Summer reading! That phrase used to bring me such anxiety in elementary school as I spent the last few weeks of summer break working my way through whatever books my teachers assigned. But now, leisure reading is one of my favorite things to do during summer break. If you are looking for somewhere to start your summer reading, here are a few books that I have enjoyed or are on my book list for this summer:
One True Loves and Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
These two romance books are the definition of beach reads. One True Loves tells the story of Emma, whose high school sweetheart/husband, Jesse, disappears in a helicopter crash, and in working through her grief, Emma falls in love and gets engaged to a new man, Sam. The big twist? Jesse is found alive. The story flashes back and forth between Emma’s high school years with Jesse and her journey of finding love again in Sam, all culminating in the choice of which man, and which version of herself, she wants to commit to. I know it sounds cheesy, but trust me, this book is a summer must read. Maybe in Another Life has the same kind of fast-paced, split storytelling as Jenkins explores two parallel realities spurred by the protagonist’s decision to stay at the bar with her high school ex-boyfriend or go home with her friends one night. Cue the butterfly effect: the two stories develop in radically different ways. All in all, these two books consider (and often challenge) the idea of soulmates and destiny in a surprisingly satisfying way.
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
I started this book over winter break and it is on the top of my summer reading list. Oprah highlighted Caste as part of her iconic “Book Club,” and she referred to it as her most important selection yet. Wilkerson dives into the existence of the American caste system built upon a rigid racial hierarchy by connecting it to the caste systems of India and Nazi Germany. She dives into the historical development of the American caste system and catalogs its effects on our culture, politics, health, and more.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
This is the first book in Follett’s Century trilogy so if you are looking for a series to keep you occupied, this is it. The series tracks the development of five families from different countries, classes, and backgrounds as they navigate through different historically significant events and their lives intertwine, beginning with the leadup to World War I. It covers everything from revolution to romance and serves as a captivating history lesson.
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
Trevor Noah is the hilarious host of The Daily Show and his book takes a similar comedic tone while delving into difficult stories from his childhood. He was born to a white Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother during apartheid, making him caught between two cultures and communities, neither of which fully embraced him. The book connects exciting stories of Trevor’s adventures and rebellions as a child with his larger struggle of navigating a world that was not apt to accept him.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
By this point, you may have noticed that this list is very history-heavy, but I strongly believe that historical fiction is the best book genre! A friend of mine once told me that historical fiction, more than any other genre, transports you into another world across time and space and leaves you feeling fulfilled as you learn about the past along the way. The Other Boleyn Girl is the book that first got me hooked on historical fiction as it tells the dramatic story of two sisters, Mary and Anne Boleyn, competing for the attention of Henry VIII. While the book does take many liberties in terms of its historical accuracy, it is a dazzling story of the Tudor court and all its scandals and style.
Whatever you read this summer, try to shop locally, check out your nearest public library, or shop through a used book source, such as Thriftbooks. Happy (almost) summer and happy reading!