I have always loved summer reading.
From participating in my local library's summer reading programs as a child to excitedly reading blog posts promoting the year's hottest summer books, my favorite of pastimes certainly takes on a different feel when the days get longer and the sun gets hotter.
I am what I would describe as "a seasonal reader" and definitely gravitate to certain genres during certain months of the year. September and October call for spookier reads and horror fiction, a genre I didn't even know I liked until a couple of years ago. I love Christmas stories in November and December, read underneath the warmth of a heated blanket and the glow of the tree. To me, summer reading is all about page-turning thrillers and light, summery beach reads, although I will dive occasionally into other types of books from June through August. While you'll normally find me reading poolside or on vacation, this summer, as we continue to shelter-in-place, I will enjoy most of my summer books on my front porch.
Here are 9 books I can't wait to read this summer:
pub date: 8/4/20
Alternating between past and present, The Comeback tells the story of teen actress Grace Turner and her rise to fame under a manipulative director and her eventual self-exile from the film industry. When asked to present a lifetime achievement award to this man, she can no longer hide from her past and learns that her come back must also be her “fight back”.
Why I am Excited: I will read just about any book with the film industry as a backdrop, so as soon as I read the summary for this one, I knew I was all in.
Silvia Moreno Garcia
pub date: 6/30/20
Noemí Taboada receives a desperate letter seeking help from her cousin, a 1950s newlywed living tucked away in High Place, a mysterious home set in the Mexican countryside. While there, Noemí uncovers a history of family secrets, violence, and madness.
Why I am Excited: Gothic horror fiction is one of my favorite genres, and with comparisons to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (one of my favorite books of all-time), it immediately went on my list. Mexico holds a special place in my heart, and I also gravitate towards any book with this setting.
Romance writer January Andrews and literary writer Augustus Everett spend the summer in neighboring beach houses, broke and battling their writer's block together. They decide to challenge one another to write a book in the other’s genre, swapping their normal, acclaimed writing styles for something completely different.
Why I am Excited: Very few rom-coms strike a chord with me, although I am always on the hunt for a great, light love story for summer. As a May Book of the Month selection, I have seen this one all over Bookstagram getting rave reviews from fellow readers.
Home Before Dark
pub date: 6/30/20
Twenty five years ago, Maggie Holt’s parents moved into Baneberry Hall, a Victorian estate in the secluded Vermont woods. Fleeing after experiencing three weeks of inexplicable supernatural activity, Maggie’s father published a bestselling memoir based on their brief time living in the home. Maggie, too young to remember the incident and generally a skeptic anyway, decides to undertake a renovation of the home when she inherits it after her father’s death. When she begins to experience the same occurrences as described in her father’s infamous book, she starts to believe in the stories she initially brushed off as fiction.
Why I am Excited: I have read all of Riley Sager’s books, and they are always a page-turning great time. I can’t wait to dive into this one. (And I love spooky house stories, which is my favorite sub-genre of horror fiction.)
The Night Swim
pub date: 8/4/20
Podcast host Rachel Krall becomes a household name after covering a brutal crime in a small town. When a mysterious note begging for her professional skills is left on her car's windshield, Rachel begins research for a new case: a rape trial for a small town’s beloved Olympics-bound swimmer. While working on this mystery, she digs back into the drowning death of her sister 25 years prior, as odd notes about that incident continue to appear for her in unexpected places. The two cases begin to intertwine and change the course of the town's trial, affecting many lives in the process.
Why I am Excited: Goldin’s The Escape Room was one of my top-ten books of 2019. I could NOT put it down, and barreled through it in two days. I have high expectations for this follow-up, and with its great reviews so far, I don't think I will be disappointed.
pub date: 6/16/20
A literary take on the film Same Time Next Year, 28 Summers explores the relationship between Mallory and Jake, who meet at a Nantucket cottage bachelor party in 1993 and spend one weekend per year together after that. When Mallory passes away in the spring of 2020, she leaves instructions for her son to call a mysterious phone number that turns out to be Jake...Jake, who is married to the leading candidate for the presidential nominee. The book explores Mallory and Jake’s years-long relationship and how it complicates and affects the lives of their loved ones.
Why I am Excited: Summer reading for me, IS Elin Hilderbrand. I love being whisked away to Nantucket each year, and while her books are hit-or-miss for me, I read her newest each summer.
The Daughters of Erietown
pub date: 6/9/20
A family story spanning from the 1950s to the 1970s, The Daughters of Erietown introduces readers to teenage lovebirds Ellie and Brick, their lives in rural Ohio, and the issues that affect working class families and communities during this period in history.
Why I am Excited: I have been a longtime admirer of Connie Schultz and can't wait to read her first foray into fiction.
