Hellooo World! Summer is (almost) here! And that means summer reading is, too. I’ve read and reviewed some of the must-read books for this summer. Wherever your adventures take you (even if it’s no further than your own backyard), I’ve compiled some of my favorite reads for your go-to list for summer reading 2018!
1. Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
“Dear friend, You are not a freak. You are wanted. You are necessary. You are the only you there is. Don’t be afraid to leave the castle. It’s a great big world out there. Love, a fellow reader”
This book shocked me with how much I enjoyed it! Holding Up the Universe is about Libby and Jack. A couple years back Libby had gained so much weight that she needed to be rescued from her house to be saved. Jack has a secret, he cannot recognize faces, not even his own.
This book stirred up quite a controversy before its release because people found the synopsis offensive. But the more the issue grew, the more I got so pulled to the book that I just had to buy it when it was out on our local bookstores. This time, my gut feeling was right and the book is completely worth all my curiosity.
Let me help you all out by pointing straight out what the book is so as to avoid judging it just by its blurb alone.
But before that, just an excerpt from the book about “judging” *winks*:“Life is too short to judge others. It is not our job to tell someone what they feel or who they are. Why not spend some time judging yourself? I don’t know you, but I can guarantee you have some issues you can work on. And maybe you’ve got a fit body and a perfect face, but I’ll wager you have insecurities too…”
What the book is:
- A contemporary romantic novel so yes, it could be cheesy with several cheesy romantic declarations a girl wouldn’t normally hear from a guy [Now if you don’t like this stuff, then it’s probably not for you. ;)]
- It’s about mental illness. Both Libby and Jack suffer from unique sorts of mental illness. Libby suffered from depression while Jack has face-blindness or prosopagnosia.
- A serious read but approached with light, almost comic writing style that addresses social issues with positive conviction and inspiration.
- A moving, uplifting story that encourages people to be comfortable in their own skin, in their physical appearance/condition because that is what makes every person uniquely beautiful.
2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
I took up reading this book in the very little time I had to myself at work and I would say it was definitely worth it! CUTE CUTE CUTE. THIS BOOK HAD ME GUSHING WITH ITS ADORABLENESS.
So this story follows a guy named Lincoln who works in IT – Lincoln’s job is to monitor the emails of all of the employees at his workplace. Not long into the job the emails of two women, in particular, keep getting flagged by the system, so when an email gets flagged it is Lincoln’s job to read it and send a warning (employees are not meant to use their work emails for personal conversations). But a problem arises when Lincoln not only neglects to send a warning – he inherently seeks out the emails of these women and reads them most nights. He becomes wrapped up in their lives and feels like he knows them – that sounds really creepy but it’s actually quite sweet! Completely to Lincoln’s surprise, he begins to have feelings for one of the women – although he has never actually met her!
This really solidified for me that Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite writers! She’s phenomenal! For me, it comes to one key point: she builds real people. Her characters don’t feel like characters, they don’t feel fake or made up. They’re really people with unique quirks and imperfections and beauty and it’s so easy to be sucked into reading her books because I feel like I actually know these people!
This book, particularly, was cute and lovely. I thought the mails back and forth were hilarious and adorable and I thought that Lincoln’s maturing was really well done. I really loved how tenderly the author weaned Lincoln from his self-imposed isolation. A much more profound novel than expected. An insightful, well thought out one. It’s insanely engrossing, and I haven’t the slightest idea why it’s so immensely comforting.
3. It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
This book left me completely speechless. It’s why this review will be far from eloquent and admittedly a little short. I’ve been staring at the cursor as it blinks in silence on my computer screen, trying to come up with a review for this unbelievably complex, astonishingly real, and heart-wrenching novel. I can’t decide what I want to tell you and I think that’s because I really don’t want to tell anything at all.
I went into It Ends with Us with a clear head and absolutely no idea of what was going to happen. It’s best that way. This novel is one of those reads that simply knocks you out cold. It’s a heavy-handed, physical blast to the feels (aka: emotions). You cannot catch your breath while reading. It’s settled you into an easy reading pace, makes you feel good, cocoons you in it’s warmth, and then when you think you’re happy and safe, you’re not.
It EVISCERATES you.
It tears you down piece by piece until you’re left confused, torn, broken, thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening. I don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.”
