Each week, Bookstr scans bestseller lists across the Internet to learn what people are reading, buying, gifting, and talking about most — just to make sure you’re out there living your absolute best life! This week, we’re taking a break from the usual routine to bring you some summer reading for the 4th of July! Here are some reading recommendations as you relax on a beach, prepare to lounge by the pool, or take in the fireworks!
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5. Shapes of Native nonfiction edited by Elissa Washuta and Theresa Warburton
Shapes of Native Nonfiction by Elissa Warburton is a collection of essays that helps us remember America’s first people, the Indigenous Americans, even as we celebrate our own independence from British rule. This collection features a full range of dynamic Indigenous talent designed around the theme of lyric essays. Featuring imaginative and well regarded talent putting on a full range of work, this collection is one to read about America’s heritage and certainly a relaxing read beneath the warm skies.
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4. Because Internet by Getchen McCulloch
Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch is a good book to get yourself back into the internet swing of things in a relaxing fashion. This book defines the language and slang of the internet for not so savvy internet users, as the internet is making language change faster than perhaps our brains can keep up with. The author helps unpack the evolution of digital language, providing a survey of everything from the appeal of memes to the true meaning of ‘LOL.’
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3. Revenge of the Punks by Vivien Goldman
Revenge of the Punks by Vivien Goldman is a rock and rolling book about reliving the turbulent days of youth. Goldman was Bob Marley’s first UK publicist but also wrote searing music reviews in the 70s and 80s. She now turns her pen to telling the stories of female music writers and women’s relationship to the music that defined generations. She tells stories of the genre’s rebel women such as Bikini Kill, Nehen Cherry, and activist punks. Goldman’s book explores their lives, capturing the spirit of rebellion to get you pumped for July 4th.
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2. Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino
Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino is a collection of essays revolving around our own self-destruction, fueled by the rise of social media and our increased isolation. You might not think that’s an optimistic, breezy read, but the author tackles the essays with humor and grace, tackling challenging topics with easy to understand context. This may be a little more challenging, but if you’re looking for a way to truly stop your self-reflective sense of self-delusion and self-destruction, this is the read for you.
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1. A Death in the rainforest by Don Kulick
A Death In the Rainforestby Don Kulick discusses what it means to truly study another culture that is not your own. It tells of Don Kulick, who went to the tiny village of Gapun in New Guinea to document the death of the native language, Tayap. Over thirty years, he documented the slow death of Tayap and the look of vanishing death. The story tells not only of Don’s illuminating look into the native language, but also the white society’s reach into the farthest corner of the Earth, and Kulick’s realization that he had to stop his study of the culture altogether.
Summer is here (thank god!) Goodbye freezing winds, slogging through mounds of snow, cold nights, and early sunsets. Say hello instead to warm beaches, cookouts, strolls through the beautiful foliage, and leaping into the pool! Its summer time, book lovers, and we’re sure you all have a lot of reading to catch up on. What better place to read than on a sunny beach listening to the crash of the ocean waves or lying in the soft grass under the shade of a swaying tree in a park? Here are ten quotes from literature to get you hyped for the splash of summer!
Image via the New York Times
1. “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer” – The Great Gatsby.
2. “The summer stretched out the daylight as if on a rack. Each moment was drawn out until its anatomy collapsed. Time broke down. The day progressed in an endless sequence of dead moments” – Perdido Street Station.
3. “The castle grounds were gleaming in the sunlight as though freshly painted; the cloudless sky smiled at itself in the smoothly sparkling lake, the satin-green lawns rippled occasionally in a gentle breeze: June had arrived” – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
4. “August has passed, and yet summer continues by force to grow days. They sprout secretly between the chapters of the year, covertly included between its pages” – Tree of Codes.
5.“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing” – Oliver Twist.
Image via NPR
6. The summer night was settling upon the neighborhood like a dark lace veil, casting dappled shadows on the roofs and sidewalks and lawns” – Luisa Across the Bay.
7. “Summer was on the way; Jem and I awaited it with impatience. Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the tree house; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill” – To Kill A Mockingbird.
