Summer books to add to your reading list

A list of recommended books for summer reading from some contributors

Some recommended books to read this summer. (Unsplash/Bethany Laird)

Where the Crawdads Sing 

Winter is seen as the time to sit by the fire and cozy up to a good book, but what about summer? Although summer is the season known for spending time outdoors and soaking up the sun, it’s also a great opportunity to catch up on some bestselling novels. 

Whether you read Where the Crawdads Sing at the beach or by a marsh in North Carolina, Delia Owens debut novel will have you intrigued long after the final page. 

The story follows Kya Clark, otherwise known as the “Marsh Girl,” between the years 1952 to 1969 — the year Chase Andrews is found murdered. After being abandoned by her family at the age of six, Kya is forced to become self-sufficient, living off grits and observing the insects and animals around her. Considered a freak by the people of Barkley Cove, Kya has unimaginable disadvantages in front of her. 

Unable to receive proper schooling due to her fears of being taken away from her beloved marsh by truant officers, Kya attempts to educate herself on her own. As the years go by, she takes up a friendship with Tate Walker, a local town boy who teaches her how to read and write every day after school. Kya learns quickly and Tate encourages her to study biology. 

Once Tate sets off to college, Kya feels isolated more than ever before until she catches the attention of Chase, the town’s popular quarterback. Chase visits her in secrecy from the town locals, promising a future with her, and they slowly begin a romantic relationship. 

Years later Chase is found dead and the town accuses Kya of murdering him. Kya must face trial against the town people who have wronged her from the very beginning. Similarly to when she was a child, with no chance in the world, Kya must defend herself and her marsh before it’s too late. 

I enjoy this read because of its unique style and the way it falls into two genres as a coming of age story and a mystery/suspense. I also liked the way Owens’ intersperses between 1950s Kya to present day 1970s Kya, a murder suspect, because it feels like reading two completely different novels. 

As a fan of bildungsromans, this novel not only hits the mark, but creates a likeable character from a young girl to a young woman, with a twist on the final page that will surprise even the most intuitive reader. 

Although the novel spends a lot of time on Kya’s childhood, I feel it’s integral to the story and helps readers understand where she is coming from. Whether she steps on a rusty nail as a child or protects herself from becoming a rape victim as a young woman, Kya’s resiliency to survive is incredible and is ultimately empowering to read.

However, out of all the other characters, Kya is the only one that is continuously interesting. It would have been nice if Owens had fleshed out Tate and Chase’s motives more and stayed away from the clichés like love triangles and the good boy versus the bad boy trope. 

If this doesn’t entice you enough to buy a copy of Where the Crawdads Sing, you are in luck because a movie adaption produced by Reese Witherspoon will be released in theatres July 22. 


The Unhoneymooners  

It is any book lover’s ideal day to chill by the pool or at the park and spend the day reading. But sometimes finding a good book can be hard, especially if you are taking summer classes and your time is already consumed by reading textbooks and writing essays. 

This book is fun, refreshing, light, romantic, and embodies the summer vibes. Not only does it have an enemy to lovers romance, but also incorporates a disastrous wedding, and involves some lovely banter between the characters while taking place in Hawaii. 

In The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren readers follow Olive Torres, a woman who has no luck in her career, love life, or family. What makes it even worse is that her twin sister, Ami, is the complete opposite and perhaps the luckiest person Olive knows. Especially when Ami’s relationship started with a meet cute basically out of a romantic comedy, and she managed to finance her entire wedding by winning contests. 

When everyone in the wedding party gets food poisoning on the wedding day, Olive is forced to go on her sister’s Hawaiian honeymoon with the only other person who hasn’t gotten sick who happens to be her long-time nemesis and the groom’s best man, Ethan. 

Because no one in their right mind would turn down an all-paid holiday to a tropical paradise, an interaction with a boss and a little white lie forces Olive and Ethan to pretend to be the intended newlyweds. There are twists and turns, but most importantly a woman finds her luck in life. While she finds love, she also discovers more of herself that was long forgotten due to comparing herself with her sister and how to live adventurously.

