Exams are upon us and summer break is rapidly approaching, which means everybody’s minds are occupied by thoughts of studying and the plans that await them the moment that studying is over, or, just the fun plans if you’re being honest with yourself. Despite the promise of open bars and live concerts, it’s been a long year, and a couple of days with minimal obligations, whether social or school-related, are inherently necessary. Whether you’re laid out by a pool, tucked away in a garden, or situated on a beach, but consider picking up a book, maybe one that’s been on the “to read” list for too long or one you were gifted for Christmas but didn’t have the time to commit. If you haven’t even been to a bookstore or can’t stand the sight of a library after exams, fear no more, because a book on this list might just inspire you to read something other than history textbooks and eighteenth century literature. You can finish these books in a day, or space them out for the duration of your vacation – whatever the setting, these books are perfect for taking a break from your summer break.
The Creative Crime Story:
If you’re looking for something slightly more sinister, look no further than The Dinner by Herman Koch. Masterfully paced, readers are brought along to a family dinner where a dirty secret waits to be discussed. A book about how far parents will go to protect their children, I was definitely reminded of Defending Jacob without the procedural aspect, and the concept is one of the most creative I’ve read in a long time. The tension is literally palpable and the language will stick with you long after you’ve put it down, and you’ll likely be left questioning everything you think you understand about family.
The Chill Coming of Age:
When you hear the title, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, you’ll probably think of yourself sipping fruity drinks on the coast of some island. That’s not exactly what our protagonist has in mind when she embarks on a hilarious, heartbreaking, and weirdly beautiful journey to reevaluate her life after college. Author Ottessa Moshfegh creates the ultimate New York girl and breaks her down to her most basic, somehow writing a study and a coming of age story that is extraordinary in its normalcy. It’s unconventional but real, and I genuinely cannot wait to read more of Moshfegh’s writing.
The Science Fiction Meets Comedy:
If you finish Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and think “what on earth did I just read?” then I am fairly sure you read it correctly. This book is just fun, it’s satirical, it’s comedic, and it’s endearing, in its own confusing way. Every character is eccentric, every setting fantastical, so if the apocalyptic tales of a writer on the search for a chemical capable of freezing the earth over piques your interest… I suggest you just dive right in. Ultimately it’s layered and intelligent, a critique of all kinds of modern institutions, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and that comedy is what has made it timeless.
The Relatable Romance:
If romances are more your summer read, then you’re in luck – kind of. Normal People by Sally Rooney will have you smiling and then in tears within the space of a couple pages, and it’s what I love about it. At this point, I think everyone has heard of this book or watched the series, and I am here to tell you that it is all 100% worth it. The span of time which Rooney covers and her ability to do so both beautifully and truthfully is astounding. Normal People is not a normal romance by the industry’s standards, but in reality, I think everyone can relate to Connell and Mariaanne in some form, and that’s what makes it both heartbreaking and joyous at the same time.
It’s the season of the summer book club, and the sheer array of novels recommended to middle aged women by Reeese Withersppon and Oprah actually blow my mind. However, you have to admit they have amazing taste, because Reese’s recent recommendation, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, lives up to the hype. Two very different worlds collide when the lives of an influencer and her babysitter are forced to entangle deeper than surface-level, and each has to reconsider what they know about themselves and each other. It’s real and it’s relevant, and it’s just plain well-written, and if I can’t convince you to read it, maybe you’ll listen to the countless awards and renowned recognition it has received.
This summer, take a minute to be productive without feeling like you’re doing work – get lost in someone else’s problems, their world, their dramatic event that turns their life upside down and changes them forever…you catch my drift. Regardless, you can choose to read for the sake of education or escapism or what have you, and it’s a perfect way to spend those days where you’re not experiencing the reopening of life as we know it. I promise you’ll learn something about yourself, the world, and worst-case scenario, you can say you read a book this summer!