Growing up, I was quite the book worm. I loved reading more than watching television, and I actually looked forward to checking off summer reading lists, while my peers typically dreaded doing any work during the sunnier months of the year.
This summer has definitely been the weirdest yet. We’ve now been in quarantine for almost half a year, and it seems to me that all the days, weeks and months have blended together into one big, boring span of time. Thankfully, we have books!
I got back into my love for reading during a family trip to Florida (don’t worry – we stayed safe and distanced from others as much as possible), when I realized I needed more than just Kygo’s music or another mystery podcast to entertain myself during tanning time. That was my first trip to Barnes & Noble, and I’ve had about three more since then.
Here are my top reading recommendations from Summer 2020.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Having been out of the reading loop for years at this point, I didn’t realize that this novel by Delia Owens has held the throne of bestsellers for quite some time. I could read this book over and over again and still never be disappointed. Owens covers it all – complicated family relations, romance, mystery, science (as a marine biology nerd, I was hooked) and isolation – a theme that I think hits home for all of us at this time. If you haven’t read it, head to the closest book store or order online – whichever is the quickest way to get this literary masterpiece into your hands.
This mystery novel is a fantastic beach read! It tells the story of a young girl that mysteriously disappeared on an island vacation with her family. Each chapter demonstrates the POV of a different character – most following the girl’s younger sister and her life after that devastating trip, as well as one of the men caught up in the girl’s disappearance, while the in-between pages cover the insights and traumas of side characters you wouldn’t have even given a second thought. Overall, this novel by Alexis Schaitkin covers some very emotional topics in a wide variety of viewpoints and settings – it’s certainly not your typical mystery read.
I read various reviews of praise for this debut novel by Naoise Dolan, but I was not as impressed as I flipped through the pages as these reviews had set me up to be. The book unravels the story of a young Irish woman teaching English in Hong Kong, who finds herself in a love triangle with a wealthy businessman and fascinating female lawyer. There’s a lot of potential there with the pressing topics of sexuality, culture and wealth, but I was disappointed that the plot itself seemed to lack any real adventure. I still recommend the read for any fellow book worms, as it’s quick and easy, but I am curious if others share my same sentiment.
I was not really sure what to expect with this book by a physic medium, Laura Lynne Jackson, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I uncovered. Jackson covers various short stories of connecting with loved ones, friends and acquaintances that have ‘passed’ over to the other sign. She also goes over how we each can learn to trust our own intuition and look out for signs sent by the Universe. While I was a tad skeptical at first, I often found myself teary eyed and inspired by the many heartfelt stories included in every chapter. By the end, I realized I had come across a novel that could seriously help people turn loss and grief into hope and reassurance – I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, since it is inevitable that we will all have loved ones who pass.
The Vanishing Half
Britt Bennett did not disappoint in her second big bestseller. “The Vanishing Half” tells the story of two Louisiana twins separated as teens. One twin continues to pass as white for the rest of her life, establishing a wealthy life with her family in California, while the other twin returns to their mother in their hometown after facing several obstacles trying to build a family of her own. The plot is anything but dull, and the characters have such interesting personalities, aspirations and overall story-lines. Once you pick this book up (which I obviously suggest you do), it will be hard to put down. Even by the last page, it was hard for me to part from this marvelous summer read.
Jennifer Weiner is an incredibly talented author, and I am so very grateful that I unintentionally grabbed “Big Summer” off the shelf for purchase. This novel tells the story of a rocky friendship between plus-size influencer Daphne and her skinny rich high school bestie, Drue. After a pretty terrible falling out, Drue ends up begging Daphne to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding with a famous reality star in Cape Cod. Because I have never really had to worry about dieting or losing weight, reading in Daphne’s point of view has completely opened my eyes and heart to another perspective I previously had given very little, if any, thought. Body image, social media and wealth (or the lack thereof) are all serious contemporary themes that everyone has their own opinion about, but very few of us give energy to seeing these things from another angle. Reading “Big Summer” is a great start to doing just that, and pondering what really matters in this life, where we often find ourselves seeking approval (online and off). It’s going to be hard for the next novel to top this one.
I plan on editing this post with any additional books I read for the remainder of the summer.
Please comment any recommendations you have, I’m always open to suggestions!