Summer has been an odd season for me this year, but possibly (most likely) due to the fact that I have been in a reading slump (but to be more specific, a post-A Little Life heartache) and have been struggling to fall hard for some fiction. I am a big believer in reading a book at the right time, which requires me to own too many unread books so that when its time to pick a new one, the options aren't limited. But for the past few months I couldn't get it right- which slowed down my interest + pacing and ultimately, made my love for reading feel like a chore.
*Mic check- does this ever happen to anyone else?
I trekked the same books that I just couldn't get through (ex: The Corrections- I promise one day I will make it back to you) across country and on sandy beaches, and although I was only 50 pages deep, it looked as though I had read a few of the titles over and over from their wear. I was scared I was losing my love for stories all together- when would I ever find a book to run home to again?
With all the melancholy drama aside, I pulled a list of the 4 books I plowed through this summer that I actually recommend for different reasons, starting with the book that pulled me out of my dreadful reading slump. This is not 'the ultimate summer book guide' because those lists are bologna (how can you state that if you haven't read EVERYTHING, ever, first?) but a list of books that I liked this summer- and if the stars align, you'll pick one of em up and like it too.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
From goodreads.com: “Are you happy with your life?” Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
This was the book that actually broke my slump streak (woooo!) and came out of nowhere. I read early editions (ARCs) on netgalley.com sometimes, but the caveat is: to get access to better books, you typically have to read + review more books. So, when I finally finished Before The Fall, I turned to a book that was in my archive in an attempt to tackle it like a to-do list. Ironically, I also joined Book of the Month Club this summer, but because I was uninspired by a chunk of the reads, I skipped the August selection, only to realize that Dark Matter was one of the picks!
Anyways, I really loved this book and I can't stop thinking about it. It dives into alternate realities and all the 'what ifs' of life, hovers between sci-fi and family fiction, and moves super fast. Its a fantastic summer (and fall! and all-the-time!) read, I swallowed it whole in less than a full two days. If you loved The Martian + Station Eleven, you would/most likely will love this! It just released within the last month, so I have a feeling it will haunt bookshelves for Fall. Hop on the cool train early, thank me later.
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley
From goodreads.com: On a foggy summer night, eleven people—ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter—depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs—the painter—and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family.
It took me a solid two months to read this for some reason, and while I have seen the hype of it almost everywhere I turn, my opinions of it are somewhere in the middle. It was fun to read once I actually got into it (not that it takes a while, I think it was just me) and I loved the different perspectives of the narrators, but it didn't feel like a fast thriller to me, which is how it is often described. Plane crashes, mystery, death, money + inheritance, affairs, oh my!
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
From goodreads.com: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means. A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.
I will make this easy: if you are a book lover, read this book. I read it in one night, it was so sweet and cute and simple and the perfect break between something heavy. I wish it was longer.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
From goodreads.com: Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? But something goes wrong. Very wrong.
I loooooove a good, trashy, quick thriller and am stoked that our bookstands are oversaturated with offering the 'next big thing.' Ruth Ware is hot on this scene, and while In a Dark, Dark Wood definitely isn't as smart as Gone Girl, it was still pretty entertaining and weird. I read it pretty quickly too; its easy to plow through, your mind can wander off for a few pages without missing much, but it still won't keep you up at night (but in the same turn, you'll probably forget about it shortly after you read it.) Worth your time if you like the cross between Gossip Girl and Law and Order.