Summer travel calls for quality reading time and I’ve got a few recommendations for books to pack on that next trip, whether you’re beachside or just headed to the pool. So grab something refreshing to sip on and enjoy!
1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Categories: Nonfiction, Adventure, Inspiration
Sheryl Strayed recounts her journey to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California, Oregon and Washington, by herself, as a single, 26-year-old who had hit rock bottom after losing her mother, marriage and general direction. Anxious to turn her life around in a drastic way, she sets out on the three-month journey as an inexperienced hiker and naïve outdoorswoman. A talented writer who keeps you eager to turn each page, Strayed tells her story with brutal honesty filled with humor, tears, joy and pain. This is a great book to regain your sense of adventure, inspire and even reflect on what’s important in your own life. After reading it, I had the urge to call my mother, rekindle old friendships and set of for a lengthy hike (this is coming from someone who doesn’t have experience camping outside of cabins). If you haven’t read this New York Times Bestseller and Oprah’s Book Club pick, be sure to add it your summer reading!
2. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Categories: Fiction, Romance
A tangled story of a love affair that began in 1962 on a small Italian coast and crashes into modern Hollywood, Beautiful Ruins tells two stories at once in a poetic way. Old Hollywood meets new, as the story unfolds in a picturesque setting that breaks down language barriers, as well as social norms. You’re immediately whisked to a simpler time and just as quickly back to present day to learn the secrets that have brought an unlikely group together. Real Hollywood actors Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton are folded into the story to help the reader feel as if you’re truly experiencing a behind-the-scenes glimpse into industry glamour and romance. Get washed up into the story, breathe in the salt air of the Italian coast and make sure you’ve got a clear schedule or least lazy afternoons to devote to this story.
3. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Categories: Historical Fiction, Romance
Based on the lives of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, this story whisks you away to the Jazz age, filled with flappers, prohibition, wild parties and luxurious travel. F. Scott meets Zelda in her small hometown in Alabama where he falls madly in love with the free-spirited 17-year-old who can’t be caged by anyone, and especially not her southern roots. The couple later marries and sets out on a journey for New York and later around Europe before returning stateside. What begins as a fairytale in a toxic haze proves that even the best parties must come to an end. Both characters set out to find themselves among changing times, but Zelda specifically struggles with her background and the traditional role of a female, women’s rights and standing by her husband. Desperately in love, the couple navigates influential people, places and cocktails. Z plucks you right out of reality and plops you in the middle of The Great Gatsby, except this time it’s the author of the great novel himself and his wife who are navigating social norms and mounting pressures, told as she may have done so herself.
4. Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Categories: Fiction, Adventure, Romance
Korobi Roy, the novel’s heroine, has always felt a little out of place. Orphaned as an infant and raised in her hometown in India by her grandparents, she always sensed that there was more to her parents’ story. Now she’s found her own love and is eager to make a life of her own, but not without first traveling to America to learn secrets that her parents and grandfather have kept from her for so many years. As she learns more, she struggles with the life and traditions she knew in India and the new self she has discovered – will her fiancé’s privileged family still accept her? While she’s discovering her past in a new country, all of the people she loves are facing their own struggles back in India. The story unfolds with suspense, while a young woman escapes what she has known to find out hard truths. Elegantly written, the story challenges traditions while highlighting the need to preserve them at the same time. This is one you won’t be able to put down.
5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Categories: Fiction, Thrilled, Romance
This is the first novel I’ve read by Flynn but it definitely won’t be the last and from what I understand, this is true to her style – keeping you on the edge of your seat and anxious to learn the mystery of seemingly average Nick and Amy’s relationship. Suddenly Nick is thrown into a real nightmare when Amy disappears and the town slowly starts to point fingers at him. Entries from Amy’s diary are woven in, as a picture of the past few years in suburban Missouri starts to take shape. What started as a happy and inseparable romance in New York City has turned mundane and mistrusting, but could Nick be a killer? Amy has always had everything – good looks, success and the children’s stories from her author parents with her namesake that reflect the perfection of the person, so how did she end up in such a crazy story? Just when you think you’ve got this story figured out, Flynn throws you for a new curve, so be prepared to hold on.