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10 Recommendations to Get You (Preemptively) in the Summer Spirit

While April is a little early to start celebrating summer, we are nevertheless coming to the end of the school year and the end of my time at HerCampus. I obviously had to complete my seasonal set of recommendations (fall, winter, and spring can be found through these links), so, without further ado, here are my last 10 recommendations of the year!

SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama.

Starting out strong, we have Rina Sawayama’s debut studio album. If you haven’t heard of her, Sawayama is an LGBTQ+ Japanese-British musician whose work dips into a number of genres, including pop, rock, R&B, and metal. While SAWAYAMA is full of bops, “Bad Friend” is my personal favourite, and it captures the feeling of running around a city at night with your friends perfectly. 

Recommended when… You want to feel a little badass.

Please Like Me.

If you haven’t already seen this Australian dramedy, you have to give it a chance. Created by Josh Thomas, the series follows Josh, a gay twentysomething as he navigates life and his relationship with his mother, who lives with bipolar disorder. This show is the most accurate depiction of the chaos of your early twenties (bonus points for the house he shares with his friend—there are chickens!), and its honesty and humour makes it a delight to watch. Just be mindful when you watch it; some of the episodes deal with heavy topics.

Recommended when… You have a lazy, sunny afternoon to spend watching TV.

Naomi Novik’s Uprooted.

This fantasy novel is a fun, fast read about a young woman who is chosen by “The Dragon,” a wizard who needs an apprentice to help him keep a nearby evil forest at bay. Uprooted plays with fairy tale tropes, has a strong female lead and features several fun twists. What’s not to like? 

Recommended when… you want to sit under a tree and get lost in another world.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Another novel, now that we don’t have to do a ton of reading for school! While Ng is known for her second book Little Fires Everywhere, which Amazon turned into a miniseries, her first book is my favourite of the two. Set during the summer holidays, the novel follows a Chinese-American family after their middle daughter drowns in a lake. The characters are complex, and Ng tracks the history of the family leading up to the fateful death with subtlety and care. 

Recommended when… it’s pouring and you can listen to the rain through an open window while curled up on the couch.

Magic Ship by Mountain Man.

This album is deceptively simple. It passes by in a dreamy haze, one song drifting into the next. Favourites include “Baby Where You Are” and “Stella,” but the whole album is perfect for playing in the background during chill summer days.

Recommended when… you’re painting in bare feet and there’s a square of sunlight on your wall.

Shaun Tan’s Tales From the Inner City.

I’m not entirely sure how to describe this book. Essentially, it’s a collection of short stories and poems placed against a series of surrealist paintings that typically feature animals in a suburban setting. Fish and whales fly, while horses gallop along telephone wires at night. The entire book is gorgeous and well-worth the read. 

Recommended when… you can never remember your dreams but you’d like to.

Good Omens (the miniseries).

The novel, too, if you’d like, but the miniseries is plenty of fun on its own. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as an angel and demon respectively and attempt to stop the end of the world. It’s honestly worth it just for Sheen and Tennant’s incessant flirting, but the story is entertaining as well. 

Recommended when… you’re feeling a little world-weary and need some hope.

This Accident of Being Lost by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.

This is a collection of stories and songs that defies categorization. It moves between realism and science fiction while using elements of traditional Nishnaabeg storytelling to centre Indigenous voices. Simpson writes with humour and honesty; the voice in the short story “Coffee” is a particular favourite of mine.

Recommended when… you want a read you can savour over the span of a few days.

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta.

This YA novel is about a territory war waged each year between students at a boarding school, “townies” from the nearby town, and the cadets that spend six weeks camping along the titular Jellicoe Road. It’s also about found family, grief and love. 

Recommended when… you need a cry but the good kind, where something loosens in your chest.

Lizzo’s Cuz I Love You.

And ending on a high! I don’t care that this album was released in 2019 or that everyone’s already listened to it. It’s full of bangers that make every summer a Hot Girl Summer. 

Recommended when… you want to have a dance party after a long day of soaking up some sun.

And there you have it! My last batch of recommendations. I wish you all a very happy, and (hopefully) vaccinated summer break. May you get lots of rest, lots of sun and lots of ice cream.

Eli Mushumanski is a queer Writing and English Honour undergrad in their fourth year at the University of Victoria. They specialize in fiction and poetry. Their work has been published by The Albatross, The Warren, and Flare: The Flagler Review, and they are a fiction editor at UVic's literary journal, This Side of West. When not caught up by schoolwork or reading, Eli plays Stardew Valley and chats with their mom on the phone.
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