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Summer is right around the corner, so that means plenty of time to relax! For those times when you want to wind down, why not grab a book? Without further adieu, here are 6 books to read this summer:

The Rules of Magic and Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman

For people that are looking for a beautifully written, witchy read, this one is for you! Practical Magic (with a movie of the same name starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman) is a novel about two wildly different sisters, Gillian and Sally Owens, raised by two eccentric aunts after their parents’ demise in a fire. Both are lovely and magical, though Gillian is impulsive and spends her life moving around, while Sally is widowed young and lives with the aunts and her daughters. When Gillian ends up in trouble, she shows up at Sally’s door for the first time in years, and all the Owens women team up to work some magic. The Rules of Magic is the recent prequel to Practical Magic and tells the aunts’ story growing up magical in New York. These novels are a delightful mix of magical realism, romance and plot.

 One line pitch: Witchy rom-com about family and fate


Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

By now, everyone has heard at least some of the press generated by Luca Guadagnino’s beautiful film adaptation of this novel starring Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet. The novel is just as worthy of your time. Set in picturesque Tuscany, Elio anticipated another tranquil summer that’s disrupted by the arrival of his father’s American summer assistant, Oliver. It’s a captivating account of an intense summer love, which could lean toward the overly sentimental but is just moving and captivating in this novel. Aciman’s writing is gorgeous and evocative but very accessible, and the characters are so carefully built and developed that this memoir style novel feels less like a book and more like a memory. 

One line pitch: Poetic remembrance of a first love


Infomocracy by Malka Older

Infomocracy is a science fiction (or speculative fiction) novel about a near future where the news is a commodity and governments are self-divided into small geographic conclaves of similarly-minded people. The importance of the press and information in this novel is a very striking parallel to the current moment in history, where the media is so vastly influential and the origins of headlines are not as scrutinized as they should be. In this novel, several characters are trying to complete individual missions that conflict with others’ missions, and their perceptions of what is going on around them can be vastly different. It’s engaging with lots of twists and shifting parts.

One line pitch: Political sci-fi thriller about the power of media


Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust feels like a fairytale happily ever after with a snarky, tongue-in-cheek narrator. Filled with the classic elements of fairy tales like magic, adventure and a young man seeking his fate, Stardust feels familiar but transforms these maybe-tired elements into a totally new story. For example, Tristan, said fortune-seeking young man, finds out that what he wants isn’t what he expected and that maybe he didn’t want it anyway. Gaiman’s novels are consistently entertaining, clever and well-written, but Stardust is exemplary in the surprising moments of beauty that come between the chuckles it elicits.

One line pitch: Not the fairy tale you were expecting


Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

Big Little Lies, having inspired an HBO mini-series recently renewed for its second season, is a novel full of rich and complete female characters. It’s also full of twists that keep you engaged until literally the last page when all of the pieces fall neatly into place. When Jane, a young single mother, moves to a new town, she thinks her new friends Celeste and Madeline have picture-perfect lives. By the end of the novel, the three women have dealt with infidelity, sexual violence and trauma. Moriarty masterfully explores these issues, not giving into sentimentality, but treating them with dignity. The novel is well-crafted and the characters are so vivid that they feel like you’d see them in the carpool lane any weekday afternoon.

One line pitch: Jane Austen meets soccer mom thriller


The Martian by Andy Weir

Also recently a popular movie, The Martian is Mark Watney’s journal from the months he is stuck on Mars after an equipment failure forces a botched evacuation of the rest of his team. Watney is a botanist and is forced to constantly improvise with the equipment left behind for his survival until NASA realizes he is still alive and is able to plan a mission. He grows potatoes in space, modifies rovers and snarks his way through an astounding array of mishaps and obstacles. This is funny and captivating, though does lean toward overly technical at times. Mark Watney is a relatable but inspiring character and there is a lot to enjoy in this novel.

One line pitch: Snarky geek stuck in space


Are there any books you’re going to read this summer?

Isabel Uzsoy

Chapel Hill

Isabel is a junior at UNC majoring in computer science and English literature. She enjoys reading, coffee, and good times with good friends.
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