Summer is here, y’all! I’m off to Key West later today, and am taking my fully-stocked Kindle with me. One of the joys of going on trips for me is that I usually have so much time to read! Since I don’t bring my computer with me when I travel (unless it’s a work trip), that means all my downtime in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, and, in this case, on the beach is dedicated to reading. It’s so much fun to escape to another world while you’re actually escaping your own daily routine.
I’ve been reading some great books lately, so I wanted to make sure this post went up today in case you are still in need of a book for your vacation or staycation this long weekend. As always, you can keep up with what I’m reading in real time over on Goodreads!
I also wanted to make note that I’ve been so lucky because over the last year because Random House will send me some of their new titles from time to time. I’m under no obligation to post about them, so I really can tell you my own opinion (good or bad!) about them. This month, I’m reviewing two books that Random House sent over and I’ve starred them with asterisks so you know which ones they are. Any questions about this, let me know!
YOU THINK IT, I’LL SAY IT // CURTIS SITTENFELD*
Curtis Sittenfeld is one of my all-time favorite authors, so I was so excited to tear into her new collection of short stories, You Think It, I’ll Say It. My only complaint is that I didn’t want each story to end! There’s something in here for everyone—one about a former high school mean girl, one about two high school friends who meet up twenty years later, one about the politics of a volunteer organization. Even though each story only takes about 20-30 minutes to read, the characters felt extremely developed and authentic, complete with flaws. This would be a great read for a summer trip since you can easily put it down and pick it back up without having to refresh your memory on too many key plot lines.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely—especially if you’re looking for a book you can easily pick up and put down throughout your day.
THE WEDDING DATE // JASMINE GUILLORY
This was a story about Alexa and Drew, who first meet when they get stuck in the elevator together at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. (I was disappointed Tonga Room wasn’t mentioned!) Drew had been invited to his ex-girlfriend’s wedding and invites Alexa along as his plus-one and fake girlfriend for the night. After a fun night, Alexa heads home to Berkeley and Drew heads back to LA—only to find that maybe their fake romance wasn’t so fake after all. You can probably tell where this story goes, but I thought it was a cute read nonetheless, and loved that Alexa’s career played such a big part in the storyline.
Would I recommend it? I thought this one was just ok. It’d be a good beach read if you like Rom Coms, but I think there are better chick lit reads out there.
THE BRIGHT HOUR // NINA RIGGS
I actually read this moving memoir Nina Riggs wrote as she was dying of breast cancer in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down—and yes, I was crying by the end. Through a series of short vignettes, Nina tells the story of her cancer journey from the day she found out to the day she told her children to the day it metastasized. Her writing is beautiful—what a legacy to leave behind. The only thing that bothered me was how often she named dropped that she is a descendent of Ralph Waldo Emerson—but hey, I bet if I was, I probably would, too.
Would I recommend it? 100%! I would also recommend When Breath Becomes Air as the widow and widower of these two authors are now dating—a real-life story I love!
ROMANCING THE THRONE // NADINE JOLIE COURTNEY
This would be the perfect post-royal wedding read! High-school-aged sisters Charlotte and Libby Weston both fall for Edward, the prince and heir to the British throne after they begin attending boarding school together for the first time ever. Charlotte meets and romances Edward first, and when Libby comes, she wants to bring her sister into her new elite social circle. Only she notices a budding friendship between Libby and her boyfriend—and drama ensues. Though this was a pretty predictable read, I really enjoyed the storyline and like to think of it as “royal fan fiction.”
Would I recommend it? Yes—especially if you liked The Royal We.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE // CELESTE NG
I was really excited to read Little Fires Everywhere since it’s seemingly on every “good reads” roundup as of late. The story is set in Shaker Heights, a well-to-do, quiet, conservative suburb outside of Cleveland. The Richardsons family life is shaken up when artist and vagabond, Mia Warren, and her daughter Pearl, show up in town and move into the Richardson’s rental property. All four Richardson children are somehow drawn to this mother/daughter pair, and intrigued by the mystery surrounding the Warrens lives. While I love how this novel examined all sorts of mother and daughter relationships, I thought it was hard to get into for the first half of the book and then the ending left me wanting more. I’m glad I read it so I can be a part of water cooler conversations on it, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
Would I recommend it? If you want to be a part of the conversation around this book, sure. Otherwise, I think there are better reads out there.
IN CONCLUSION, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT // LAUREN GRAHAM*
This short, 30-minute read is an adaptation of the commencement speech Lauren Graham gave at her alma mater, Langley High School. I’ve long been a Lauren Graham fan, and even went to the book signing of Talking As Fast As I Can. This did not disappoint, and I wanted to share my favorite quote from the whole book, “Maybe it’s not acting for you. Maybe it’s baseball or coding or taking care of kids. But whatever path you choose, whatever career you decide to go after, the important thing is that you keep finding joy in what you are doing, especially when the joy doesn’t find you. Treat everyday like you’re starring in it. Don’t wait for permission or good reviews. If you can do that, you’ll be surprised by how far you might end up sailing.”
Would I recommend it? YES! This would also be a super cute graduation gift idea.
ALL THE NAMES THEY USED FOR GOD // ANJALI SACHDEVA
Exciting stuff—I’m actually reading this collection of short stories because Monica is hosting a DC branch of Jen Shoop’s book club in a couple of weeks that I’m attending. It’s a great choice for a book club since each story stands alone—even if you don’t finish them all, you can still contribute to the discussion on the ones you did read. That being said, at the time of writing this post, I’ve read about half of the stories, and while they are all beautifully written, I’m having a hard time engaging with them because they are devastating and a little bit strange. I know both sadness and strangeness mimic life, and maybe because I’m reading them at night before bed I’m having a hard time digging for ways to make them relatable to my daily life. (The privilege of that statement is not lost on me!)
Would I recommend it? Personally, I’d stick to You Think It, I’ll Say It if you’re looking for a good collection of short stories.