It’s the height of summer. It’s hot and sleepy. Maybe you’re going on a vacation, maybe you’re not. But there’s something about midsummer that makes you feel like reading a book (and taking a nap) is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, whether poolside in Mexico – or just on the grass in your own backyard. Every year ‘read more books’ is on my resolutions list. I aim to read one per month which seems like a totally doable task at the time, but somehow life always ends up getting in the way and I am lucky to read 6 by the end of the year. But I’ve fallen off the wagon over the last month or two, so I’m recommitting – starting with my summer reading list! If you need some book ideas for an upcoming vacation or simply just want to read more too, scroll on for a brief synopsis of each book. They range from new to old, nonfiction to fiction. Happy reading!
There There by Tommy Orange
Currently reading! This debut novel tells the stories of a group of “Urban Indians” – Native Americans who live off reservations and in cities, struggling to make sense of their identity. It includes shocking and heartbreaking history of Natives that most of us are probably totally unaware of.
Sweet & Low by Nick White
Another collection of short stories, this time set in the deep South. From podcasters to promiscuous academics, Nick White’s compelling characters are all on the verge of making decisions that could impact the rest of their lives, and dealing with heavy questions of identity and purpose.
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
I’ve been a huge fan of Murakami since high school, but somehow have never made it around to reading this novel. It is harrowed as one of his best works, and like most of his novels is a mixture of surrealism, science fiction and more. Good Reads describes it as “a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II”.
The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich
As a serial multi-book reader, I like to read my entertaining fiction books alongside more educational nonfiction novels like this one, whether history or politics. As a history geek, I love to learn while simultaneously being entertained. The Unwomanly Face of War gives an oral history of the experience of Russian women who fought during the second world war (yes, fought!).
Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez
“Puerto Rican girls are raised to want one thing: true love. Yet they are brought up by women whose lives are marked by broken promises, grief, and betrayal. While some believe that they’ll be the ones to finally make it work, others swear not to repeat cycles of violence. This collection documents how these “love wars” break out across generations as individuals find themselves caught in the crosshairs of romance, expectations, and community.” via Amazon
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
If you like to read books before they become movies or shows, you might want to jump on this one. Little Fires Everywhere is set to become a limited series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, who I can imagine will do a beautiful job of portraying these interesting characters. This novel follows two families living in 1990s Shaker Heights, Ohio, whose lives are intertwined by their children, and explores subjects like motherhood, long-held secrets, and the fallacy of following society’s rules and expectations.
The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
Sometimes you just need a good ol’ page turner. If you were a fan of the movie Gone Girl or the book Girl On The Train, this nail-biting psychological thriller by A.J. Turner is this year’s answer to your literary needs. The book follows an agoraphobic child psychologist who hasn’t left the house in months and sometimes spies on her neighbors. It’s all fun and games until she sees a horrible crime take place, and starts to question her own reality (made worse by her daily consumption of prescription meds with plenty of wine).
Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
Good Reads describes this book as “an unforgettable memoir in the tradition of The Glass Castle about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University”. Westover didn’t set foot inside a classroom until she was 17, and her story is an inspiring reminder that knowledge is, in fact, power.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Weaving together issues of race, family, and violence, this novel is described as “an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle … [it] examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds.”
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
This darkly humorous novel follows an unnamed protagonist who gradually increases her use of prescription medicine in an effort to sleep for an entire year, as a means to skip over the dull woes of everyday life.