Even though I’m no longer doing my self-assigned reading (and so should therefore feel free as a bird anyway to read whatever I please), there’s just something about the long, lazy days of summer that lends itself to allowing myself to, well, indulge a little more in the books I choose. I mean, I pretty much almost always only read books I’m interested in naturally anyway (unless I’m just reading it to cross it off a recommended reading list or for my book club), but in summer, I let myself depart from my usual comfort fare of literary fiction and way too much nonfiction to read stuff that just sounds a little more FUN.
I also tend to use summer to catch up on all the dishy new releases that have come out, which I usually binge on until about September, when I firmly need to take a break from all the contemporary stuff and dive back into some older titles.
It’s all about balance, really.
I mentioned in my last Loving and Learning Lately roundup about some of my favorite summer reading guides that came out recently, and many of today’s titles were inspired by those.
Note: The titles and pictures below are affiliate links through Amazon Associates, which means if you make a purchase through them, I get a small commission on the sale at no cost to you.
This has been on my radar for quite awhile, mostly just because Reichl is one of my favorite writers. This latest offering, which is all about the years she spent as editor-in-chief at Gourmet magazine, promises to be dishy, entertaining, and, as always, full of mouthwatering descriptions of food. Since my hold on this one is thisclose to coming in, I’ll probably be finishing this one first of the bunch! (Note: If you haven’t read her Garlic and Sapphires yet, you really should give it a try. Totally hilarious, and you’ll want to cook yourself up a fancy five-course meal after, to boot.)
Summer’s a good time for branching out a bit in my usual tastes, and this book definitely fits the bill—it’s a historical novel that weaves together three narratives all around the creation of the royal wedding gown of Queen Elizabeth II. I never bought into the whole royal craze (even as a kid, I wasn’t super into princesses or anything), but when friends on Goodreads call this one a “great one to read on vacation” and “fast-paced and interesting,” it sounds like it’s worth picking up for sure!
I’ve heard this is the latest in the series of “up-lit” fiction coming out (such as A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, both of which I loved), and according to Goodreads, it’s “darkly funny and life-affirming.” Basically, it’s the story of a man who has led his coworkers to believe that he lives a happy home life with a wife and two kids…except he goes home every night alone. A new friendship (which has a strong whiff of a possible relationship, too) gives him a chance to escape his loneliness, except it means he must ‘fess up to everything. I was super thrilled when my library agreed to buy this one after I requested it, which means I’ll be first in line once it comes in!
This one doesn’t come out until the end of July, but I’m really hoping to get my hands on a copy when it does! When Abigail Sorenson was 16, her brother disappeared, never to be seen again. In that same year, she began getting chapters in the mail from a self-help manual called The Guidebook, which end up being a much-needed constant in a somewhat turbulent coming-of-age period. Now, twenty years later, she’s invited to an exclusive retreat to learn the truth about The Guidebook. According to Goodreads, this one is “smart and wickedly funny,” which sounds like a great summer read to me. Fun Tidbit: Jaclyn Moriarty is the younger sister of Liane Moriarty, who has published such novels as The Husband’s Secret and Nine Perfect Strangers (both of which I’ve read and enjoyed and would make fabulous summer reads as well).
This is my wild card pick for the summer–I don’t normally go for mysteries OR for wilderness survival novels, but I’ve heard this quick-paced novel about two friends who go on a canoeing trip and get caught in a wildfire is gorgeously written and totally captivating. (It helps that my friends on Goodreads who have already read it have given it five stars!) Note: If you’re on Goodreads, we should be friends! You can find my profile here.
This historical fiction pick is set in the mid-1930’s in rural Kentucky, and it follows the life and mission of Cussy Carter, a lonely librarian who is the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She faces suspicion from her fellow Kentuckians not just for her blue skin, but also for her government-sponsored library mission, yet she is determined to bring literacy and the blessing of good books to all. No one on my Goodreads friends list has read this yet, but from what I can see, the initial ratings are all coming in super high.
