My kids are almost out of school, which means I am trying to cram in as much as possible before that final bell rings. That includes some long overdue posts here on Red Shutters.
I have a bit of traveling during my kids’ summer break, which means I will load up my Kindle with books—including novels from my local library, a great (and free) way to read, read, read without breaking the bank. Are you traveling, too? Or, perhaps you’re hanging out at the beach or sitting by the pool while the kids splash around? Or, are you looking for something to read (or listen to) while you commute to work? No matter how you’re spending the glorious days of July and August, today I have book recommendations for you to enjoy while you’re enjoying the summer.
- Anything by Tana French
In the last six months, I’ve read all of Tana French’s Dublin-based murder mysteries. Reading these books is a bit like being enveloped in a wizard’s spell: you’re uncertain where to look, what to think, or what could happen next. Tana French’s books are filled with evocative language, and she is skilled at layering her descriptions and scene setting with details that may (or may not) help the reader figure out what’s going on in the complex whodunits that she weaves. I enjoyed all of her novels—which surprised me as I’m not usually drawn to mysteries—but if you only have time for one, start with In the Woods, her first (and I think, her best) novel. If you’re hooked, continue on with The Likeness, a book I still keep thinking about even though I read it months ago.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I downloaded The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to my Audible account after watching the trailer of its movie adaptation. My husband listened to it before me (he listens to audio books on his commute to work), and he surprised me by thoroughly enjoying it. When I finally listened to it, I could understand why he was so enthusiastic. The narration of the Audible audio version of this novel is excellent, and had me completely enthralled. The story takes place on the heels of World War II when England is trying to find its way back to normalcy. A young writer becomes interested in the lives of a group of people on the Channel Islands and how they survived the Nazi occupation during the war. The novel is told through a series of letters, and the authors are so effectively captures each person’s voice and point of view. It’s a captivating story about resiliency and sacrifice, and I hope you enjoy it!
- Song of Achilles and Circe by Madeline Miller
I couldn’t wait to read Circe, Madeline Miller’s new book, when it came out earlier this year. My excitement was justified—it’s a terrific novel. Miller takes the tale of Circe from The Odyssey—in which Circe is a witch who turns men into pigs, among other things—and tells Circe’s life story. Who was she? How did she become a witch? Why was she on that island? Who did she love? It’s an engrossing, five-star novel, and I tell everyone who asks for a book recommendation to read it. Then I learned that Miller had written another novel, The Song of Achilles, which, like Circe, takes a story from The Odyssey and expands it into a full-length novel. The Song of Achilles was fantastic. I read it in one big gulp, breathlessly and furiously turning pages. So good—romantic, a bit violent (Achilles is at war, after all), and deeply felt. Read them both!
- Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians, the first in a trilogy of novels by Kevin Kwan, has been turned into a much-anticipated movie starring Constance Wu and Michelle Yeoh that comes out this summer. Since I’m an I-always-like-the-book-better-than-the-movie kind of reader (and since I am planning to see this movie), I took a deep dive into this series. The books—Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, and Rich People Problems—are all over the bestseller lists right now, and it’s easy to understand why. These books are clever, frothy, and fun. My favorite part of the books is Kwan’s footnoting; it’s there he gives the background on what’s going on, translates phrases, and offers up some of the best can-you-believe-this witticisms of the super wealthy world at which he’s poking fun. Also—for those who believe how a book looks matters, the Crazy Rich Asians’ covers are some of my favorite: bright, clever, and perfectly in sync with the words on the page.
- The Immoralists by Chloe Benjamin
What if you know the day you’re going to die—do you think you’ll be able to change the outcome? Or will this knowledge compel you to make choices that fulfill your destiny? These are the questions raised in The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, a novel that follows a group of siblings who are told by a psychic when they will each die. How they respond is a fascinating examination of inevitably, hope, and the ties that bind us together.
Okay, this list is what I think you should read this summer, but what will I be reading? On the top of my list is The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah’s new book (look for more on the blog about this soon); Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, my Book Club’s July pick; and The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber. As always, send recommendations to me, friends! I always love finding out about new books.
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