These 5 titles are hugely entertaining, have broad appeal, and are perfect for the beach, pool, or backyard. (That prevented me from choosing The Royal We, a new release that I think many—but by no means all—of you are going to love, and A God in Ruins, which is the most challenging book in the guide, but is also the best book I’ve read in a while.)
Cornelia is a hopeless romantic, obsessed with the epic love stories portrayed in classic films, but floundering in her own life. Everything changes the day a Cary Grant look-alike walks through the door of the coffee shop she manages. Of course she falls for him, and strikes up an unlikely friendship with his 11-year-old daughter. You can’t help but cheer for these characters as they navigate the tricky waters of friendship, heartbreak, and love. De los Santos is a poet by training, and it shows in her prose. If you love this, good news: there’s a sequel. More info →
This was one of the most popular books on the blog last summer. In the idyllic small town of Three Pines, Quebec, where people don’t even lock their doors, a beloved local woman is found in the woods with an arrow shot through her heart. The locals believe it must be a hunting accident, but the police inspector senses something is off. The story is constructed as a classic whodunit but it feels like anything but, with its deliberate pacing, dry wit, and lyrical writing. A stunningly good first novel. Still Life is the first in a series (of 11 books to date) that keeps getting better. For fans of Jacqueline Winspear. Great on audio. More info →
This Gatsby-esque novel plunges you into the glittering, glamorous streets of Manhattan, circa 1938. Young secretary Katey Kontent and her roommate Evelyn meet handsome Tinker Gray by chance. The girls vie for his affection—until one impulsive decision changes everything. A beautifully drawn story of wealth and class, luck and fate, love and illusion. Warning: this one is hard to put down. A smashing debut. If you love this, try the follow-up novella Eve in Hollywood. More info →
What really makes relationships work? Washington Post weddings reporter McCarthy weighs in with this wise, warm, and relatable collection of essays, based on her interviews with more than 200 couples who’ve walked down the aisle. McCarthy dishes on what she’s learned on the beat, and shares her own insights on love and marriage (and breakups, including the one she endured her first day on the job), in essays bearing titles such as “Screw Meeting Cute,” Don’t Look for Lightning,” and “Top Ten Reasons to Call It Off.” Smart, funny, hugely enjoyable—though her sociologist’s approach will make some of you crazy. More info →
This is Nigerian novelist Adichie’s third novel, but the first I've read. The story centers around a smart, strong-willed Nigerian woman named Ifemelu. After university, she travels to America for postgraduate work, where she endures several years of near-destitution, and a horrific event that upends her world. She finds her way, winning a fellowship at Princeton, and gaining acclaim for her blog, called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black." A highlight: Adichie seamlessly weaves blog posts—about race, national identity, class, poverty, and hair—into the narrative. The novel grapples with difficult issues without becoming overwrought. I would not have read this based on the flap copy, but I was hooked from page one. Haunting, moving, incredibly well done. Terrific on audio. More info →
What books are at the top of YOUR summer reading list?