I am shameless when it comes to judging books by their covers. Living alone this summer gave me a lot of quiet time. If the amount I talk is any indication of my inner monologue, you’ll understand why I can’t sit alone with my thoughts all that long. Plus, a girl can only take so much quiet time in a creaky old house (more on that here)! Podcasts and audiobooks came to my rescue when trying to fall asleep, painting, cooking dinner, brushing my teeth, laying on my bed contemplating the concept of life and existence itself… pretty much all the time.
I entered summer with the very best of intentions of reading loads of books and reaching my full potential as an “intellectual.” I’m a total cheater, though, and listened to a lot of the titles on my list instead. Don’t get me wrong, I like to read, but I like feeling like I’m getting something done more.
With only a few week left of summer (*sheds a single tear*), time to read is in short supply. I’ve done the hard part of putting together a list of books for you. First and foremost, they passed my cover test and I guess their plots were pretty okay too. If I were you and only had time for one book this summer, one of these would definitely be worth it.
For the fantasy and magic fanatic:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I bought The Night Circus at my town’s farmer’s market for a single dollar. This book is Exhibit A of my cover-judging book purchasing habits. It turned out to be quite the jackpot of a mystical adventure novel.
The Night Circus is one of those books that makes you so excited to hear one of your friends is reading it because you’re dying to talk about how clever it is with someone. It starts out a bit slow, but it’s so worth sticking it out as the plot unfolds. I’m gonna be careful not to verge into spoiler territory here. Two magicians have been pitted against each other in a deadly competition straight from birth, but when they cross paths, their lives are complicated even further– as if having wackadoo magical abilities, no friends, and tiger-parents that make you practice your magic 24/7 wasn’t enough.
One of my favorite things about The Night Circus is that the magic is not arbitrary wand waving (no hate to my potterheads out there), but a cause-and-effect, energy-driven force. Every action has a reaction and, BOY, are there some unexpected reactions at the circus.
With luxurious imagery abounding, I felt like I was transported to a candle-lit square in 1800s Paris every time I opened the book. When I was on the go, I listened to the audio version narrated by Jim Dale (the voice of the Harry Potter series). And I swear that man could make a box of rocks sound like the most enticing thing on the planet.
For the Grey’s Anatomy addict:
Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
In a post a few months back, I suggested books based on Netflix preferences, but Queen of Hearts is right on the money for Grey’s fans. Kimmery Martin is a doctor in real life and after hearing “Is there really that much drama as a doctor? Wow, you ought to write a book about that” enough times, she wrote this book.
Zadie and Emma, two high achieving doctors and mothers of little ones, are living their best lives in Charlotte, North Carolina until an ugly reminder of the past suddenly appears. The women alternate narrating the story both in present day and flashbacks to their college and med-school days.
The story is heartbreaking and heavy, but the writing itself isn’t super dense. So while it’s emotional at times, it’s the proper amount of drama to pair perfectly with a beach day and a ~beverage~.
For the fun-loving feminist:
Dear Mrs. Bird by A.J. Pearce
World War II is hands down my favorite historical era to read about. It’s such a fascinating time, and lucky for me, it has stacks of beautifully written books set during it.
I would love to be friends with Emmy, a writer and a general badass who takes it upon herself to start answering the advice column submissions sent in to her stick-up-the-bum boss. Chaos is quick to follow. If there’s one thing that turns me off from a book, it’s a stupid protagonist. Emmy is clever and way ahead of her time in her worldview. She lives by the mantra of “be afraid then do it anyway,” which I for sure could use a little more of in my life.
P.S. Since I can’t resist a well narrated audio-book, I’d be absolutely remiss not to mention that Anna Popplewell (Susan from The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe) performs Dear Mrs. Bird. Even if you read it on your own, imagine her voice as Emmy. I guarantee you’ll like it even better that way.
For the free-spirited foodie:
Sourdough by Robin Sloan
I’m just a quirky gal and I wanna do quirky things with my friends!!!! In Sourdough, a kindred spirit, Lois, follows a calling to become a sourdough bread baker after ordering in from a mysterious ethnic restaurant. She is gifted the starter (a little bit of fermented flour and water used to, well ya know, start a batch of bread) for sourdough and it’s all funky-town from there.
The starter is a character in itself and loves big metal bowls, the Music of the Mozg, long walks on the beach…sorry, I’m getting carried away here. With the responsibility of keeping the starter alive, Lois discovers an entirely different San Francisco than the one she’s always know. Her life takes a 180 from working in a hipster tech start up in an old warehouse to trying to sell bread at a hipster market in an old warehouse.
She joins the “Lois Club,” for women named Lois (of course) and grapples with the decision to accept life as it is or to break out of the box she’s let the world keep her in. On every page of this book I thought “it can’t get quirkier,” but then it does.
For the hopeless historic romantic:
The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White
I swore I would never come within a five mile radius of a book about the Lusitania after being forced to read a 600 page text book posing as a novel in high school. The blurb and the cover of The Glass Ocean were intriguing enough to win me over, and I made an exception.
It’s a little hard to keep up with, since there are three intertwined story lines. Tessa and Caroline, two passengers of the Lusitania on polar opposite ends of the societal spectrum, and Sarah, an author with family ties to the tragic voyage and the desperate need for a story. Full disclosure: I was extra sleepy the week I was listening to it, so I may or may not have fallen asleep at the end of chapters when they revealed the critical plot points. (I rewound probably upwards of twenty times after unintentional nap incidents– whoops).
I want to make it clear that this book was not boring. I’m just a tired girl! I promise! I learned more about World War I, an era I don’t know much about, and was inspired to do something meaningful and exciting! But I took another nap instead. 🙂
Which of these seems most appealing to you? Comment below to let me know, suggest another book, or just say hi! Happy reading!
**I do not own the rights to the cover art featured in this post.