8. “It was rapture enough just to sit there beside him in silence, alone in the summer night in the white splendor of moonshine, with the wind blowing down on them out of the pine woods” – The Blue Castle.
9. “At these times, the things that troubled her seemed far away and unimportant: all that mattered was the hum of the bees and the chirp of birdsong, the way the sun gleamed on the edge of a blue wildflower, the distant bleat and clink of grazing goats” – The Naming.
10. “The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumor of sadness and change” – Charlotte’s Web.
What are some of your favorite summer books? What’s on your reading list for this summer? Tell us in the comments!
It’s getting hotter… and so is our burning desire to run off to some beach and leave our real lives behind! Okay—realistically, most of us have some financial and scheduling limitations when it comes to our plans. But that’s no excuse for missing out on a great book. (Spoiler alert: there actually is no good excuse.) So whether your escape is already on the calendar or purely hypothetical, it’s time to pick a vacation destination. More importantly, it’s time to pick the perfect book for your travels.
Gif Via Real Simple
No matter how fantastic, we love when some elements of the books we read are grounded in reality (though, of course, they still need to be fantastically good). It’s why people actually go to Harry Potter World, even though there’s nothing there for them but B.O. and overpriced Cornish Pasties—trust me on that last one. I still recall going to Blackfriars Bridge after finishing Cassandra Clare‘s The Infernal Devicestrilogy and feeling myself overwhelmed with a specific, nerdy glee. It’s all real! I thought to myself. Well, except for the whole Shadowhunters and evil clockwork creatures part. But that last one probably wouldn’t make for a very good vacation.
So, without further ado, here are some incredible reads set in popular travel destinations around the world! Whether you’re going away or you wish you were, these books are sure to take you on the perfect journey.
Bill Bryson‘s hilarious Americana travelogue opens: “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” After the death of his road-trip-loving father and decades spent living abroad in England, Bryson returns to his former home in search of the perfect American small town that may have just been childhood idealism all along. Readers will be transfixed by the hypnotic pull of the highway AND the frequently baffling people Bryson comes across as he hits every single continental state. Deliriously witty and frequently profound, Bryson leaps from calling out people in Mark Twain’s hometown for never actually reading Mark Twain to dropping truths like this one:
I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored. But then it occurred to me that musing is a pointless waste of anyone’s time, and instead I went off to see if I could find a Baby Ruth candy bar, a far more profitable exercise.
We know, we know! Why didn’t we recommend The Great Gatsby, right? Well, because it’s likely you’ve already read it or seen the movie. F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s less frequently read The Beautiful and the Damnedcaptures a marriage falling prey to alcohol and greed, a darkly atmospheric depiction of a city that never sleeps… but might sleep around. Since nightlife and ruinous ambition appear to be the core motifs of NYC, this is the perfect book to throw in your suitcase. Besides, ‘the beautiful and the damned’ is an excellent caption for you stumbling out of some club with someone who is doomed not to live up to your expectations. Listen, the 1920s are almost upon us, so if you were looking for the right time to drink too much and be confused about your love life… your time is coming.
Let’s get one thing straight—this book isn’t. If you want to go be gay and edgy in Europe (which I generally do), read this book before settling down for a relaxing disco nap to wake up at midnight to head to the club. One of the earliest books to feature lesbian characters, this intense gothic novel is hopefully just as melodramatic as your going out eye-shadow. The groundbreaking novel features characters outside the gender binary well before the time when this was commonplace—since it’s still not commonplace, emphasis on the well before. If you’re interested in the dark and seedy (as I generally also am) read this one before your Parisian fling, your intoxicated misadventures in a repurposed Berlin warehouse, your late-night wandering through Vienna’s former red-light district. Looking for grungy debauchery in interwar Europe? Right here.
Listen, you COULD watch the HBO adaptation… but that’s not gonna fit in your suitcase, and you’ve got a long plane ride ahead of you. This modern masterpiece is a rich story of two friends, Elena and Lila, growing up in a poor yet colorful neighborhood. The bildungsroman depicts the ways in which their fates diverge and how their lives parallel the turmoil of their country. A deeply immersive series, The Neapolitan Quartet addresses the transformation of both the girls and the country they live in with nuance and style. This heady dose cultural context will only improve your Italy trip, and it’s guaranteed to offset the displeasure of airplane food.
