What’s that, you say?
Mid-summer has long passed?
Sure, mid-August might not typically be considered mid-summer, but this year it is, because around here at least —
summer is going to last
f o r e v e r!
Or at least until the end of September when we will have a few glorious weeks of fall and then winter will come in to crush our souls.
For the past 18 or so years, summer has always had a hard end around the second week of August when we’d have to switch into school mode and get a girl back to college and begin the whirlwind of school-related activities with the other one.
But this year things are different.
And by different, I mean the same as they’ve been since March.
Listen, I’m not happy about the reason for our 2020 extra-long summer, and I’m definitely sad that our lives are on hold and my girls’ paths have been detoured, but this uninterrupted month that will merge effortlessly into September is another silver lining I’m grateful for.
Speaking of silver linings, I don’t think I’ve read this much since the advent of tiny, shiny screens (which I still spend an inordinate amount of time staring at, something I’ve got plenty of lately). I used to get excited about buying a cute new top or a pair of earrings, but lately all I want to do is hoard books and I’m not complaining.
Over the past month, I’ve read some great books with fun, likable characters, captivating storylines, and uplifiting messages. Like I say in my “Great Reads” page (which has a list of a lot of my all-time favorite books, a few of the following which have already joined the list), I tend to stick with Contemporary Fiction and interesting Memoirs, so if you’re looking for Mystery, Historical Fiction, or anything murdery or where a child dies, keep looking.
Here are four more of my favorite books from summer (so far) ~
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Secret, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur
I love a good memoir that reads like fiction. Knowing that the events actually happened — or, at least happened that way in the writer’s memory, which is every bit as accurate in my opinion — makes the story so much more compelling to me.
Wild Game is the kind of book you will begin and then suddenly discover it’s been several hours and you’re hungry and not entirely sure where you are. I was so engrossed in Brodeur’s story from page 1 that I couldn’t put it down, and when I did it was all I thought about. Her life-long, complicated and multi-layered relationship with her mother, the weight of the secret her mother made her keep for decades, and how both of those things shaped and defined her own relationships were all things that were shocking and devastating.
Exquisitely written, Wild Game might not be the most uplifting read, but it was definitely a terrific, engrossing one.
Moving on to something lighter …
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.
Seriously, I couldn’t put it down. Musical Chairs has everything I love in a book: likable, relatable characters, witty dialogue, romance (which isn’t the main plot point), a story just complicated enough to keep you guessing, and pets. Lovable pets.
What’s fun and original about Musical Chairs is Poeppel’s obvious love and incredible knowledge of classical music. The story centers around musicians, and it’s clear Poeppel knows her stuff. Throughout the book, there are so many references to pieces of music, composers, and other tidbits of musical knowledge that I found myself cueing a few of the mentioned pieces up on Spotify.
Musical Chairs is a messy, hilarious, heartfelt story of family, friendship, forgiveness, and finding joy and love in unexpected places, and now firmly has a place on my list of favorite books.
Speaking of messy, heartfelt family stories …
Always the Last to Know by Kristan Higgins
Another unputdownable book!
Kristan Higgins always excels at writing relatable, rich, round characters, and the ones in this book are certainly that!
This book follows a family who experience a complete upheaval when the 75-year-old father has a stroke while riding his bike in the dead of a northeast winter and ends up in a coma, and subsequently with brain damage. The reactions to this tragedy vary for each family member — the devoted wife of forever who has HAD IT with her marriage, the mother’s favorite daughter who isn’t close to her father, and the father’s favorite daughter who isn’t close to her mother. And of course, there’s a former first love thrown in to complicate things.
The story Higgins weaves is, like many of her other books, honest and heartwarming with just the right amount of depth and complexity to keep things surprising. I got swept up in this family from the very beginning and didn’t want their story to come to a (very satisfying) end.
Bonus — Higgins peppers her witty and fast-paced interactions with brilliant dialogue like this:
“Oh, the fuckery of it all.”
Might be my new catchphrase.
Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis
Full disclosure, I’m still smack in the middle of this little book, but I wanted to include it because it’s so dang cute (the cover, certainly, but the story as well)!
So far I’m feeling like it’s a bit predictable and I’m congratulating myself on already having the ending all figured out, but I’ve been hoodwinked before so who knows? Even if I’m right, however, it’s not stopping me from reading it. Set in England and France, I’m loving the regional language and dialogue, and sure, the storyline is a bit My Best Friend’s Wedding (so far) but hey, that was a darling movie, wasn’t it?
This book has all the feels and while it might seem like, at its core, is a book about unrequited love, its really about finding yourself. (I’ve figured all that out after reading only 46% of it, thankyouverymuch.) It’s a rainy day here and I plan to settle in with Emmie Blue and my cats on the couch later to see where her story takes us!
And I reviewed these two in Friday Favorites posts earlier in the summer, but I loved them so much they’re totally worth mentioning again:
The Vanishing Half
I have a list of TBR books I’m excited to start on when I finish Emmie Blue’s story, but please share any books you’ve read and loved with me (and others!) in the comments!