Summer Reading List

If you're like me, the Summer season just begs you to relax, open a book, sip a cool drink and revel in the notion that sunny days and the sound of kids splashing means you get to READ. All year you work your tail off, add titles to your TBR list and dream of the warm days of summer when the kids are out of school and you get to relax your schedule - and turn to the books you couldn't wait to get your hands on.

And yet, sometimes it is overwhelming - "What to read first???"
You don't want to waste your precious reading time with books that you are sorry you chose.
You want books you can get lost in.
Books that make you FEEL something.
Books with characters that you care about.
Stories that compel you to turn the page.

I hear ya.

I've put together a list of ten adult books that are going to be worth your time.

Enjoy your sunny days, cold drinks and great stories, Reader. This is YOUR season.

1. The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill

This is a bittersweet story full of raw imagery and tender moments that will stay with you long after you've read it. Fans of "Lullabies for Little Criminals" will appreciate O'Neill's way of weaving brokenness with hope in a way that is quite beautiful. The love story of Pierrot and Rose made me want to cheer for them and yell out loud at those who opposed them and their unique talents & dreams. A fabulous novel by an esteemed Canadian author.

2. Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

I had seen paintings by Gustav Klimt but had never heard the story behind his wild creative genius and the women he surrounded himself with. This is based on facts, but is a fictional telling of the relationship between Klimt and Adele Bloch-Bauer during the early 1900's and the legacy of his painting of her that became a battle during and after WW2. In a story that is about history, art appreciation, romance and drama during wartime, Albanese does a masterful job of widening the lens of Klimt and the artistic talent that continues too captivate, telling the story through the voice of two relatable women connected by his famous painting of Bloch-Bauer.

3. The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher 

Few films have impacted popular culture like Star Wars, and this book was a delightful behind-the-scenes look at young Fisher's experience starring as the iconic Princess Leia, a role she would be famous for for the rest of her life. There's something about celebrity stories that are especially fun, and I'm so grateful that before she died, Fisher found these diaries of her time on the set of Star Wars, and she was able to share some of her post-Leia experiences for Star Wars geeks like me.

4. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

I am going to warn you, this is not a light, easy-breezy read. It's a real-life account of journalist Amanda Lindhout's experience being kidnapped and held for ransom in Somalia. A native of Sylvan Lake, Lindhout speaks candidly about her world travels, her desire to connect with other cultures around the world and finally her vivid memories of her 19 month abduction in remote areas of Somalia while her family and friends back home lived in fear. It is worth reading. It's unforgettable and will make you look around and feel instantly grateful for your family's safety as you marvel at Lindhout's determination and strength.

5. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Vida Winter is a well-known novelist whose life is clothed in mystery. She has kept her own personal story hidden from the public for years, until now. Before she dies, she seeks a young biographer named Margaret to pen Vida's story, all the gritty, curious truth of it. I enjoyed this story almost as much as I enjoyed how it was written. Setterfield has such respect and fondness for words that she puts them together with a delicate mastery that felt poetic, almost lyrical at times. I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't spoken highly of this novel.

6. I'll See You in Paris by Michelle Gable

Have you heard of the Duchess of Marlborough? I had, but did not know about the intrigue surrounding her real-life story. Told over three generations, through the voice of a variety of characters, Gable tells a story of love, power and the value of knowing who you are in a world that is tying to tell you who you should be. It was a light, fun read and I enjoyed most of the characters. Did it make me want to travel to Europe? Heck, yeah!

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

You have heard of the story, maybe seen a movie or two... but they didn't share the actual story. Shelley was ahead of her time, writing a book about science allowing men to play God and the tragic consequences for both man and man-made creature, begging the question: Who is the Beast? This book was not what I expected, but I was so glad to have read it. It deserves more attention, and once you have finished, you will likely want to discuss its ethical dilemmas like I did!

8. I'll Be Your Blue Sky by Maria de Los Santos

A beautiful love story that tastefully reminded me that in a world of torrid love affairs and stories of domestic thrillers, there are tender stories that find their way into your heart. Told from the perspective of Edith from the 1950's and Clare from the present, both women learn more about who they really are and what they are willing to stand for as they discover love and purpose.

9. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I loved everything about this book. It is the story of Stevens, a butler of the respected Darlington Hall, who is immersed in the proper life of a Butler and travels on a vacation through the English Countryside, reminiscing about his years in service, the changes that have taken place in the service profession, and a friendship with Miss Kenton that carried the buds of romance. The movie stars Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, but the book is a lovely "Downton Abbey" type of read, delightfully written, well worth the Nobel Prize in Literature.

10. Everybody's Son by Thrity Umrigar

Anton is the black Foster Son of a wealthy caucasian couple who later adopt him and raise him up with all the privilege and adoration they felt her deserved. When Anton grows up, he discovers the nature of how he came to be adopted by his parents, and what happened to his birth mother. What happens when you thought you knew who you were, but it was all a lie? Anton struggles with identity, loyalty and integrity in this delightful and unexpected story. As an ex-Foster Parent, this tugged at my heart in many ways and I loved how Umrigar was able to share both sides of the story with such authenticity.

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