One of the questions I get most often from my friends, family, and you online pals is, “What should I be reading?”
Well…nobody told me that when I had Virginia I’d never be able to sit and binge read through a summer thriller like the days of my youth.
Just kidding, everyone told me this and I foolishly decided they were nonsensical and w-r-o-n-g.
Oh my sweet momma friends, how right you were.
On the rare and sweet occasion that my littlest decides to bless her mother with a precious nap here is what I’m reaching for this summer–or what I snagged into my hands over maternity leave!
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
If you were every book-loving human being in the last two years you likely read The Girl On The Train. While I can’t speak to the film adaptation, I can tell you that TGOTT is a book that will be in my husband’s beach read bag as we prepare to vacate for a week! I am always cautious to pick up any second novel by an author that I love so much, but after a lot of back and forth I finally picked up Into the Water and read it on my Kindle a few weeks ago. I.Loved.It. I think that while Hawkins’ first book left me wanting more, this one really stuck with me. You meet Nel, who is a single mom to a little girl and found dead. Her daughter goes to live with her sister–who becomes obsessed with figuring out the death of Nel and finds out there is way, way, way more (think more bodies–more) in the entire story than she originally believed.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I can’t remember if it was my fellow book hearted lovers Rebecca, or Jamie were the one to tell me I needed to read this but I’m really glad to whomever put the bug in my ear. Personally, I love finding a young adult novel that speaks eloquently to the struggles and trials that young adults are actually tangibly having to deal with in real time. That’s this book. Tackling the difficult topic of police brutality from a very different point of view, one told from a barely sixteen-year-old girl who has been personally touched by adversity. Star Carter is a first-hand witness to watching police shoot her best friend, Khalil, who was entirely unarmed and is left to deal with insane media portrayal that Khalil was some type of thug that “had this coming” his way. Last summer I really loved All American Boys which tackles a similar subject set, but I really felt like The Hate U Give was a different take. The Ebonics can be a little tough to read through until you get into the thick of the book–but it’s a must read! I’m unsure if a book since The First TIme She Drowned has earned as many lines pulled into my book journal as this one. Some personal favorites for you to look forward to:
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
“At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.”
and my personal favorite…
“Funny. Slave masters thought they were making a difference in black people’s lives too. Saving them from their “wild African ways.” Same shit, different century. I wish people like them would stop thinking that people like me need saving.”
Superficial: More Adventures From the Andy Cohen Diaries
So it’s no secret I’m a Bravoholic happily in the throws of my addiction. It’s also no secret I’ve only liked about seven audiobooks in my entire life. I will forever buy Andy Cohen’s books in audio for the rest of my entire life. Listening to an Andy Cohen audiobook is like being in a special club. He makes asides to you about how he’s sipping hot tea and water while losing his voice to record the audiobook, and listening to his impressions–bless his heart for trying–are even more hysterical. If you’ve ever read the Warhol Diaries this is even better. He has dinner with SJP and Kelly Rippa, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting right there. Some of my all time favorite parts of this book are when Andy tells you about the Satan tailor that won’t let Wacha come into the shop, so he asks a fan (mind you–in a random part of NYC) to please hold Wacha on the leash outside so he can go get his outfit taken care of. Then the fan asks if he can take the dog to show his friends and ANDY LET HIM. Just listening to it gave me secondhand anxiety. It’s laughing out loud funny, and his Cher impression will make ou laugh until you cry. Even my husband, a self-proclaimed Bravo hater, got into my vehicle recently when this was playing and said it was “actually really funny, we can keep listening to it.” so there’s reason enough you need this as a fun read this summer.
And We’re Off by Dana Schwartz
If you want a sweet beach read this is a good one to add to your list. I love Jennifer Weiner for beach ready books and when I read her description I knew I wanted to read this. To sum it up, Nora is an artist. She gets sent on the type of trip we mortals only dream about by her grandfather. He sends her to travel Europe, stopping to take the time to paint some pieces at each stop to send home to him. Nora’s mom is really overprotective and seriously almost stops the trip from happening until at the last possible moment she decides Nora can go–if she can tag along. It’s a sweet story of a mother and daughter becoming friends and for once wasn’t a beach read that required me to have feelings for a fictional male character.
Alex & Eliza, A Love Story by Melissa De La Cruz
I can’t be the only woman that can rap the entire Hamilton soundtrack reading this list, right? Alex & Eliza follows all of my requirements for excellent historical fiction. A great couple to read about? Check. Period appropriate costumes and well-written scenery? Check. The way that Melissa De La Cruz imagines the courtship between Alexander and Eliza is so perfect. I actually ended up reading this one in almost a day, because it was so lovely and easy to read. Unlike the musical, I’ve come to adore this story spends some more time focusing on Eliza’s family versus her soon-to-be-husband’s trials and hardships working to elevate his status. Sometimes the Amazon “users who bought this also bought…” suggestions aren’t all bad!
How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
When I was in the tenth grade my friend handed me a copy of A Million Little Pieces from the Oprah book club. What can I say? We were super self-aware teens, I guess. I loved the story of the addict in recovery dealing with piecing life back together. Honestly, I re-read the novel again after college when it was sitting on my childhood bookshelf and still really liked it. I have a hard time reading about addiction and the mess it can leave in the wake but I genuinely loved this memoir for that reason. Cat Marnell talks really openly about her life as a major pill-head and addict. Mostly, she was hooked on Adderall. I think part of the reason that I loved this super honest portrayal of addiction is because you can’t realistically expect, or hope, that the ending of the book involves with her getting clean. She shoots it straight, and doesn’t sugar coat how hard but also at times gratifying being an addict would feel.
Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco
My biggest regret is that I didn’t buy a hard copy of this book, and instead I listened to it in audio. While Alyssa’s voice was soothing and honestly really enjoyable to listen to–the hard copy has so many awesome candid pictures of her time at the White House with President Obama and I really missed seeing that in the audiobook.
From getting a tampon dispenser installed in the West Wing, to teaching me what having IBS on Air Force One would be like–I absolutely LOVED this book. Personal stories about her cat and hilarious stories like the time she stole a magazine from Buckingham Palace had me laughing out loud during my hour long commute daily. One of the things I really took away from this book was that self-care isn’t just hard for me. Managing anxiety and taking the time to love and care for yourself is something that at the time I really needed to hear was OKAY, and in some weird way I got that from this book. We can’t take care of the President’s schedule (or a sleepless three-month-old at the time) without taking care of us, first.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
As a new mother this book was haunting. It’s an amazing thriller that will leave you thanking your creator that this didn’t happen to you and your husband.
You meet Liv and Nora who decide to plan an amazing trip of a liftime with their husbands and children. Their children vary in age between six to eleven, and are thriving on the newfound relaxed mood their parents are living in as well as their recent independence. The family takes an ashore adventure and the children disappear. They’re gone.
The thing that I think was most haunting about this novel for me was the way in which it is told. You read from the perspective of not just the panicked adults, but that of the children. As the adults begin throwing blame first from each other to themselves and the children realize they have a scrappiness they never knew they were capable of possessing.
What’s on your summer reading list? Share it with me!