*as of publishing this post, I have started an Advanced Reader's Copy
The Safe Place
pub date: 7/14/20
When struggling young actress Emily loses her office temp job and receives an eviction notice from her landlord for too many late payments, her future seems more uncertain than ever. Former employer, company CEO Scott Denny, takes notice of her and believes her to be the perfect fit for their family, serving as an assistant to his wife, playmate to his young daughter, and caretaker of their sprawling oceanside property in sunny France. Emily accepts, quickly forming a bond with wife Nina as they spend hours a day together restoring the grounds, lounging poolside, and prepping elaborate meals. Young Aurelia is a bit more work, but even she begins to trust Emily as they spend more time together. But, something feels off…
With a little research, Emily begins to uncover the family’s darkest secrets and suddenly her dream job by the sea is a nightmare.
Why I am Excited: I love thrillers with a summer vibe, and I am admit, this cover sucked me in.
*update as of publishing this post: I have read my Advanced Reader's Copy and will publish a review soon
The Nothing Man
Catherine Ryan Howard
pub date: 8/20/20
Eve Black, the lone survivor of “The Nothing Man” who killed her family nearly two decades prior, has devoted her life to her obsessive hunt to track down the man who destroyed her life and family. But “The Nothing Man” is still out there, and he is reading her memoir, realizing how close Eve is to uncovering the truth about him.
Why I am Excited
I love a good page-turner with crazy plot twists. Other reviewers have mentioned going into this one without reading much about it because of these twists, which excites me to open my copy.
What are you looking forward to reading this summer?
In May 2017, Brian and I spent four nights at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort and Spa, a luxurious retreat of a resort located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Unfortunately, I experienced an issue with loading books onto my first-generation Nook ereader (yes, I still have and use my original) so I did not enjoy using my Kindle Fire for reading on this vacation. I am just not a fan of backlit devices - they are killer on the eyes and no fun in the sun.
A full review of our experience at the Grand Velas will follow, but for now, let's take a look - without judgment - at my reads for this vacation:
I am a Gilmore Girls fanatic, so as soon as I learned Lauren Graham would be publishing a memoir, it immediately was added to my to-be-read list on Goodreads. Lucky for me, my turn for the eBook was up right as we were set to depart.
I fell in love with her even more, and I suspect this would be fantastic as an audio selection.
Click on the cover to learn more.
This was a different sort of reading vacation for me - with lack of access to the books I *thought* I had loaded onto my Nook, and then issues reading my Kindle in the sunlight, my reading time was sufficiently hampered. I did not dive into any great fiction as is my norm, but I thoroughly enjoyed these guilty pleasure memoirs on this first resort vacation post-baby.
Update: I have since purchased a Kindle Paperwhite, which is much more user-friendly for downloading books from my library's Overdrive system (no more cables and computers and Adobe programs needed like with my Nook!) .
After finding out in early March that we were expecting our first child, the husband and I knew we needed to squeeze in one final vacation before our travels were put aside for a few months to care for our little lady. My husband really wanted to spend a week at a couple of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, so I made our arrangements and we headed south in mid-June. I have been very lucky with a healthy, active, and happy pregnancy, but I am not ashamed to admit how much I was looking forward to embracing my inner sloth and lounging for a few days with books and a Caribbean view. And lounge I did...I am not kidding when I say this is just about all we did on this vacation. (We are normally active vacation people, so this level of laziness is a huge deal for us.)
Areas I Lounged Around, Book in my Hand...
Breakfast. Read. Shower. Lunch. Read. Nap. Read/word puzzles. Dinner. Scrabble. Sleep.
Our vacation routine was lively, people.
I completed The Next Best Thing, Me Before You, and An Untamed State during our week-long stay in Mexico, while also dipping in and out of the intense I Am Pilgrim. I started The Girl on the Train during the flight home and finished it after settling back into reality.
Click on the book covers to learn more.
If you're a bibliophile like me, packing books for vacation can be a daunting task - particularly if you prefer traveling with print books instead of one of those flashy, newfangled e-readers. (I own one, and love it, but don't take it on resort vacations.) I have taken to posting my options online so my book group can help me decide or spreading the books out on the bed and letting my husband voice his opinion on my intended reading material. Weight, size of books, number of books, and content are all things to consider, especially if you're a packing hero traveling with a carry-on only. (This is something I will contend with on our upcoming vacation, and I am already stressed out about it.)
My vacation reading primarily happens while en route to our vacation destination and on the return trip home - my husband and I are not ones to lie on the beach or next to a pool, and I am usually too sleepy on vacation evenings to read before bed. (Although at home I usually read each night before bed!) We prefer to be active, particularly on cruise ships where so many fun activities happen all day, but have recently discovered the bliss of relaxing poolside at an all-inclusive resort.
For our November 2013 cruise on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas, I knew we would be relaxing by the pool quite a bit, so I tossed two library books into my suitcase. I plowed through Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (lots of fun) and then started The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (too depressing to read while listening to steel drums). Wally Lamb tells good stories, but after a couple of his books on vacation, I know I won't be packing another one in the future.
