Wednesday, June 5, 2019

My Summer Reading Recommendations for Y'all!

Happy summer y'all! I mean, technically it's not summer summer for a few more weeks, but for all intents and purposes it is. Anyway, that's not why I've gathered y'all here today. As you build your summer reading lists, pack for summer vacations and/or need a good book in your life, I wanted to offer up some reads specifically for the season.

These are books that have been recently released within the last nine months (with one exception, but it has a connection to 2019). I could have obvs given you a ton of recommendations (and will give you more if you reach out!), but I decided to go with choices. I've linked my original review, as well as given you a new and improved "Here's why you should read this!" blurb.

Let's do this?

Okay, cool.

If you'd like to check out something reminiscent of a Lifetime movie or Dateline mystery, read The Night Before by Wendy Walker.

This was a thriller I read in one sitting because I had to know what happened. It's a story told in two timelines - What happened before and what happened after - with two sisters serving as narrators. It's mystery wrapped up in past happenings, online dating, and a complicated relationship of two sisters. It is a literal pageturner that will keep you guessing.

If you are looking for a good cry and reminder of the beauty in life, read The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

First off, I must also say that if you opt to read this, you may want to not do so in public and definitely have tissues handy. With that in mind, this is a memoir of a life full of obstacles, but more than that, it's about finding the beauty in it all. The author is diagnosed with terminal cancer at 37, and as she reflects one where her life has been (including some tough stuff from childhood), she really zones in on the beauty of the experience she's given and life she's had. This is a book that gives you so much to think about and reflect on in your own life. This is a honest and authentic read that is overflowing with feels that will stick with you.

If you're looking for a story with some fantasy, some love, some thrills, and all kinds of feels (and smells), read The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister.

Y'all, this is just one of those books that was a world unlike any other. I was sucked in from the first pages until the very last words. Much of this book focuses on the sense of smell and the role, but more than that, this is about relationships. It's a coming of age story told in two worlds with characters that are so wonderful and captivating to go on the journey with. This one is just a beautiful read.

If you want a lighthearted rom-com that has John Hughes vibes, read Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton.

This book is part Groundhog Day, part Pretty in Pink, and there's even a bit of The Breakfast Club. If you're all, "I'm here for that!" on that sentence alone, check this one out. I feel like I don't need to tell you more than this because this is appeals a certain kind of reader. This is just one of those books that'll make you happy.

And now for something completely different. . .

If you want to be scared sh*tless, or check out something that's currently a television series, read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston.

Of all the books I have read in life, this is easily the scariest and most terrifying. I am now so much more aware and informed of what ebola is, and WHOA. While this is an older book (published in 1994), it is timely given there is a new National Geographic series. Also, you should know that two of the people central to the story are K-Staters! This is a book that will instill fear into you at a level you've never felt, but it also will help you understand why it is so important to work on research and management of this virus.

If you want to know more about how the octo-champs became a thing and how that connects to Gen Z, read Beeline by Shalini Shankar.

First of all, let's take a moment to recognize how amazing this year's spelling bee was. 

And yes, I get emotional when I watch this.

This book is a really good explanation of the culture behind the bee. It explains the preparation and community that has grown around the competition. It then goes a step further and makes connection with Generation Z, particularly how they're different in both bee approach and their lives in general. As an educator, as well as a super fan of the bee, this was such an interesting read. I think it's even more interesting and timely given what just went down!

If you want a story about being the new kid, friendship, and a little bit of reality television, read The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin.

This is a children's (chapter) book with such heart. If you've ever been the new kid, you'll definitely connect with Caitlyn's story. Caitlyn moves to small town for seventh grade where all her new classmates have been together forever. Not only this, they keep talking about another kid that's moved away - Paulie Fink. He's left big shoes for someone to fill, so the kids decide to have a reality television-esque competition for this. The story is just fun to read, as it's told with a variety of methods, and to revisit those days of middle school (in a good way) is neat. Obviously, this is for kids, but I do think adults will really dig it, too.

If you want a different kind of love story that is just so, so wonderful, read The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

I. Loved. This. Book. I cannot say this enough. It's the story of a couple who finds each other, loses each other, and finds each other once more. It talks about how they first came together in the 90s while at college, then when they find their way back in 2001. Along the way, you also get to see why they lost touch. The main character Annika is just wonderful, and like Michael in the story, I was so very drawn to her. 

If you want a complex thriller that'll keep you guessing, read The Mother-In- Law by Sally Hepworth

Y'all, this one had so many twists, and I did not see them coming. It focuses on a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and the chapters are told from alternating perspectives. The mother-in-law has just been found dead with a suicide note, however it is quickly revealed the story is far more complicated. This is told in both the past and present, and along the way, all the secrets are revealed for this family. It'll keep you guessing and reading for sure.

If you want to reconnect with summer reading of yore, read Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of 80s and 90s Fiction by Gabrielle Moss. 

If you spent your childhood/teen summers reading The Babysitters Club, thrillers from RL Stine and/or Christopher Pike, Girl Talk, Sweet Valley Twins and/or anything with those dramatic covers and angsty plots, you need to get in this time machine. It's so fun to revisit reading from back when. I should offer the disclaimer that you're going to leave this one with an urge to re-read and re-discover all your old faves. I say this from experience as I (re)built my collection of The Babysitters Club.

Happy (Summer) Reading!!