Full disclosure: I am posting this very late, hence the timeline hinted at in the first paragraph. But I still wanted to post this here even though summer is now over. Mostly because I still haven’t read all of these books… Hope you enjoy!
I am a little bit late in posting the second installment of my summer reading list, considering it is already the end of August. It is a pretty long list, even though I find myself with less time to read these days, so I will consider it a summer/fall list. As of this writing, I have already read a couple of these books and will give my thoughts on those.
I only started this last year but I love this idea of returning back to the summer reading list. It makes me nostalgic for school (never thought I would ever say that).
On a recent trip to Barnes & Noble with my mother, we made a quick stop over at the summer reading list section. I remember when this section used to be a few tables, now it’s almost an entire wall of books. It’s like they just keep adding books to the same list that was there when I was in school. From the classics like The Color Purple and A Separate Peace to new books like Harry Potter and The Fault in Our Stars. My mom and I went through, naming each book that we had read and found a few new ones to put on our to-read lists. It is always a great place to find new books.
Hope you enjoy this year’s installment and find a new-to-you book.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: This was a beautiful book about a family’s summers on their small private island off the coast of Cape Cod and the family dynamics that come into play. I first wanted to read this because of its location (spending all of my summers growing up on the Cape) but found myself loving the story. While it is a bit of a surprise and upsetting ending, it is worth the read.
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: I’m a little late to this train (haha see what I did there… okay that was a bad joke) but this historical novel set around the “orphan trains” of the mid-nineteenth century to the early 1900s that carried abandoned children from the East to the Midwest is right up my alley. I’ve recently realized how much I prefer historical novels as opposed to straight-up non-fiction; I can learn something new about history while escaping into the drama of a novel.
Dear Emma by Katie Heaney: I was first drawn to this book by the colors on its cover (bright orange and sky blue). The story centers around Harriet, who writes for her college newspaper’s advice column as “Dear Emma.” Harriet is dating Keith, who then breaks up with her and starts dating Remy, and then Remy writes into “Dear Emma” and Harriet begins to actually like Remy. It sounds exactly like a rom-com in novel form, one of my guilty pleasures.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: Another one that caught me by its cover (so much for “never judge a book by its cover”), this is a multi-generational novel that takes place in Southern California over the course of 50 years. I love a good family drama and although I’ve never read anything by Ann Patchett, the positive reviews have convinced me this is a good place to start.
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul: This is Koul’s first book of essays but she is well-seasoned having been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Jezebel, to name a few. I will leave it to Jessica Valenti who reviewed this book, “[This book] is an absolutely wonderful, impossible-not-to-love book. Whether writing about race or girlhood, the internet or family, Scaachi Koul’s writing makes each issue feel fresh and newfound. Hilarious but thoughtful, Koul draws you into her life and makes you never want to leave.”
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: I don’t know if there is much more that I need to say about this book. I would be shocked if someone hadn’t heard of this series, especially following the movie adaptation’s breakthrough summer in the box office. I always prefer reading books before seeing the movie versions, so I figured this was a good time as any. Also, I’ve been intrigued by its title and book cover since it came out nearly 5 years ago.
Shrill by Lindy West: I have long been a fan of Lindy West, especially after hearing her story about an awful encounter with an online troll on This American Life. Her writing is funny with a more serious edge and she isn’t afraid to say it like it is. I have already read this book and found myself bookmarking page after page as a reminder of favorite passages or lines. I especially wanted to read this before seeing Lindy speak at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as part of their celebrity lecture series. She was just as captivating in person and had the audience laughing and shaking their heads with incredulity and frustration (the evening’s topic was #metoo) all at the same time. Definitely worth reading or find some of her other writings at Jezebel or The New York Times.
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han: After watching (and re-watching) To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved Before, I wanted to read more by author Jenny Han. The queen of the trilogy, this series follows a teenage girl during the summer when everything in her life changes. A coming-of-age campy teen love story, so far not quite as captivating as the other trilogy by Han, but still an enjoyable (and easy) read.
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande: I first read a piece by Gawande years ago in The New Yorker; a story called “Letting Go” about hospice and end-of-life care in the United States. I absolutely loved this story. Atul Gawande is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston but in this story, he followed a hospice nurse and many of her patients who were dealing with terminal illnesses. I think what I appreciated most about this story, besides Gawande’s powerful writing, was how humbled he was at the work that these nurses did and that he comes to the realization that as a doctor he doesn’t have all the answers. In Being Mortal, he tackles this country’s perception on aging and death. And this book shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life, all the way to the very end.
Last summer’s feminist reading list.