I’ve always been a sucker for books with rich descriptions of food and cooking (what can I say? it’s why I created a whole book round-up of novels and books for foodies), and that is the main reason I’m wanting to pick up this debut novel about a daughter (Natalie) who returns home after her mother’s death (whom she hadn’t spoken to in seven years), only to be shocked to find that she has inherited her grandmother’s failing restaurant. According to a local fortune-teller, she must cook three of her grandmother’s recipes before the restaurant will start to turn around, but Natalie is having a hard time resolving her bitter feelings toward her family and community. From the initial reviews, I’m not expecting a plot or lyrical masterpiece with this one, but I AM expecting a heartwarming, fun story with just a hint of magical realism and a bit of a love story. Sounds like solid summer reading to me!
Of all the books on here, this is the one I’m not sure I’m invested in reading yet, partly because I’m pretty over WWII stuff at the moment, and partly because the reviews by trusted Goodreads friends are coming in mixed. However, this book about a journalist and Russian female bomber pilot who join together to try and track down The Huntress, a female Nazi assassin who is in hiding in America, does sound pretty interesting and like it would be a fascinating slice of history. I currently have a hold on this one at the library, so I’ll give it at least a few chapters to see if I want to continue.
I don’t typically go for love stories (meaning, I don’t go for books where a love story is the central plot), but this book has been called a modern Muslim take on Pride and Prejudice, and it just sounds like it could be fun. I’m not expecting a five-star read with this one, but I’m thinking it should fit the “fun, smart, and entertaining” summer bill nicely. Note: If you missed it, I actually did a book round-up of 12 Love Stories for People Who “Don’t Do” Romances, in case you’re interested.
While this summer reading list is short on nonfiction titles (as is to be expected), I love my self-help/productivity/motivational genre too much to totally abstain for the whole season. I’m totally a habits junkie, so when I saw all the stellar reviews coming in for this one, I put a hold on it immediately. The book’s tagline is “Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results,” which, while kind of gimmicky, is a concept I actually totally believe in, so I’m hoping this will help me refresh those important daily habits that are sometimes irksome to keep in place. Fun Tidbit: This one is currently in the top 100 books selling on Amazon at the moment (at #52), so apparently I’m in good company in wanting to read it!
Lisa See is an old favorite of mine, and while most of her books don’t earn five stars for me, she consistently knows how to craft a killer story around largely unknown aspects of Asian (mostly Chinese) history and culture. In this new novel, she takes us to a small Korean island to follow two friends who join the village’s all-female diving collective. The two friends’ vastly differing backgrounds, however, threaten to destroy their friendship and everything they’ve worked for over time. With Lisa See, you have to be prepared to read raw, sometimes brutal descriptions of really hard events, and with this one being partially set in the Korean War, I’m expecting the same. I’ll have to balance what will probably be a slightly heavier read between two lighter ones, I’m thinking.
This one doesn’t come out until July 9th, but it’s one I’m excited about as it checks all sorts of boxes for me—a nerdy main character who actually works in a bookstore, funny awkwardness mixed with a bit of self-deprecating humor, and a plot that’s fun but not fluffy. I’m trying not to get my hopes up *too* high, but I’ll be honest–I kind of can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Next to Save Me the Plums, it’s the one I’m most eager to read this summer.
More Than Enough: How One Family Cultivated a More Abundant Life Through a Year of Practical Minimalism by Miranda Anderson
How could I pass up a decently-reviewed new release about a family embracing minimalism? I just can’t. (See: the huge list of titles I recently rounded up on minimalism and keeping your house in order.) What especially intrigues me about this one is that this family is embracing “practical” minimalism, rather than extreme minimalism, which is something I can get behind. I mean, I’m all for owning way less stuff, but I’m also not going to go down to just one plate, bowl, and fork for each family member, ya know what I mean? Verdict is still out on whether my local library will honor my request to purchase this one, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
What titles are on your reading list this summer? Do share!