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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Reading is one of my favourite hobbies during the summer. Burrowing into a book while tanning on the beach, sitting in the passenger seat for a road trip, on a flight, or even during those summer thunderstorms that seem to stop time and space, just for a moment. 

I read a lot throughout July; my family was doing a cross-country move and I had about four days on the road to get through, so it was either sitting alone with my thoughts or listening to audiobooks/reading a book. Six books in four days, to be exact. And that’s not counting the rest of the month, which would add another three to that. So, nine books for July. 

Among them was one of my new favourites: a book that surprised me, given that I’d picked it up from Chapters for exactly $7 last winter. It’s called Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, a collection of short summer love stories. 

This book features twelve short stories by authors Stephanie Perkins (Editor), Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colber, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Veronica Roth, Kelley Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith. Each author puts their spin on a summer love story, weaving worlds and creating lovable characters in less than 50 pages each.

It was lovely. Like, in every sense of the word.

Admittedly, I’m a sucker for cute romance stories, especially ones that are short and sweet, but this book surprised me with its quality. I thought it would be a bit messy and granted, I didn’t love each and every single story in it, but for a book that had twelve different authors putting their spin on a summer romance, it was a fairly smooth and fun read. 

It’s so many things all at once: sweet, diverse, fantastical, comedic, gut-wrenchingly sad at times, and nostalgic. If I were to sum it up, a good chunk of the book feels bittersweet, but it leaves you with a feeling of closure. 

Although some of the stories weren’t my personal cup of tea (sorry, Cassandra Clare), I feel like this is the perfect summer read for all my fellow hopeless romantics.

Here are some reviews of the stories that stood out to me the most, and hopefully this is enough to convince you to at least give this book a chance! You could fall in love with it like I did.

*Warning: potential spoilers ahead*

“Head, Scales, Tongue, Tail” by Leigh Bardugo – 4.5/5

An amazing opener! I already love Leigh Bardugo’s other works, namely the Six of Crows duology, so I had high expectations for her. This story was such a good place to start – just the right balance of cutesy teenage romance and weirdness in the um, let me just re-read that to make sure I got that right way, that I was immediately taken by the story and its two protagonists, Gracie and Eli. I think it’s because it reminded me so much of growing up in the summer haze of a small tourist town, but it was easy for me to picture the world Bardugo built in just under 30 pages. She actually seems to understand how to capture what it’s like to be a teenager, and this short story reflects that. This bittersweet, nostalgic love story about a sleepy town and nature spirits was exactly what I needed to get hooked into reading the rest of this book.

“Eli’s transformation was a betrayal, a bait and switch. Eli Cuddy was supposed to be safe, and now he felt dangerous. She cast around for someone else to want.” – Leigh Bardugo

‘‘In Ninety Minutes, Turn North’’ by Stephanie Perkins – 5/5

This is my absolute favourite story of the bunch. Perkins’ story was a continuation of the world she had built in the winter version of this collection: the story of Marigold and North. Despite not having read the winter version (on my To Be Read list for now), I fell in love with them and their story. Perkins wrote in a way that you didn’t have to have read the prequel to understand what was going on, something I appreciate. This story was so, so sweet and adorable that I almost got a cavity. Yes, there were some sad moments, but it hit the nail on the head in terms of exploring what it’s like to be in love in your late teens/early twenties as you’re entering a new chapter of your life. It encompasses what it feels like to not know exactly what you’re doing, to constantly worry if it’s the right thing, and how much it hurts when you ache for something you feel like you can’t have. And, well, I think I love North, too. My bad, Marigold.

“But it was this specific sting–this steadily intensifying sorrow, this oppressive sense of guilt–that was the reason Marigold was standing in the parking lot of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, about to make what might be the most humiliating mistake of her newly adultish, nineteen-year-old life.” – Stephanie Perkins

‘‘Inertia’’ by Veronica Roth – 4.5/5

This story was so interesting to me! It features a present-day sci-fi world, where hospital patients on the brink of death have a Last Visitation. They can bring in loved ones to go through shared memories with them, a way to communicate one last time. It sounds a little complicated, but Roth does a really good job at making it an easy shift between a generally normal world to something much more fictional. I wasn’t really into Divergent as a teen, so I wasn’t too sure if I’d like this short story, and despite some popular takes on this story saying it felt too much like Tris and Four’s story, I really, truly enjoyed it! I thought that it was interesting to look at a story that wasn’t necessarily happy all the way through, one that seemed like it was just too little, too late. This story made my heart hurt, but I love it for that. 

“Lightning struck the water ahead of us, a long bright line from cloud to horizon, and I smiled a little.” – Veronica Roth

I hope you give this book a chance! Maybe you’ll find just what you’re looking for.

Leila is a 4th year journalism major at Carleton University, and Social Media Executive for Her Campus Carleton ('22-'23). She can often be found reading, loves everything about rom coms made before the year 2010, and is consistently a maker-of-questionable-decisions. Please send her movie recommendations or recipes on Instagram @leilaindiraa!