Even if you don’t love romance novels, this book is awesome to get you in the vibe of summer. Set in a tropical location that everyone needs right about right now, Lauren’s writing immerses the most apprehensive reader.

So, grab your sun hat, your sunscreen, a cup of tea, and escape with this Hawaiian romance. 


Shatter Me series

Now that summer is right around the corner, what could be a better way to spend your time than to read a good book. Flip through its pages under a tree on a sunny day or snuggle inside a blanket on a rainy day, a book will always be ready to transport you to another world.

So, have you heard of Sector 45? One of my favorite worlds to live in is the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. This is a six-book series with five companion books that tells the story of Juliette Ferrars, a 17-year-old girl born with a lethal touch. 

In the first book of the series, Juliette has been locked up in an asylum for almost a year since she accidentally caused the death of a young boy. For a long time, society became a barren non-thriving land because of the constant war and corrupt government called the “Reestablishment” that they were under. Knowing of her ability, they want to use her as a weapon to dominate other sectors and to eliminate the impending rebellion. 

You will find yourself reading through the pages so fast and occasionally holding your breath because of the twists and turns that leave you hanging in each chapter. 

I first read it in 2015, during the time dystopian young adult novels like Divergent and The Hunger Games sent people into a frenzy either because the movie adaptation came out or the next book came out after many months of an agonized wait. 

While I was waiting for the other series I was reading at the time, I stumbled upon Shatter Me, because of its aesthetically pleasing cover and the crossed-out word design. The style was written from the perspective of the character, in particular Juliette’s. 

The crossed-out sentences, which imitate the thoughts she has but hesitates to say, are a good touch to the story because it resembles her doubtfulness and worries with herself and with the people around her. 

As the story goes on, we can see how she slowly gains confidence and acceptance with her past, which then turns her into a powerful and steadfast character. Her character development, from being brittle and scared into a strong lady, empowers the reader and can make you feel like you can conquer anything life throws at you. 

There’s action, mystery, thriller, and romance. You will get attached and adore the other main characters, Adam and Warner — Juliette’s love interests in the series. These characters have crazy amounts of chemistry, and their opposite personalities create an emotional tug-of-war towards the reader too, as if you are standing at a crossroads with Juliette. They are both essential in realizing her full potential and worth, but they have different principles they are standing behind. 

This book is definitely a must read if you are into these types of genres. It keeps you hooked and antsy for what’s next. You will develop crushes on some fictional characters here and there, but that’s definitely part of the experience. And if you grow fond of the first book, the rest of the series is now finished and it’s an easy grab from the shelves. 


It Ends With Us

I broke my pattern of reading over the last two years. From being an avid reader to struggling to find a book I can read from start to finish has been a full-fledged journey, until I found It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover. 

I am often hooked with the non-fiction genre for real live events that have inspired me more than a creative fiction narrative. However, this is one of the books that I found at the romance shelf, and I would highly recommend reading this book for its story composition. 

The story follows Lily who grows up in a small town in Maine and chases her dreams in a city where she graduates from college. The book unfolds many themes that are unveiled throughout the story, and one of them is to keep swimming. It means that life goes on and inspires the perspective that in spite of different waves life may send you, we should always keep swimming. 

The story revolves around a woman’s struggle to break the astronomical cycle of abuse. Hoover writes about different characters in the book, each of them having a strong personality of their own. Hoover draws experiences from her life to portray characters in the book, with good and bad traits. Like a conventional book, this one has no villain, but all characters have their own flaws.

I finished reading this one last week, and it’s one of the best books I have come across. It is like yin and yang, — good and bad  — where wrong and right are part of the same circle.

Hoover’s narrative of storytelling is a masterpiece of how she uses diary notes to tell about her past and her inspiration driven by Ellen. You may feel like you are peeking into Lily’s life and find yourself stuck to the viewfinder.

Domestic violence, abuse, jealousy and donation are some other themes the book unfolds. With normalcy beginning to bloom this summer, and the hope that summer in British Columbia might be wet and cool, it is time to read again. 

The book’s narrative challenges the practicality of life, where good and bad people exist, but in Hoover’s book, there were none. To quote the book: “There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”