Four Books Everyone Should Have on Their Summer Reading List

One of my all-time favorite summer activities is to lay out in the sun and read. I know it sounds simple, but there really are very few things better than feeling the sun on your skin and getting lost for hours in a good book. Whether you’re already an avid reader or the thought of reading a book “for fun” makes you want to gag, there is definitely a book out there for everyone, and summer is the perfect time to go looking for it.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of four books that should definitely be on everyone’s summer reading list. With topics ranging from family drama, love, racial tensions, and thriving in the face of hardships, there is definitely something for everyone on this list.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing follows the legacies of Effia and Esi, two half-sisters born in different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Their lives end up taking completely different paths, with Effia marrying a wealthy Englishman, who takes her to live with him in the comfort of the Cape Coast Castle. Esi, on the other hand, is kidnapped from her village, imprisoned in the dungeons of the same castle, and sold into slavery in America. Each chapter of the book follows a different one of the sisters’ descendants into present day, examining the atrocities that black people have faced throughout the past few centuries both in America and Ghana. This book is extremely powerful, and will definitely be difficult to put down once you start it.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This book opens with the Lee's, a Chinese-American family living in a small town in rural Ohio in the 1970’s, finding out that their oldest daughter Lydia, is dead. Thus begins the story of everything leading up to the day of her death, going all the way back to when her parents meet and fall in love in college.

Everything I Never Told You is a sensitive portrait of a broken family, examining how family members struggle to understand each other. It delves deep into racial tensions in the mid to late 1900’s, especially pertaining to interracial marriage and mixed-race children, expectations and limitations for women during this time, and how suffocating it can be to grow up carrying the weight of your parents' unrealistic expectations on your shoulders. Be warned, this one will make you cry.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

If you really haven’t read in a while and the thought of picking up a non-required book is terrifying to you, maybe start with a graphic novel instead. Persepolis is a memoir of Satrapi’s experience growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Using black and white comic book imagery, Satrapi tells the story of her life living in Tehran from ages six to 14, sharing her experience with seeing the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the war with Iraq. Humorous and witty at times, but serious and powerful when it needs to be, Satrapi’s story shows us an intimate portrait of the devastating effects of war, and how to find the strength to move on in times of unspeakable tragedy.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

In case you’re one of the few people who hasn’t seen the movie, read the book, or at least heard of this story, do yourself a favor and pick it up immediately. This book follows the story of Louisa Clark, a remarkably ordinary girl, who takes a much-needed job as the caretaker of ex-banker Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will was a fan of extreme sports, traveling, and generally anything adventurous before the accident, and has a hard time coming to terms with how the accident has restricted his body. Louisa quickly gets way more than she signed up for, and sets out to show Will that life is worth living no matter what your limitations are.

Although this book received mixed review based on some of the content, it is a beautiful, realistic look at the lives and questions that disabled and terminally ill people are forced to deal with everyday. If you couldn’t tell already, this one will definitely make you cry (but it is worth it).