On our recent visit to an all-inclusive in Riviera Maya, Mexico I packed the first book in the Game of Thrones series, thinking I would become completely engulfed by the fantasy world of George R.R. Martin before beginning the critically-acclaimed HBO television series with my husband. Nope. While the book is incredibly well written, I spent most of that vacation staring at the Caribbean Sea trying to decompress from months of working long hours. This was our first vacation together with substantial time spent relaxing, and I probably would have read much more if I had packed something a tad lighter. I plan on finishing this one at home...eventually. Okay, what I mean is that I plan on watching the tv series soon.
My husband reads only occasionally but had his nose buried in a book for most of this vacation, so consider this is an honest-to-goodness endorsement, readers. A couple of years ago, I wrote out a list of books for my husband that I thought he would enjoy, so he has been working his way through both fiction and nonfiction slowly but surely. On this trip, he went completely rogue and packed a book my mom had purchased for him as a Christmas gift - Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. He could not wait to get to the pool to read each morning, and he spent most of our rainy resort day burrowed in the Dreams Riviera Cancun lobby, alternating between beers and coffee drinks from the CoCo Cafe.
For those of you who pack print books on vacation, how do you decide what you will take with you? What sorts of books do you like to read on vacation? What are some of your favorite vacation reads? Share your comments below or on the Facebook page, and let's get a discussion going and help bookworms experience literary joy while out and about in the world.
Nook or paperbacks? Nook or paperbacks? Nook! And one paperback, just in case, for the beach!
Selecting books to pack for vacation is my most time-consuming task, and it usually involves quite a bit of time spent on Goodreads and a few consultations with my most trusted of reading friends. Usually, I am the one many seek out for book recommendations, but planning reading material for vacation really sends me into a tizzy. Thankfully, my great reading friend Lisa surprised me with several books for my eReader a couple of days before departure; she really knows my taste and I knew that I would have some great novels in store.
I have read Chevy Stevens in the past, and her books are usually fun page-turners so I thought I would start this one on the flight to Cancun. It wasn't as good as the first book I read by her, Still Missing, but it made the time pass quickly en route to Mexico. I finished it shortly before landing, and selected The Vacationers as my next read, which proved to be a perfect novel for hanging out on the beach or at the pool. I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You was smart and well-written; it's a shame so many are writing negative reviews because they didn't care for the main character.
Technically, everyone goes, since a vast array of fiction is now waits on my original Nook, but trying to decide which books are bestowed the honor of being forever classified as a"vacation read"is a tough call, especially when so many great titles beckon. Are you a plane book? Are you a beach book? Are you a waiting-in-the-airport book? These are issues that true bibliophiles grapple with, not the casual vacation reader, like my dear husband. For me, the books I read on vacation are as much a part of the special memories as any other traveling experience I have when away from home. When I see a copy of Where'd You Go, Bernadette? I am immediately back on board Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. When I see a copy of The Vacationers, I am whisked away to a chaise facing the Caribbean Sea in my beloved Mexico. Each one of my trips is marked by the books I read.
When it comes to selecting the books I will read on the plane, my mind is wanting something I can get completely and utterly lost in so as to ignore the man sneezing incessantly behind me or the weird smell wafting my direction - something fast-paced and engaging that I can move through rather quickly and simply enjoy. You know, something that will probably be made into a movie eventually...even it is by Lifetime.
Contenders for the "plane category" for our upcoming summer vacation include the following. Click on each book cover to read more about it!
When it comes to the books I enjoy on the beach or near the pool, I am not nearly as picky. For me, a "beach read" is simply a book I happen to be reading at the beach and is not defined by existing as a particular genre one might call "fluff" or "chick-lit". (Although I am certainly not against books categorized as the aforementioned.) My beach reads are as eclectic as my reading tastes in general, so I am a real loose cannon when it comes to true vacation reading.
My dear reading friends, Lisa and Amy, recently supplied me with several contenders in preparation for this summer's vacation, and because I trust them both implicitly with my reading selections, deciding from their nominations will be truly difficult. A few of the books that I am considering for resort reading are featured here:
I have also been telling my husband that the summer of 2015 would be the summer of an East of Eden reread, which I initially spent many lazy days by our marina swimming pool enjoying immensely in 2005. It isn't just my favorite of Steinbeck's works; it also happens to be one of my all-time favorite books, period. My husband, who also really likes Steinbeck, plans to read it for the first time while in Mexico, so perhaps both ePub and paperback versions of Steinbeck will be accompanying us south of the border. I have been hounding him to read this since our earliest days of marriage, and have repeatedly told him that he cannot consider himself a true Steinbeck fan until he has read its final page.
Next to travel, reading is my greatest pleasure. When I can combine the two...even better.