The answer is no, but that’s OK with me. With the students and most of the teachers gone, the pace slows way down, leaving me to fill my days with planning and researching and working on pet projects I’m too busy to work on during the school year – all things I love.

And it’s at home that I get my real break. As of yesterday, Ruby is at Camp Point Clear for three weeks, and even when she gets back, we won’t have to worry about tardy slips, studying, volleyball games, science projects, or math homework until mid-August. Georgia is at Southern Rep’s theater camp, and although we have to run lines at night to help her prepare for her role as Flounder No. 3 in “The Little Mermaid,” it’s so much better than our school year nightly crush of math facts practice and handwriting struggles.

With all of our free time, Robert and I have been watching “Mad Men” on Netflix, finally catching up on this acclaimed series like 12 years after it premiered. The thing is, though, we get mad if one of us watches it without the other, so it’s something we can only watch together.

Because I guess I secretly hate sleep, I got a puppy, Milo, two weeks ago. He is adorable, but he also sleeps about as well as my children did as babies, which is to say “absolutely horribly and erratically enough to leave me in a nightmarish fugue state much of the time.” He is getting better at sleeping in his crate, and we’re trying to get him tons of exercise during the day, and I assume this won’t last much longer. (I have to believe that to stay sane; I kept thinking Ruby would sleep better “in a month or so,” even though she was probably in second grade before she consistently slept through the night.)

Between my free evenings and my wakeful nights and my marital commitment to not watch”Mad Men” without my husband, I am in desperate need of book recommendations. I truly will read anything you put in my hands – from Pulitzer Prize-winning novels to old Baby-Sitters Club books – but when I was trying to explain the plot of my latest book to Robert, and I heard myself saying, “Well, yes, she’s a pet-sitter, but she also just happens into a lot of danger and intrigue, and you know, it makes sense because she used to be a cop before her husband and daughter got killed …” and saw the corresponding look on his face, I realized I might need to up my standards slightly. (The Dixie Hemingway books are fun, but they’re completely ridiculous.)

Guidelines: I love true crime, but I can’t read Michelle McNamara’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” because I tried to read a preview and couldn’t sleep for about a week. I’ll read romance novels, but not if they’re really G-rated. (I like them at least moderately smutty.) I devour mystery novels, particularly “cozies,” but they can’t be too outlandish. I adore children’s literature, biographies (of non-boring people), and short stories. Next up in my queue is Ruby’s summer reading book, “The Red Bandana,” but after that I’m free.


Please tell me what you’re reading and what I should be reading in the comments.