Once again, we’ve reached that time of year when everyone is starting to jet off on their spring/summer vacations. I’m actually flying to Barcelona tomorrow morning, so this post is particularly timely!
There are a few things that I never travel without: sunglasses, hand sanitiser, headphones, a giant bottle of water and a good book. Always a good book! And, because I know that many of you will be heading off to chase the sun in the coming weeks, I thought I’d share 9 awesome books to read during summer 2017. So if you’re currently searching for a great novel to enjoy whilst you lounge by the pool, check out these suggestions…
Books That Came Before the Film/TV Series
I don’t know about you, but I always prefer to read books before their respective film and television adaptations are released. I never got a chance to see the Oscar-nominated movie Lion; but I recently read Saroo Brierley’s memoir, Lion: A Long Way Home, and haven’t been able to stop thinking about his story.
By now you probably know roughly what happened… Saroo lived in a poor village in India, until he accidentally got separated from his brother at the age of five and ended up on a train to Calcutta. After living on the streets he was eventually adopted by an Australian couple. And 25-years-later Saroo retraced his family in India using Google Earth. It’s such an incredible story, and I powered through it in under 48 hours.
I also missed the HBO series Big Little Lies, which starred Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. But I’ve tried my best to catch up with the zeitgeist by reading Liane Moriarty’s addictive novel. If you’re searching for an easy beach read this is it!
And, of course, there’s also Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, which has just been turned into a 13-part Netflix series. High school student Hannah Baker commits suicide, and leaves behind 13 cassette tapes explaining the events that lead to her death. The young adult novel is a really quick read, and the mystery will definitely hook you in.
It took me a really long time to work my way through My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, but it was such a rewarding read. I picked it up around the time of the Women’s March, and it’s so interesting to see how current events reflect the social and political activism Steinem took part in during the ’60s and ’70s. Unfortunately progress has come at a snail’s pace, but there’s still hope and this book will open your eyes to the work that is yet to be done.
As I’ve mentioned before, Note to Self is one of my favourite podcasts, and I loved the recent mindfulness episode with Chade-Meng Tan. Chade-Meng was one of Google’s earliest engineers, and after he unlocked the secret to “engineering” his own happiness he began teaching mindfulness techniques at Google HQ. He shares his insights in this bestseller, which is next of my reading list. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
Cheryl Strayed is one of my favourite writers, and I’ve just jumped into Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Someone Who’s Been There. Taken from her online Agony Aunt column, Cheryl compassionately shares her advice and experiences in such a humorous and relatable way. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, it really feels like you’re speaking to a friend when you read Cheryl Strayed’s writing. I can’t sing her praises enough!
Novels Set in New York
I love reading fiction that’s set in New York. The obsession must have started when I was 13-years-old and first picked up one of the Gossip Girl books. Ever since then I’ve been transfixed by stories of Manhattan’s elite. So naturally Swan Huntley’s debut novel, We Could Be Beautiful, appealed to my rather niche tastes.
We Could Be Beautiful is a psychological thriller set on the Upper East Side. Catherine West is beautiful, wealthy and lives a rather empty life. One evening, at an art opening, Catherine reconnects with William, a handsome man from her past. But as their relationship progresses she begins to unravel some shocking truths about William, and his unexpected ties to her family.
Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter raced to the top of The New York Times bestseller list when it was released last year. And you’re seriously missing out if you still haven’t read it. The poetic novel follows Tess, who moves to New York City in her early twenties and starts waitressing at an iconic Union Square restaurant. She’s quickly drawn into a love triangle with the “bad boy” bartender and the restaurant’s enchanting sommelier.
Girl in Translation is one of the most moving books I have ever read. And it shows a very different side to New York. Jean Kwok’s novel is largely set in Brooklyn, and follows 11-year-old Kimberley Chang and her mother, who move to America from Hong Kong, not speaking a word of English. Living in poverty, with her mother working night and day in a sweatshop, Kimberley concludes it is up to her to change their fate. It sounds emotionally draining, but the story is filled with hope and triumph.
What will you be reading on your summer travels? I always love receiving book suggestions, so feel free to share your recommendations in the comments section below…
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