Summer has officially arrived and for books worms like myself, it means soaking up as much vitamin D as possibly can before the cold, freezing hands of winter descend upon you once again.
Summer has always meant freedom to me. Freedom to explore, freedom to discover, really, the freedom to do whatever I want. This really isn’t a surprise considering the amount of time I’ve spent in school. This freedom has usually translated into a greater amount of time I could utilize for reading. Whether it’s travelling or free time during vacations or just a sunny afternoon out on the patio, I’ve always found some time to delve into books and I’ve got a few recommendations to help you find some good summer reads, too.
First off, if you’re looking for a little exploration, check out these two fiction titles.
When I first heard that the book Crazy Rich Asian was being adapted into a movie, I was ecstatic. This book is an absolutely delicious summer escapist read. Filled with romance, drama, crazy family dynamics, and some incredible settings, this book has everything one could hope for. Rachel Chu is a first generation Chinese-American, NYU economics professor, who joins her boyfriend as he heads home to Singapore to visit his family. Unbeknownst to Rachel, her boyfriend happens to be one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors whose family also happens to be one of its wealthiest. And they aren’t looking for a Chinese-American daughter-in-law. Rachel is a fish out of water and into a flaming cauldron as she steps into a world of the upper elite of Asia’s wealthiest. With a host of crazy, delightful, and absurdly rich characters, Crazy Rich Asian is a great summer read. Definitely, check out the book before the movie hits theatres next year.
If you’re looking to explore a whole other world, I’d suggest checking out N.K. Jemisin’s The Inheritance Trilogy. The world that N.K. Jemisin creates in this series is like nothing I’ve read before. Full of fantasy, magic, gods and goddesses and mortals, death, power, revenge, and love, and amazing and diverse heroines, this trilogy is absolutely spectacular. It’s the one series that I absolutely fell in love with last year. The stories are all interlinked but each novel focuses on a different set characters and settings within the world that Jemisin has created. This is an absolutely amazing series and one that I cannot recommend enough. You can get the collected e-book edition with all three novels for only $9.99 right now. Once your done three books, check out the following two novellas to keep you occupied this summer as it draws you into this whole new fantastical world.
If you’re looking to do some reflecting in your non-fiction reads, I recommend checking these next two.
Rebecca Solnit has a way with her words. It’s quite a soothing and inspiring experience when you read one of her books. Hope in the Dark was really the perfect read for the kind of chaotic political period that was the end of 2016, which has continued into 2017. It actually was one of my favourite books of 2016. The book talks about hope and what it means to hope, and not doing it blindly, but to have hope even in the face of the unknown. The book talks about wins, both the big and the small when it comes to activism, whether it be environmental, political, or cultural. It’s a book that I’ve referred to quite a few times since reading it and one that I occasionally reread chapters of. Resistance takes effort, it takes energy, takes time, and sometimes the changes that we seek aren’t immediately evident but even the smallest steps help to make those changes possible and that’s what this book talks about and offers examples of. The newest revised edition of the book has a new foreword and afterword that really speaks to what’s happening today.
The next book that I’m recommending is actually one of the three books on this list that I haven’t had a chance to read yet, this book being Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay. Roxane Gay is on my shortlist of what I would call all-star authors. Authors whom I will read whatever they publish because of my love of their previous works that I have read. This is Roxane’s first memoir. It’s her story. It’s her history. And from all accounts of what I’ve read about this book it that it’s deeply personal, deeply powerful, and a must read. It’s definitely not going to be a light summer read and one that you’re probably going to need to get in the right headspace for but will be well worth the read. If you’ve read any of Roxane’s previous works before this one should be a no brainer addition to your TBR list.
If you’re looking for a bit of magic and mystery in your life this summer, check out these two comics series.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur was on my comics’ radar for a while before I picked up the first volume earlier this year, and it’s absolutely incredible. The storyline, the art, the colours, and the characters that cover the pages of this series are just excellent. As you can probably tell from the title, the comic is about Moon Girl, aka. Lunella Lafayette who is a nine-year-old super-genius who winds up with a prehistoric tyrannosaurus rex, Devil Dinosaur, as her partner in crime fighting and sort of best friend that has travelled through a wormhole from the past. Lunella carries the Inhuman gene, which once activated through the process of Terrigenesis leaves you an Inhuman with special abilities. Lunella doesn’t want to be Inhuman. She actually spends the majority of the first volume trying to not become an Inhuman. She’s afraid of what being an Inhuman would mean and that loss of the control that comes from turning into an Inhuman. It’s really a perfect summer read, one for adults and kids. If you love the first volume, volumes two and three are also available for your summer reading pleasure.
