A collection for your summer and quarantine reading
I remember when I was younger, my mom would enroll me in library summer reading programs during my school vacation. I had always been an avid reader, so I rather disliked being forced to read books of a different genre than I would usually go for, but I always ended up being glad I had branched out. Now, I look back at those summer reading programs fondly.
As an adult, my favorite genres are generally historical fiction, nonfiction, personal development, and some epic fantasy. Thanks to my book club, I've also found some murder mysteries that were interesting reads. Since summer is drawing ever closer -- and most of us are still in some form of quarantine -- I wanted to compile a list of books I've enjoyed over the years, of all genres, and some of which are my all-time favorites, for you to enjoy. A few you will likely have read before, but I hope others will be new to you and will, perhaps, help you discover a new favorite you wouldn't otherwise have picked up. I'm excited to share this with you, my first curated Summer Reading List!
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
Genre: Historical Fiction Sarah Dunant is one of my favorite authors, and Sacred Hearts is my favorite work of hers, narrowly beating out The Birth of Venus. All of her writing is very vivid and her story-telling, poetic (while also managing to be easily understood). Sacred Hearts is a gorgeous and gripping account of convent life on the brink of Counter-Reformation, centering around the story of a girl confined against her will and her relationship with the convent's dispensary mistress. It explores the nuances of human experience and emotion, while also giving a glimpse into the fractured politics of the time.
The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien
You have likely read the Lord of the Rings trilogy (another classic and favorite of mine), but you're less likely to have read The Silmarillion. It's a literary masterpiece that reads like an epic history. Tolkien chronicles the beginning of his universe, including Middle Earth, and gives exquisite detail about the history of Elves and Men. If you like fantasy and gorgeous, imaginative description that both acts as a form of escapism and makes you feel like you've learned something, you will love this book. A fair word of warning, however: this book is quite dense.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography
I only discovered Glennon this year and am so glad I did. Not only is she married to one of my favorite soccer players, Abby Wambach, but her story is moving and inspiring. Untamed is a series of honest and inspiring vignettes about how she and Abby came to be, while also serving as a wake-up call for all of us -- but especially women -- to stop living small to please others. I couldn't put it down.
Big Magic by Liz Gilbert
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
Oh, how I love Liz Gilbert. If you're a creative type of any sort -- and even if you're not -- you will very likely be (dare I say it) shook by this book. In other words, you should just read it. Liz offers a wonderful look at the relationship between us and our creativity, discussing the nature of inspiration, and gives tips on how we can live our most creative lives.
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Yes, you read that right: the author is Tom Hanks. This collection of short stories took me completely by surprise. Each one was delightful and features an antique typewriter in some way -- Tom is a collector. I finished the book in two days.
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Looking for a healthy dose of escapism and humor? Look no further. Terry Pratchett weaves wonderful wit and sarcasm into this feminist fantasy tale. When a dying wizard attempts to pass his powers on in the usual fashion (to an eighth son of an eighth son), he makes a mistake and accidentally passes them to a female, instead. The village witch then takes her under her wing, determined that the girl should have her place among wizards, regardless of her gender. I picked this book up during a dry reading spell and ended up being completely charmed.
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
My partner's mom gave this to me to read when we were all on vacation together at the beach and I finished it in about a day and a half. If you fancy escapism in the form of an easy-to-read thriller, this book is for you. Realtor Annie O'Sullivan is abducted and held captive for one year in a remote location. The story details both her disturbing experiences, her escape, and her efforts to return to normal life in the aftermath of it all.
10% Happier by Dan Harris
Genre: Nonfiction, Self-Help
This book is what ultimately helped me start meditating more regularly. Dan Harris, a news anchor for Nightline, was always firmly non-spiritual, in every sense of the word...that is, until he had a panic attack on live television. 10% Happier chronicles Dan's journey to discover a sense of calm and tools for stress management. It's comical and genuine and offers concrete tips on how to incorporate his findings on meditation and calm into your own life.
Ultimately, I could have listed at least 20 books here, but I need to save some for a future list ;) I hope you enjoy one or many of these picks and have a summer full of reading! Let me know how you get on! Also, I'm always looking for new (or new-to-me) books, so if you have suggestions of your own, feel free to drop me a note in the comments. Happy reading, Beauties!