It would be kind of an understatement to call this novel sensual… so we’ll go out on a limb and call it full-on sexual. Full-on actually IS a more accurate description, given that there’s sex on horseback and, uh, a meal prepared with a ‘special’ ingredient. But this isn’t some pornographic romp across Mexico (even if that may be what your Spring Break is destined to become). Believe it or not, this international bestseller (and inspiration for a feature film) is an expansive tale of family life and forbidden love that chronicles the unlikely history of an all-female family in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Each chapter opens with a unique recipe to give the story a sense of place within one family’s legacy… a legacy defined frequently by bad luck and surprising turns of fate.
A book about a twenty-something living under questionable conditions, doing odd jobs, and not so much going broke as charging headlong into it? Relatable. If you’re on the younger side, chances are that even if you are traveling, you aren’t on your way to five-star accommodations. You might’ve worked some double shifts and second jobs to get on that plane, or maybe you’re hustling under the table to afford an extension on that trip. George Orwell feels you: he describes an eighteen-hour workday at a Parisian restaurant and sleeping on a bench to avoid paying rent (something that we do hope will not feature in your vacation). But it’s always a relief to recall that many among the literary greats got their start down in the gutter—especially if that’s where you are right now.
Eddy L. Harris, a black American travel writer, goes on a stunning search for his identity as he backpacks across the continent his ancestors called home. Or, not exactly his identity. He explains:
Because my skin is black you will say I traveled Africa to find the roots of my race. I did not—unless that race is the human race, for except in the color of my skin, I am not African. If I didn’t know it then, I know it now. I am a product of the culture that raised me. And yet Africa was suddenly like a magnet drawing me close, important in ways that I cannot explain, rising in my subconscious and inviting me.
This is not another voyeuristic analysis of a white author whose intent is to lambast the reader with relentless depictions of poverty. There are depictions of poverty, but as stricken as Harris is by the corruption and violence he encounters, he remains always enthralled by the beauty of the continent.
After his sister’s suicide, Andrew X. Pham bikes across Vietnam in search of the family he’s lost and the homeland he left behind. The memoir juxtaposes his travels with the war-torn memories of his childhood, his illegal journey in an open boat and the insincere conversion to Christianity in his new American home. This is more than a journey, although it’s certainly that as well—it’s an attempt to process a difficult past. The conflict between his new land and his native land, embodied in memories of the war, strikingly mirrors the conflict of his dual identity. Catfish and Mandalaoffers a unique look into Vietnam’s language, culture, geography, and history that’s both enormously meaningful and small enough to cram in that suitcase!
What’s the best thing to do at the beach? Swim? Tan? Wrong—it’s obviously to get into unsupervised teen shenanigans. Wealthy brothers Benji and Reggie Cooper are out of prep school for the summer and at their parents’ beach house… which is pretty much the only role their parents will play in their summer of love, hate, and bad new Coca Cola flavors. At school, Benji made the mistake of revealing his passion for horror movies and Dungeons & Dragons. But, if he can master all the right handshakes, he could spend summer as the coolest kid in the Hamptons. Colson Whitehead‘s Sag Harboris a bildungsroman for the African-American elite, for the “black boys with beach houses.” Plus, it’s loaded with 80s nostalgia.
Being an accomplished novelist traveling the world sounds like anyone’s dream—but Arthur Less didn’t dream it would happen like this. On the eve of his ex-boyfriend’s wedding, Less has a mid-life (okay, probably three-quarter-life) crisis. The response to his writing has been tepid. He is, he believes, “the first homosexual ever to grow old… that is, at least, how he feels at times like these.” And he is. Growing old, that is. Approaching his fiftieth birthday and the precipice of literary obscurity, Less accepts an invitation to an insignificant literary award ceremony that will take him around the world and deeper into the lyrical reflection of his own self-improvement. Let it be known that I read this novel on an airplane to another continent, and I can promise a rewarding experience. Warm-hearted and deeply human, this story is bursting with life and an obvious love of language. To quote the author, “just for the record: happiness is not bullshit.”
