Summer reading is my favorite, maybe because it conjures up images of reading poolside/beachside with an ice-cold margarita on the rocks (with salt!) in hand. Here’s what I read this month (lots of good ones!).
The Forever Summer by Jamie Brenner
I loved this book, and I highly recommend it. I flew threw nearly 360 pages in two days because I couldn’t get enough of it. The story was wonderful, and I really loved most of the characters and plot lines. I wish I could give this book 4.8 stars because it’s so close to a perfect rating, but the Rachel + Luke storyline felt so empty, shallow, undeveloped, and silly; I got annoyed reading those sections of the book (same with the Nadine sections, which resolved all too quickly in my opinion). Anyway, regardless of my issue with that plot line, I think The Forever Summer is just lovely and I am looking forward to reading more of Jamie Brenner’s work.
Calypso by David Sedaris
This is one of my new favorite David Sedaris books! I love his style of writing—he is so sharp and clever and brilliantly funny, and there are so many moments of hilarity in his books, but there are moments of heartache, too. He is just such a real, well-rounded writer. I love everything I've read by Sedaris over the years but Calypso really captivated me. Highly recommend! P.S. Not sure why Goodreads is formatting this as an audiobook—I can't seem to locate a hardcopy version on the site. But I do think the audiobook would be really fun to listen to—I think I'll check it out.
I’ll Be You Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
Man, I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I thought the writing was beautiful and I really loved the plot line that revolves around Edith’s character, but I found Clare to be an incredibly annoying, unlikable main character. Her relationships with both Zach and Dev were surface-level, and the whole broken engagement plot line seemed really unnecessary and incomplete. Sadly, I do not recommend this book.
How Hard Can It Be? by Allison Pearson
** Spoiler Alert **
I was so excited about this book because I love Kate Reddy (and, by proxy, Allison Pearson), but I was disappointed. While I found many gems + parts that made my laugh, on the whole I really thought this book was underdeveloped and, in some ways, crass. There were minor plot lines that were described tediously and at unnecessary length; conversely, there were major plot lines that appeared - and were then immediately resolved - out of thin air (namely Kate’s whirlwind romance/reconnection with Jack, but also the dissolution of her marriage and her daughter’s self-harm). I also had some serious moral issues with some parts of the book, especially the wild high school party Kate & Richard hosted and essentially turned a blind eye to. I just can’t get on board with this book, even though I desperately wanted to. I would be open to reading more of Pearson’s work since I adored I Don’t Know How She Does It, but I don’t recommend this title.
In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham
This is such a fun, cheerful, encouraging book (and it takes less than 20 minutes to read!). This is Lauren Graham’s commencement address to the 2017 graduating class at her alma mater, Langley High. It was bound and turned into a book, and it is equal parts lovely, inspiring, funny, and sweet. Reading this would make anyone’s day a bit brighter. It would make a great gift for a graduate, certainly, but also for anyone in a season of change or anyone in need of a boost.
Florida by Lauren Groff
This is a beautifully written book. I expected no less from Lauren Groff, as I thought Fates and Furies was gorgeously written as well. I wasn't so crazy about Fates and Furies, but since I enjoyed the writing so much I knew I would want to read more of Groff's work in the future. This book almost had a poetic-like quality to it, and I found that I had to really focus to absorb all of the nuance and loveliness each chapter had to offer. I loved that this was a collection of stories; it helped me absorb the plot lines more fully. My favorite chapters were "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners," "Above and Below," and "Yport."
If you're diving into this book, I recommend reading it without any distractions; it required all of my focus and attention.
In sum, I think how Lisa Zeidner summed the book + Groff's writing up in a review for the Washington Post captures the essence of the work the best: "With this collection, she stakes her claim to being Florida’s unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California."
The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty
Another enjoyable read by Liane Moriarty. I love the twists and turns in Moriarty's books, and I always really enjoy the character development she works into each plot line. I especially appreciated reading the sections about Grace, which addressed and accurately delved into the reality of postpartum depression.
As is the case in some of Moriarty's books, sections of The Last Anniversary dragged/felt repetitive. The story seemed to shift from being all about Sophie to being all about Connie & Rose's family, and while that makes sense in a way, it was also a little distracting.
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
** Spoiler Alert **
This is a book that will stay with me. To steal from Anne Bogel’s review, which perfectly sums it up in three words, it is “complex, wistful, melancholy.” I particularly loved the final chapter from Rafiq’s point of view - it was so heartbreaking and beautiful. I would have enjoyed hearing more of Huda’s perspective. This was a slow read for me, as there was a lot to take in. I recommend it for readers who want to dive deep, focus, and savor a book. I can’t believe that author Fatima Farheen Mirza is just 26 years old; her writing is so good that I think readers have a lot to look forward to in terms of this book and future projects.
Image via This Is Glamorous