If reading were an Olympic sport, I’d be on my way to gold this summer. I am beyond fascinated with books. I prefer them to most TV and movies. I think because I have such a vivid imagination. I like to imagine the characters in my mind. It’s often why I refuse to watch adaptations of stories I’ve loved. I do lean toward fiction, specifically literary and women’s fiction. I rarely read mass fiction or genres like mystery or science fiction – that’s just not my thing. I also love biographies and true crime.
I fell in love with reading early. My mom and grandmother were both voracious readers. I even used to read encyclopedias and dictionaries! I moved quickly from simple books to chapter books. I read a lot of stuff that probably wasn’t suitable for a kid, but I don’t think it corrupted me.
No one ever had to make me read, whether for English class or fun. I even liked the ones others grumbled about like A Tale of Two Cities or anything Shakespeare. Sometimes it wasn’t so easy to understand because we don’t really talk like that anymore, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
So as I said I’ve been burning through books this summer. I haven’t been to the beach or on holiday, but it’s been my escape from the heat. Here’s a quick review of my summer reads.
The Vegas Diaries – Holly Madison
She’s the former playmate who made her debut into fame on reality TV, but she ditched the mansion and headed to find herself in Vegas. I really liked Holly’s first book, which focused on her time at the mansion so I gave her second book a try. Holly has a really clear voice in this book; maybe more so than the first. There are certainly some funny stories, but what I loved the most was how she wove in Vegas history throughout the book. I could tell that the history of a place is important to her. I highly recommend both her books.
The Weekenders – Mary Kay Andrews
This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but she has been a bestseller for quite some time. It’s definitely a beach read. It is actually set in NC so I appreciated that. It’s a bit of mystery meets chick lit. It was somewhat predictable. Most of the characters were either not very developed or were straight from a recipe of how this type of person should be. I was more interested in the main character’s best friend, but she was just the sidekick role. Sometimes we don’t want to work too hard to be entertained so if you don’t this is a good book.
Crazy Rich Asians – Kevin Kwan
This is probably one of my all time favorites! A young professor accompanies her boyfriend for a summer vacation back to his home country of Singapore; only to find out he’s crazy rich. I had little exposure to Singapore or Asian culture before reading this, and I learned a lot while also being entertained. The characters are well drawn; the dialogue is spot on and the descriptions beautifully done. It’s a massive book, but so good, I finished in a weekend. The author grew up in Singapore so it’s truly authentic. This is the first in a series. Will be reading the next one as well. You must read this book!
We Could Be Beautiful – Swan Huntley
This is a debut novel. I read some good reviews so I gave it a shot. It features the ultra rich of NYC centering around a woman who lives off a trust, is unlucky in love and has a mother suffering from dementia. I was pretty turned off by the protagonist. She wasn’t someone I could with whom I could relate. I will say that in any good book, you don’t have to like the characters but be intrigued and interested by them. I was neither. But I’m a sucker for a twist. However, finding out who her new suitor really is wasn’t hard. I did finish the book. The ending tries to tie up everything nicely without making sense. It’s billed as a psychological thriller. I would say it’s more melodrama.
The Last One – Alexandra Oliva
The book starts with a survival reality show then something goes wrong. Something has happened in the outside world, but the main character isn’t sure if it’s real or not. This was a great read. Suspenseful but very character driven. The protagonist was richly developed, and I really empathized with her. I won’t give any more away, but I will say it ends on a bright note.
Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
This is from the author of The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, both of which were great books. The author is Australian and the story is set in Sydney and its suburbs. Three families are having a barbecue on a Sunday afternoon when something happens. You don’t know what that something is until about 300 pages in, but the back story and the development of the characters is worth it. What the characters do and how they react makes sense because you feel like you know them. This was probably my least favorite of the three books I have read, but the characters were real and flawed. It certainly made me think of the consequences of even the smallest mistakes.
Dark Matter – Blake Crouch
I first began familiar with this author when I watched the Wayward Pines last summer. I loved the show and thought I’d check out the books, too. I only read the first one in the trilogy. I preferred the TV show to the book. The book seemed to go on and on during this one scene where the protagonist is trying to make it up a mountain. Anyway, I decided I’d give him another try with his new novel. And I’m glad I did. This book was a definite improvement. It has tones of science fiction, but it is much more than that. The characters are the heart of the book. Also, the big ideas of quantum physics are explained simply so even an English major could understand! The story centers around a college professor who thinks about what his life would have been like had he not married and had a family. What were the other choices that he could have made? What if there are infinite worlds out there with many versions of ourselves that are different simply because of the choices we have made. This book was really well done. Highly recommend.
I also reread 1984 by George Orwell, which seemed fitting in these times. It’s a classic for a reason. Haven’t picked my next book yet. Thinking about non-fiction. I’m anxiously awaiting the publishing of one of my favorite authors Jennifer Weiner’s new book, Hungry Heart, which is a collection of essays. Have any suggestions? Would love to hear what your summer read was.