I’ve talked about Montress before and I’m about to talk about it again because it’s awesome and I think everyone should be reading it. Monstress tells the story of Maika and her companions Kippa and Ren, as they search for clues into her mother’s mysterious death and the secrets to help unlock the bloodthirsty monster that resides within her. This is my absolute favourite comic series. I love the characters, I love the story that Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda are telling with each issue, and I love the artwork and aesthetic of the series. I love pretty much everything about this comic. Just go read it. Volumes one and two are out now.
If you’re looking for some romance to sizzle up your summer, check out these two titles.
Alisha Rai is one of my favourite romance writers, period, and her newest books Hate To Want You drops at the end of this month. Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler make a deal, one night, once a year, all the pleasure they could entice from one another, and no one but them is the wiser about it. These stolen hours wipe away the tragedy marring their past and the feud between their two families. That is until one night when Livvy doesn’t show. The stars align and they bring these two forbidden lovers back into one another’s orbit once more and flames are certain to follow. I cannot tell you how excited I am to read this book once it drops! I already know it’s going to be amazing and hot as hell! Definitely a great choice for your romance summer read. It’s also the first book in Alisha Rai’s new Forbidden Hearts series.
As a woman of colour, especially an Asian woman of colour, seeing myself represented in the romance genre is not something that I’ve come across frequently but Trade Me by Courtney Milan is a novel that certainly did. The main character of Tina Chen just spoke to me in so many ways, as a young woman, as a first generation Asian-American, as someone who’s just trying to figure out how to live their life and balance that with her family. She is everything I could ask for in a heroine that I could connect to and feel represented by. The novel revolves around the trade that Tina makes with billionaire scion, Blake Reynolds. The two of them agree to trade lives, everything from where they live, what they drive, and even where they work in order to literally walk a mile in each others’ shoes. Sparks fly between these two and the story spirals out from there. It’s one of my favourite romance novels that I’ve read this year so far and you should definitely check it out. It’s the first book in Courtney’s Cyclone series.
If YA is your jam, I’ve got two incredible titles that you’re definitely going to want to check out.
A Study in Charlotte is a twist on the classic Sherlockian novel. Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson are the descendants of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, respectively. The two of them meet at an East Coast boarding school and are thrown together into an investigation that shares many similarities with one of their ancestors’ original cases that accuse the both of them of murder. The mystery is a compelling one with quite a few twists and turns and the possibility of Moriarty involvement but that wasn’t what hooked me. It was the relationship that develops between Charlotte and Jamie that really drove the story for me. They don’t get off to the easiest of starts and trust is a huge issue between the two of them but as the story unfolds you see the two of them begin to trust each other, very slowly, and becoming friends and partners. The journey that these two share isn’t an easy one. It’s also complicated by the romantic feelings that develop between the two of them. A Study in Charlotte is the first novel in the Charlotte Holmes trilogy, its sequel The Last of August has already been released and the final book The Case for Jamie is due out in March of 2018.
The Hate U Give is a book that you’ve probably heard a lot about already. If you haven’t, where have you been? I began hearing the buzz surrounding this book well before it even hit the stands, and for good reason. From all the accounts that I’ve read about this book, it’s an honest and poignant look into racism and police violence in the United States. The book follows 16-year-old Starr Carter as she navigates the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil. This event throws Starr’s life into chaos as the two worlds that she occupies, the poorer neighbourhood in which she lives and grew up in and the elite suburban prep school she attends, collide with one another. Starr is the only living person that knows the truth of what happened the night her friend was killed. What she knows has power, the power to change the course of the lives of many those in her community, those she loves, and her own. This won’t be your typical easy summer read but if you’re anything like me, you’re going to read it anyway.
As always, thanks for reading. I hope these recommendations help you pick up something to read this summer! Happy reading! 😉