If you’re like me, the combination of social distancing and summertime means you’re doing some extra reading. With this in mind, I’ve shared a few of my top recent picks below.
Before I get to those though, I did want to mention a few others: If you’re looking for easy, lazy beach reads, Emily Giffin’s The Lies That Bind can be finished in a few delicious hours and Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer is fun and happy.
There are several books on the current bestseller list that I’d skip—namely Elin Hilderbrands’s 28 Summers (no thanks on a depressing read about a decades-long affair) and James Patterson’s The Summer House, which is not really by James Patterson and it shows.
(Sidenote: What’s with all the books with summer in their title this summer?) Anyway, on to my recent favorites list.
There’s a lot of controversy around this book primarily because there are some who claim that the author is capitalizing on immigrant trauma. I think it’s important to be aware of this before reading this novel. But I also thought this was the best book I’d read in a long, long time. It’s a gut wrenching story that’s beautifully written and a serious page-turner. I also think it brings much-needed attention to an important topic. Does it do it in a dramatic Hollywood-esque fashion? Sure. But if that’s what it takes to humanize Latin American migrants for white Americans—and, ideally, lead to a more compassionate approach to our borders—then I stand by saying I really liked this book.
Big Lies in a Small Town
I always love books that shift between the past and present day. (If you also enjoy this, I strongly recommend everything Kate Morton has ever written.) This book moves between 1940 and 2018 in a small North Carolina town. It’s a cool storyline about a part of history I knew nothing about—post office murals as part of the WPA after the Depression. It has fun plot twists and turns, but it’s the memorable characters that make this story.
The Night Tiger
It took me awhile to get into this one. There are a few different storylines that weave into each other, and I was several chapters in before I really understood the characters. I ultimately loved it though. It’s the story of Ji Lin, who secretly works in a dance hall and Ren, a young houseboy in search of a severed finger—and, of course, a deadly tiger. It takes place in the 1930s in Malaysia and creates really beautiful images of lush jungles and whimsical dreams.
I really thought this book would be a fun, easy read to lump in with other summer chick lit. But this one has stuck in my head and it’s entirely because of the setting. A large portion of the book is set in an old mansion on the banks of Lake Tahoe, and the author does such a good job of painting the picture of that place that I half feel like I took a trip to Lake Tahoe this summer. (Side note: This is one of several books I’ve recently read where a main character is an Instagram influencer. Is this a trend now?)
I realize that no one would call Nora Roberts sophisticated literary fiction, but this book was really fun. Like, if a book could be warm tortilla chips, fresh guacamole, and an icy margarita by the pool, this was it. Sometimes Roberts can get pretty cheesy and too romantic for me, but this didn’t feel that way. It checks all her usual boxes—happy and wealthy family, beautiful people, mild intrigue, gorgeous setting, and a wholesome story. It’s the light and fluffy kind of thing we all need in 2020.