18 Days of Summer
Now that summer has come, I am sharing a list of 18 books for your summer reads that are probably not on your radar because they are not necessarily getting bestseller list buzz. But you know what? Reading the same books as everyone else is BORING. And, you can find those easily on your own. I’m giving you a diverse list of authors and books to explore. Now, you can be that cool person who shares an interesting find with your friends and family who are relying on bestseller lists for their reading ideas.
Young Adult (for adults and teenagers)
If you are looking for a mysterious fantasy series, look no further than the dark and creepy fairy tale that is The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Speaking of dark, Scythe by Neal Schusterman is a dystopian thriller, in which the perfect world has been created. Perfection comes at a cost and now they need to facilitate when life should end to control population. This series introduces us to the newest two apprentices who did not choose this job. In yet another futuristic world, death is also the focus of They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera where you get 24 hours notice of your impending death. Feeling sad and want to have a spectacular last day? There is an app (of course there is) that allows you to find someone else with the same End Day so that you can experience one last great adventure. This inclusive read features a queer relationship. Diverse themes and characters also led to my final two picks. Pride by Ibi Zoboi is a modern Pride & Prejudice telling set in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood with African-American characters. There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon is a body-positive Indian American teen romance story where Ashish and Sweetie struggle with the balance of meeting their parents’ traditional expectations and following their own dreams.
Showcasing diverse characters and voices also guided some of my choices here. My first pick is Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. An Arizona author, Bowling has a great message about kindness in her story of children seeking a “normal” life and friendships despite their disabilities. Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez is part of a mythology and folklore series produced by Rick Riordan to feature own voices. This one is based in Cuban traditions and myths. The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is excellent World War II historical fiction for all ages. Ada and Jamie escape their cruel mother (trigger alert for child neglect and abuse) when they are evacuated from London to the country. It’s about bravery, second chances, and finding sanctuary. The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart is a bit of a road trip adventure, but it is also about grief and figuring out how to move forward and hold onto memories.
I’m going to start with My Boyfriend Is a Bear, a graphic novel, by Pamela Ribon. Listen, even if you think you aren’t a graphic novel kind of person, you need to check this one out. It is a hilarious commentary on 21st century dating, and I giggled all the way through. Continuing to nudge you out of your comfort zone, I am going to suggest you try The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. It is the perfect read for those who grew up on Harry Potter. Our heroine, Rin has some of the same appealing characteristics - a misfit, underdog orphan with magical powers who surprises everyone and never quits. In this case, she receives the top score on a competitive test that gains her entrance to the most elite military academy in the land. With its backstabbing, competitive provinces, and war to control land and precious resources, there are also touches of Dune and Game of Thrones. Similarly, if you’ve read Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, then you know he is able to write intriguing science fiction that is liked by those who normally don’t read this genre because they read like thrillers. Crouch has done it again this summer with Recursion about a strange disease affecting people’s memories. Along with the mystery and science fiction elements, you will find stories of families and love. Continuing with the thriller/suspense theme, pick up Force of Nature. Jane Harper is amazing with creating atmosphere with her remote Australian settings and then weaves in a quiet, but suspensful murder mystery. Added bonus - if you like this one, there are two more to pick up and read. I’m ending on a lighter note with Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. Even though it is set during World War II London blitz, its comedic moments outweigh the sad bits. Well-intended Emmy secretly hijacks Mrs. Bird’s advice column when she disagrees with her rules for responding to problems. With strong friendships and some romance, it covers all the bases you might want in a good summer read.
I picked another graphic novel because I’ve found that memoirs are a great way to get comfortable with this format because of the realism. The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui is about a family’s escape from the Vietnam War in the 1970’s. If this topic doesn’t interest you, just know there are a ton of graphic memoirs with different styles and topics we could put in your hands. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson is quirky and interesting true crime story that pulls you into the world of fly fish tying and people who are willing to pay big money for rare feathers. I am often a sucker for memoirs that are written as a series of loosely connected essays. Add some Southern charm, a potty mouth, and the ability to be relatable to readers, and you have I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott. I will end on a somber note with an important read: Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff. Written because Zuckoff discovered that this generation of college students have little awareness of these events, it is a detailed account of how the day unfolded. It is beautifully written and will break your heart as he humanizes many of the countless victims by sharing significant and mundane details of their lives leading up to that horrible day. It is also enlightening in understanding all the communication challenges and misunderstandings of the time.