Hot summer reads!

I fell so far behind with my 2018 reading challenge, I ended up reducing my goal number to 30. DON’T JUDGE ME. There simply hasn’t been time to do diddly squat! I haven’t read too many memorable books for this round. I’d love to know what you’ve been reading. Once again, my favourite book is last. (My favourite reads this year seem to be all YA books. Common theme?)

The Deep End of the OceanThe Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Quick summary

Few first novels receive the kind of attention and acclaim showered on this powerful story—a nationwide bestseller, a critical success, and the first title chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. Both highly suspenseful and deeply moving, The Deep End of the Ocean imagines every mother’s worst nightmare—the disappearance of a child—as it explores a family’s struggle to endure, even against extraordinary odds. Filled with compassion, humor, and brilliant observations about the texture of real life, here is a story of rare power, one that will touch readers’ hearts and make them celebrate the emotions that make us all one.

Three-line review

I will never trust Oprah’s judgement again after reading this book. The most unlikeable characters. I read the audiobook on my long walks to and from the hospital. I can’t help but wonder if the narrator’s voice had something to do with my annoyances. (Although the rest of my book club hated it too.)

☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Quick summary

Here is a gorgeous, slow-burning story set in the rural “badlands” of northern Ontario, where heartbreak and hardship are mirrored in the landscape. For the farming Pye family, life is a Greek tragedy where the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, and terrible events occur—offstage.

Centerstage are the Morrisons, whose tragedy looks more immediate if less brutal, but is, in reality, insidious and divisive. Orphaned young, Kate Morrison was her older brother Matt’s protegee, her fascination for pond life fed by his passionate interest in the natural world. Now a zoologist, she can identify organisms under a microscope but seems blind to the state of her own emotional life. And she thinks she’s outgrown her siblings—Luke, Matt, and Bo—who were once her entire world.

Three-line review

My Mom randomly gave me this book and I felt guilted into reading it, but it was actually super enjoyable. Lovely characters, and a beautiful story. Although Lawson couldn’t have possibly dragged out that Pye family story any longer, it was worth the wait.

☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

Quick summary

It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century.

Three-line review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed the writing style, and I laughed out loud so many times. But I got so bogged down with all the politics and the backstory I found myself leafing through the final 50 pages. It was also really, really, REALLY heavy on the male side. Like, 90% male character. Gave the book a certain…feel. ☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Quick summary

Life can be hard: your lover cheats on you; you lose a family member; you can’t pay the bills—and it can be great: you’ve had the hottest sex of your life; you get that plum job; you muster the courage to write your novel. Sugar—the once-anonymous online columnist at The Rumpus, now revealed as Cheryl Strayed, author of the bestselling memoir Wild—is the person thousands turn to for advice.

Tiny Beautiful Things brings the best of Dear Sugar in one place and includes never-before-published columns and a new introduction by Steve Almond.  Rich with humor, insight, compassion—and absolute honesty—this book is a balm for everything life throws our way.

Three-line review

I like how Strayed incorporates her own life stories into her advice doled out to readers. She’s blunt and brutally honest. Some of the stories about her mother really hit home. I was bored with all the love essays, though.

☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Quick summary

Keita Ali is on the run. Like every boy on the mountainous island of Zantoroland, running is all Keita’s ever wanted to do. In one of the poorest nations in the world, running means respect. Running means riches—until Keita is targeted for his father’s outspoken political views and discovers he must run for his family’s survival. He signs on with notorious marathon agent Anton Hamm, but when Keita fails to place among the top finishers in his first race, he escapes into Freedom State—a wealthy island nation that has elected a government bent on deporting the refugees living within its borders in the community of AfricTown. Keita can stay safe only if he keeps moving and eludes Hamm and the officials who would deport him to his own country, where he would face almost certain death.

Three-line review

This was a good, quick read. Keita is a wonderfully likeable character, as were the others in his inner circle. It was also a unique glimpse into the world of marathon runners (assuming it’s an accurate depiction, haha). Not exactly a light read, but an easy one. ☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

Cubicle to Cuba: Desk Job to Dream Job by Heidi Siefkas

Quick summary

In this introspective travelogue, author, speaker, and adventurer Heidi Siefkas shares her transition out of the corporate world and Cubicle Land to life on the road in Cuba and beyond.

Heidi highlights another side of Cuba as well as the perspectives gained from years of travel to the once forbidden island. Along the way, Heidi seizes opportunities for adventure in Kauai, Italy, Peru, New Zealand, Australia, and other far-flung places, but always returning to Cuba for more.

Cubicle to Cuba will teach you about Cuba, but also it will inspire you to think out of the cubicle, travel more, and embark on your own Life 2.0 full of adventure.

