By Christine Chitnis
Let's talk summer reads.
Books are my favorite subject in the world (besides roses, of course!), and summer books/summer reads are something that I look forward to every June, July & August!
I am a voracious summer book reader and reader of books as a whole. Usually, I devour upwards of 100+ books a year, with at least 8-12 being read per month in the summer months.
Reading is my preferred form of stress relief, especially during summertime and vacation at the beach.
Between work and parenting my three young kids, I'm often asked how I find the time to read. Here's my trick: once the kids are in bed, I quickly finish up the housework, turn off my phone, and get right into bed with my book.
Since my kids go to bed at around 8pm, this gives me an uninterrupted two hours of reading before I fall asleep. The key is to turn off the phone because otherwise it's tempting to do a bit of Insta scrolling or catch up on just a few work emails instead of reading!
Because of my obsession for books and my passion for summer reading, I'm often asked for new book & summer book recommendations. So in response, I've rounded up a few of my favorite books to share with you here (P.S. Click on the book covers to shop!):
When it comes to beach reads & beach books, I'm captivated by smartly written, emotionally driven dramas that explore what it means to be human. In other words, these beach books aren't necessarily "light and beachy", but I promise they will keep you on the edge of your beach chair!
Beach Read #1 - Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason
Equal parts heartbreaking and hilarious, this book follows the life of Martha, who is struggling and can't quite figure out why. If you've ever loved someone dealing with depression, this book is a must read, and it's absolutely perfect for a long day at the beach. Sorrow and Bliss doesn't shy away from the real struggle of mental illness, but it does so with humor and hope, which is exactly why I am confident that this novel makes for a pleasant summer read at the beach any day.
Beach Read #2 - Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
This is an exception for me in my typical summer reads, because it is a light, frothy, totally addictive beach read! Whenever a friend is going on vacation and asks for that one book they should pack for the beach, this is my top summer beach book recommendation.
The story follows the rise of a rock band in the 1970's and their gorgeous lead singer. Very Almost Famous / Fleetwood Mac vibes, and I love it. Reid has the hot beach read of this year with Malibu Rising, but Daisy Jones & The Six remains my favorite.
Beach Read #3 - When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain
This beach read is a haunting mystery set in California and centered around missing person detective, Anna Hart. This book does address trauma and childhood assault, so be forewarned, you may once again find yourself reading about some serious topics at the beach. Regardless, it is a gripping and strongly written mystery, and I couldn't put it down last summer.
Beach Read #4 - What Comes After by Joanna Tompkins
Nonfiction Summer Reads
The amount of fiction books I read greatly outweighs the nonfiction books in my stack. However, these four (very different) nonfiction books were some of my instant favorites over the past year.
Nonfiction Summer Read #1 - Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb
Our first nonfiction summer read is by Lori Gottlieb. This true story revolves around Los Angeles based therapist who finds herself in need of a therapist after a major life crisis. Enter Wendell, a quirky, highly-experienced therapist.
The book alternates between Gottlieb’s sessions with her clients, and her own sessions with Wendell. It sounds cliche, but this book had me laughing to the point of tears, and then bawling my eyes out in the next chapter. Although it is a deeply personal look at therapy, the lessons are universal and right on time for summer reading.
Nonfiction Summer Read #2 - What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer
This summer read is a bit different than the rest.
I'm going to admit that I don't like poetry. I know, I know....but honestly, I've never been able to submerge myself in poems the way I can with a beautifully written work of fiction.
But at the peak of my summer reading journey, along came Kate Baer's book. Alas, I found myself completely captivated by her poetry, which explores what it means to be a woman, mother, partner, and friend. Her poem, Like a Wife (https://www.instagram.com/p/CHs-E2SDnbo/), is a national treasure that every mother, partner, wife, and friend should read.
Nonfiction Summer Read #3 - Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
This nonfiction novel is based on a viral 2018 New Yorker essay by the same name in which indie rockstar, Michelle Zauner reflects on her upbringing as a Korean American and the loss of her mother.
Zauner is a gifted writer, especially when it comes to her memories around food, and although her grief is raw, she beautifully shares her story. This one is definitely a summer read that you'll want to add to your list.
Nonfiction Summer Read #4 - Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Robin Wall Kimmerer is both a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and in this gentle, beautiful book, she brings together her experiences to share the lessons offered to us by earth and her inhabitants; plants and animals.
She encourages us to explore what it means to live in gratitude to the earth and in harmony with the living world. I often read a chapter at a time and frequently revisit my favorite quotes, always keeping it and other cherished reads like it by my bedside in summer.
All-Time Summer Read Favorites
These summer books, many of which are award winning (we're talking Booker Prize and Pulitzer Prize), are some of my all-time favorite works of fiction. In my eyes, they are classics that deserve a spot on everyone's bookshelves and in everyone's list of beach books.
Summer Read Favorite #1 - Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This excellent summer read is about two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who are born into different Ghanaian villages in the eighteenth-century, & follows their families over the next three hundred years.
This novel is absolutely breathtaking. The writing is as heart wrenching as it is beautiful, and the story and characters will captivate you from the first page.
Homecoming by Yaa Gyasi is a summer read you won't forget.
Summer Read Favorite #2 - Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
This book is about Lydia, who is dead. But her family doesn’t know this yet.
So begins this moving book that somehow manages to be both a gripping mystery and deeply sensitive family drama perfect for any summer reading occasion.
Celeste Ng is one of my favorite authors and I will always read everything she writes, but this book is her best.
Summer Read Favorite #3 - Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
A vibrant, witty, glorious novel that celebrates modern Britain and black womanhood by tracing the stories, struggles and joys of twelve different characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways. I could have easily read an entire novel about each of the twelve characters. I was left wanting more, but in the best way possible!
Summer Read Favorite #4 - All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
There are so many works of fiction set during World War II, but none are as exquisite as this one. The story moves between a blind girl in Nazi occupied Paris and a young orphan boy growing up in Germany, and brings us to a point when their paths collide. Remember when we talked about being on the edge of your beach chair? Yeah...this book will also have you on the edge of your chair at the beach if you decide to read it when you go!
Other Books We Recommend
Thank you for reading this far! We hope you found a summer read out of our list above that really caught your eye and captivated you.
That's what we're about at Grace Rose Farm - captivation. Creating moments that fit your hearts desire, but that also showcase the natural beauty of people and the world around us.
Did you know books also make an excellent centerpiece for home decor? Don't worry, we have an article about our favorite coffee table books to help you get started!
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Thank you and have a great rest of your day!