Summer Reading

I’ve been reading a lot this summer. I’ve read some things I wouldn’t recommend (Paula Hawkin’s—author of The Girl on the Train—new book really bummed me out) and some stuff you already know to read (Grisham’s latest isn’t great, but it’s not terrible and read Big Little Lies before you watch the HBO series). But here are five favorites from the last few months:

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This novel jumps around time-wise—skipping entire decades without reference—and there are tons of characters, but you feel invested in all of them. It feels true to life in a lot of ways—especially the broken pieces after divorce. It’s not a happy or a sad story necessarily (and it’s definitely not fast-paced), just a beautiful story about a family. The author’s subtle descriptions of place and time—from summers in 1960s LA to rural Virginia—were my favorite part.

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The author of this novel about immigration and refugees is Pakistani and while the novel is (obviously) fiction, it hits uncomfortably close to reality with the current Syrian crisis. Many parts feel fantastical, while others feel as if they could be autobiographical for an actual modern day refugee. It’s insightful and eye-opening. And it often read like scenes from a movie, so I’m really hoping someone turns it into one.

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This is your eerie summer beach read. It’s a bizarre thriller that takes place in London and is full of twists and turns. It’s the kind of psychological page turner that’ll keep your attention and should probably be followed by something light and fluffy.

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Speaking of light and fluffy, for the most part this book falls right into those categories. Sure, there are some twists and some intrigue and a little bit of sadness, but this novel keeps thing pretty upbeat. It’s the story of a self-described boring British woman who moves to the South of France and becomes immersed in a mystery around perfume and  aristocrats, with a love story thrown into the mix. I read this when I was on a trip to Tuscany, which is cheating. Because everything is better in Tuscany. But if you happen to be traveling to some spot like Tuscany or the French Riviera, this is the perfect companion for your trip.

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This book was published in 1989 and was an international bestseller, so there’s a good chance you’ve already read it. And a television series based on it was released in 2010, so you may have actually watched it. I had done neither and now I don’t know why I waited so long. I loved this book in general—its stories and characters, set in the 12th century, are compelling and fascinating. It’s not out-of-this-world writing, but the storytelling is just amazing. And this summer I’ve had the chance to visit a few European cathedrals (which is what much of this book centers around) and all I could think of was this novel. I really loved it. Read it. (Tip: Read the Kindle version. This guy is like a thousand pages.)

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