All In-Text Images Via Amazon.
Featured Image Via RealSimple.
These eerie page-turners from debut and bestselling authors are sure-fire summer hits.
1. LAYOVER by David Bell
Publication Date: July 2nd
“In the hands of a master of suspense like Bell, a chance flirtation at an airport leads to a fast-paced novel filled with turbulence. Make sure your belt is fastened and enjoy! Bell is at his best.”—Kaira Rouda, USA Today bestselling author of Best Day Ever
In this high concept psychological suspense novel from USA Today bestselling author David Bell, a chance meeting—and passionate kiss—with a beautiful woman in an airport sends a man on a pulse-pounding quest for the truth.
2. GIRLS LIKE US by Cristina Alger
Publication Date: July 2nd
“Girls Like Us is something special: A beautiful, deeply textured novel and a poignant, surprising mystery. I loved it, every chapter and every word. I’m going to be thinking about it as a reader, a father, and a storyteller for a long, long time.”—Chris Bohjalian, author of The Flight Attendant
Girls Like Us is Cristina Alger’s best book yet. Worlds collide when an FBI agent investigates a string of grisly murders on Long Island that raises the impossible question: What happens when the primary suspect is your father?
3. LOCK EVERY DOOR by Riley Sager
Publication Date: July 2nd
“Lock Every Door is a gem: Fast-paced, crisp writing, stellar character development. Riley Sager’s best book yet!”
—Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of In Her Bones
A young woman has a new job apartment sitting in one of New York’s oldest and most glamorous buildings…but it may cost more than it pays. Super eerie, this heart-pounding thriller from Riley Sager is sure to be another bestseller.
4. The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
Publication Date: July 30th
“High wire tension from the first moment to the last. Four ruthless people locked in a deadly game where victory means survival. Gripping and unforgettable!” ―Harlan Coben
Four young Wall Street rising stars discover the price of ambition when an escape room challenge turns into a lethal game of revenge in this gripping debut from Megan Goldin. In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success lavishly―but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
5. Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
Publication Date: July 2nd
“Exciting and sprinkled with razor-sharp insights about what it is to be a woman today, Whisper Network is a witty and timely story that will make you cheer for sisterhood.”
―Liv Constantine, USA Today bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrish
“If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened.”
Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand against an inappropriate boss sets in motion a catastrophic shift in the office. Lies are uncovered, and secrets exposed. And not everyone will survive. All of their lives―as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries―will change dramatically as a result.
6. The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley
Publication Date: June 11th
“Marissa Stapley’s writing is a gift.”—Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Orphan’s Tale
As a deadly tropical storm descends on the Mayan Riviera coast, trapping the hosts and the guests on the resort, secrets are revealed, loyalties are tested and not one single person—or their marriage—will remain unchanged by what follows.
7. A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
\Publication Date: July 23rd
“Fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn meet your next obsession.” ―BuzzFeed
Michele Campbell’s edge-of-your seat story of passion and intrigue will keep you guessing until the very end. Caroline Stark’s beach house was supposed to showcase what she thought was her perfect family. But after a very public fight with her husband, she realizes things may not be as perfect as they seem: her husband is lying to her, the money is disappearing, and there’s a stranger on the beach outside her house.
8. THOSE PEOPLE by Louise Candlish
Publication Date: June 11th
“[A] disturbing novel of domestic suspense. With a structure reminiscent of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies…A nicely paced, wryly intelligent novel with sharp insights into human behavior.”—Kirkus Reviews
In Louise Candlish’s startling domestic suspense novel set in a suburban neighborhood poses the question: “Could your neighbor make you angry enough to kill?” Lowland Way is the epitome of the suburban dream. Every house and yard is carefully maintained for maximum curb appeal, and everyone knows one another and gets along. When Darren and Jodie move in, the neighborhood changes for the worse. An all-out war is brewing on Lowland Way, and when someone is killed, accusations start flying.