I still can’t get over it. I still can’t process the fact that it threw me so off center. And when I describe this book to people, I keep repeating, “It’s heartbreaking but hopeful.” And I know that doesn’t seem really comforting. It doesn’t tell you much at all.
But here’s the thing, I don’t want to get into Ryle or Atlas or Lily or the characters in this book. I don’t want to break them down piece by piece. I don’t want to plant seeds or ideas in your head. I don’t want to influence your reading experience. I want you to go in. I want you to READ. I want you to EXPERIENCE it with the same innocence and naivety that I did.
I want you to LIVE this through Lily’s eyes, heart, and mind just like I did. And I feel as though saying anything to you, about anything, is a spoiler. And that is why this review is so pathetic. It’s why this review is a short, hot mess.
If you need me I’ll be sweeping up all the pieces of my shattered heart. Dear God! It’s amazing how you can read a story that is simultaneously gut-wrenching and beautiful.
4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Color me surprised. I’m not a fan of historical fictions, especially when they don’t include any fantasy elements. They read like nonfiction, and nonfiction is only good for me if I’m in need of sleep. B-but…
The Help is different. It doesn’t only describe the life of housemaids, in the second half of the 20th century, in Mississippi; it’s overflowing with raw emotion. It doesn’t put every white person in a box and every black person in another… It underlines the difference of thought between people, but also how similar we actually all are. We all want to live our lives the best way possible and be treated with respect.
“We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”
This novel did so many things to me.
The underlying themes of the story are extraordinary and that alone should make everyone want to read this book. Equality. Freedom. Racism. Respect. They’re all so fascinating because they are cleverly developed and included and intertwined in a way that makes this story such a precious and worth perusing one.
5. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
“No, I’m not a saint, Sophie. I’m just another stupid human.”
This book is my first Markus Zusak. I haven’t read his more famous “The Book Thief”, but this book has made me a fan of his writing!
“I am the Messenger” is the kind of book where some proverbial hand will just give your heart a soft squeeze. It’ll hurt you a little but you won’t complain because it’s the good kind of hurt.
The premise of the book intrigued me. We have Ed Kennedy, an ordinary 19-year-old guy who finds himself in the middle of a bank robbery along with his three best friends. After the incident, his life changes dramatically when Ed finds a mysterious playing card in his letterbox with three addresses on it. From here on out, Ed acts as a messenger, delivering to each and every person on the playing card what they need.
This book is a must-read. It’s not pretentious. It’s not supercilious. It’s just a simple story for those who want their faith in humanity restored.
There are a lot of wonderful quotes from this book. Here are some of my favorites:
“Sometimes people are beautiful. Not in their looks. Not in what they say. Just in what they are.”
“Maybe everyone can live beyond what they’re capable of.”
6. Q & A by Vikas Swarup
I came late to the party – very late. Fortunately, I’d not seen the film either (still haven’t, but now I hope to), so my impressions of the book are untainted and without any movie-derived preconceptions.
The book is cleverly constructed and offers a whirling kaleidoscope of India a tourist never sees, except for the Taj Mahal – and then you get an unregistered guide’s perspective. From the tragedy and the despair of sprawling slums, to the cheek by jowl living in a chawl, to the darting touches of ever-optimistic, aspirational India, Vikas Swarup shares his India with the world. For this alone it is an amazing read.
There are moments of hilarity, volumes of excellent social observation, some quiet wit and some heavy-handed puns. There are a couple of great twists. By the end, I felt that I’d enjoyed a literary banquet.
Be warned, there are some unpleasantly true-to-life passages and pages. To give a list of specific cautions would spoil the book, so I will just say that these parts are not recommended for sensitive readers.
In the end, I call this a wonderful read, which I was unable to put down until I’d finished.
7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I’m not going to do my usual thing where I’d try to explain what I liked about this book. Normally, I would try to convince you why you should read it. I would speak about how important this book is and what message it could impart to its readers around the world. I would even say how it affected me personally. Today I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I will simply say that I loved this book. I loved its characters. I loved its plot. And I loved the eloquent way in which Harper Lee wrote it. It made me laugh and it made me cry. Her words are real and her story is the truth.
This book is one of the wisest, most finely crafted, pieces of prose fiction I have ever read.