Three-line review

This book is kinda all over the place, and it felt so self-gratuitous at times. I ended up skimming through the last half, but the tour guide stories were interesting. I should have read this before my Cuba trip! ☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

Quick summary

Meet the Goodnights, a respectable family who run a respectable art gallery-and have for generations. There’s Gwen, the matriarch who likes to escape reality, Eve the oldest daughter who has a slight identity problem (she has two), Nadine, the granddaughter who’s ready to follow in the family footsteps as soon as she can find a set that isn’t leading off a cliff. And lastly, Matilda, the youngest daughter, has inherited the secret locked down in the basement of the Goodnight Gallery, the secret she’s willing to do almost anything to keep, even break into a house in the dead of night to steal back her past.
THE RISKS ARE INTOXICATING. (Note: I drastically reduced this summary because it goes on FOREVER AND EVER.)

Three-line review

I made it about 100 pages into this book and had to call it quits. I just couldn’t do it. I was overwhelmed by all the names and the multiple personalities (??!!) and the complicated plot line. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 0 / ☆☆☆☆

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Quick summary

At first, Jude and her twin brother Noah, are inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude wears red-red lipstick, cliff-dives, and does all the talking for both of them. I’ll Give You the Sun

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet equally devastating ways . . . but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.  The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can only find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.

Three-line review

Oh wow, this book really did something to me. I spent the first half hating Jude and Noah. I’m not one for pity parties, and Noah is a giant wiener. But I love Nelson’s style. It’s chaotic and colourful and messy as hell. The last few chapters had me in tears about 90% of the time. Probably not the smartest book to read the day before your mother’s big surgery, though. Just sayin’.

☆☆☆☆☆ / ☆☆☆☆☆

I’m now just two books behind schedule! Woohoo! Gimme all your summer reads!

  • August 25 2018

    I enjoyed the Illegal too (and literally everything else by Lawrence Hill)! Summer reads: I just finished Educated by Tara Westover (loved) and Hunger by Roxane Gay (loved) and am currently mid-Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (which I’m finding simultaneously hokey and inspirational).

    • September 04 2018

      At least three people have recommended “Educated” to me lately! Haha. I must add the others now!

  • September 04 2018

    I haven’t read any of these yet (except for Tiny Beauty Things, which I recently finished!) so I appreciate the list and your honest, quick reviews! My reading list this summer has been pretty small, distracted by everything else I got going on, but here’s what I’ve gotten to read:

    >Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (I recommend it!)
    >Tiny Beauty Things (enjoyed it!)
    >Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes (unfortunately, I was disappointed by it but had such high hopes…)

    Currently reading:
    >Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
    >Sex & Love & by Bob Hicok (poetry collection)

    • September 04 2018

      Awesome, thanks Kristina! I always get so excited to add new books to my list, haha. I’ll try Burnt Shadows!

  • September 14 2018

    I read I’ll give you the sun about a year ago and I totally loved it!
    I recommend reading: A little life by Hanya Yanagihara, I really loved that book as well! Another book I found enjoyable to read was 4321 by Paul Auster, would recommend that one as well.
    Have fun reading! :)

    • October 12 2018

      Ooh those sound good, thank you!

  • October 02 2018

    I know this was posted awhile ago, but one of my goals this year was to read more and I’ve read 28 books this year and am proud of myself and wanted to share my favorites :)

    House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende – the story of a family in Chile as history rolls by. Kinda weird but very good.

    The Golden Spruce by John Vaillant – the story of a logger that goes insane in rural B.C., also talks a lot about the history of old growth logging and logging in Canada.

    The Wild Trees by Richard Preston – another book about old growth forest (I just moved to Washington state and am kind of obsessed). Focused on the scientists who climb and study old growth redwoods in California.

    Battlecry of Freedom by James McPherson – Ok, this one is going to be a hard sell, because it is an over 800 page book on the U.S. civil war. I asked my dad (who is a civil war historian) to recommend a good book on the civil war, and he pulled this off the shelf in his study and gave it to me. And I put off reading it for two years because I thought it would be a chore to read a long nonfiction book about a complicated topic. Then I read the entire thing in a week. Turns out, the civil war is an exciting enough topic that a well written book about it can’t help but be a page turner (spoiler though, the North wins ;) ). Not sure if being American made the topic more interesting to me as the reverberations of the civil war are still very much felt today in this country, but if you’re at all curious about the topic it’s definitely worth picking up.

    Winter Range by Claire Davis – A story about a ranching community in northern Montana. I just finished this book and am not sure what I think of it. At first I thought it was trying too hard to be deep, but at the end I was frantically turning each page waiting for the resolution so I’m gonna call it a good read.

    Sidenote – I try to read books about countries or places I’m going to visit. And it looks like I might visit Newfoundland next summer. Any suggestions for good books either set in Newfoundland or about the history?

  • July 31 2019

    Great article. It is indeed refreshing to take a step back from the finger scrolling to just eye scrolling I have my personal copy of Francine Prose. It is the first and the only book I have read till date for guidance. I’d explore your other suggestions now.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.