Another summer is coming (This spring semester went by so quickly! Can’t believe it’s May already.) and I know a lot of us are ready to start reading something different than textbooks.
I have put together a list of books that, I believe, are perfect summertime reading, whether you’re reading them while sunbathing or at home!
I know that a lot of us won’t be able to travel so we can all immerse ourselves in a good book or two.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Sisterhood series by Ann Brashares)
This series follows four high school students and best friends who have been friends since birth. One of the girls, Carmen, finds a pair of old jeans that mysteriously fits each girl perfectly. One summer they all travel to different destinations and decide to share this magical pair of pants while being separated. That summer turns out to be the most memorable summer of their lives.
The books explore friendship, search for love and acceptance as well as the importance of family. They also touch upon the subject of loss.
You might remember the name from two movies that came out in 2005 and 2008. I remember being so hooked and I quickly ordering the books. The books are pretty much set during the summertime, which makes them the perfect read if you want something funny.
Names of all the five books in this series:
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood
3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows
A Special Place for Women by Laura Hankin
“It's a club like no other. Only the most important women receive an invitation. But one daring young reporter is about to infiltrate this female-run secret society, whose beguiling members are caught up in a dark and treacherous business.’’
Basically, this is a book about a shady, elite and women-run cult.
I admit that I haven’t read this one, but it’s a book a couple of people have suggested to me. It has been described as very entertaining and filled with plot twists. To me, it sounds like an interesting book to read by the seaside.
Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World by Laura Barcella
“Nearly every day there's another news story, think piece, or pop cultural anecdote related to feminism and women's rights. Conversations around consent, equal pay, access to contraception, and a host of other issues are foremost topics of conversation in American media. Today's teens are encountering these issues from a different perspective than any generation has before -- but what's often missing from the current discussion is an understanding of how we've gotten to this place. Fight Like a Girl introduces readers to the history of feminist activism in the U.S. in an effort to celebrate those who paved the way and draw attention to those who are working hard to further the feminist cause today.’’
Slightly following the theme of the previous suggestion, this one is an inspiring book that highlights the achievements of 50 women. Of course, the list of inspiring and powerful women is much bigger than 50, but the list will always be subjective. I would definitely like to see more books like this, and definitely books that include more women from diverse backgrounds with regard to disabilities, chronic illness, Islamic feminism and LGBTQIA+ representation.
Still, this straightforward book serves as a good introduction to the topic of feminism.
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
This one is one of my favourites. The book follows four lost souls who encounter each other on a roof that is infamous as a destination for people who are ready to end their lives. It sounds pretty depressing, but it’s actually a hilarious and moving book about life and hope.
The book is written from four very different perspectives, but it is done in such a way that it is not confusing but far more intriguing. Each character is hilarious and a bit tragic in their own way. They all have nothing in common apart from the fact that they have chosen to end their lives (which turns out to be what brings them together), and form something that resembles a support group.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“This is the story of what it's like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie's letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that the perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.’’
This one is easily in my top ten books. (Okay, it’s actually extremely difficult to even choose a top ten but you get my point).
It is such a moving book that touches upon so many themes such as friendship, teenage angst, loss and trauma. And it is written so beautifully. I always come back to this book. Every year and every time I read it, it feels like the first time.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I highly recommend it as well.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Lastly, I have to recommend a Murakami book, since he is one of my favourite authors. I chose Kafka on the Shore because it was summer the first time I read it, and it feels pretty nostalgic.
“Kafka on the Shore, a tour de force of metaphysical reality, is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom. Their odyssey, as mysterious to them as it is to us, is enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerizing events. Cats and people carry on conversations, a ghostlike pimp employs a Hegel-quoting prostitute, a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky. There is a brutal murder, with the identity of both victim and perpetrator a riddle—yet this, along with everything else, is eventually answered, just as the entwined destinies of Kafka and Nakata are gradually revealed, with one escaping his fate entirely and the other given a fresh start on his own.’’
Kafka on the shore is filled with metaphors, as is almost every book by Murakami. It mixes the metaphysical with reality and explores the importance of time as a concept. The book talks about love and holding on to memories, the importance of past, present and future.
“Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
Murakami’s books are an entirely different experience that no words can do justice to. They express warmth, nostalgia and intense emotions that will make you laugh and cry, probably at the same time.
His stories are almost haunting, written so simply yet so captivatingly.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” ― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore