Ever since I was little summer always meant reading to me. I was a voracious reader all year round and even read in the shower…which I didn’t realize was weird until much later in life.
Summertime was a special time of year for this little bibliophile though. It’s when my local library would do their summer reading program and nothing meant more to me than getting those precious stickers at the end of each pamphlet I filled out showing I had accomplished something. I don’t even remember what the prizes were any more, but I wanted them like nothing else.
I read every chance I get and traded in listening to tunes most of the time for Audible books during my commute. I stopped surfing on my phone at night and started reading my kindle before catching some ZZZ’s. I’m pretty much always game for reading a good book along with the rest of the bibliophile community, but once summer hits it seems like so many others join the ranks who normally wouldn’t spend their extra time paging through a novel.
Personally, it’s thrilling when I see posts all over social media about what the hottest beach reads are or people looking for a book rec for their road trip.
You guys are all like my besties and there’s nothing I enjoy more than doling out some great book recommendations. Without further adieu check out some of my favorite books right now that I just know you’ll love.
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through the links, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. However, all my opinions are my own.
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BREAKING NEWS: Reece Witherspoon Has a Book Club! How did I not know this sooner!?
When I saw my homegirl had a book club I knew I had to check it out and I was so pleased. I love all things mystery: Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars, Sherlock Holmes. You name is and I’m all over it with my magnifying glass in tow. I was ecstatic when I saw that her first pick was a mystery!
Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman would be my first choice if you’re looking for a beach read this summer. It’s mysterious and thrilling without being a difficult read. Other than my guilty pleasure of Janet Evanovich books, I’m not really into fluffy reads. You know the type. They basically take no concentration whatsoever. They’re like the soap operas of the book world.
The book starts out with a flashforward which I’m never a huge fan of, but I’ll cut the author some slack on that. We open to the main character, Erin, digging a grave for her newly minted hubs before flashing back a few weeks to right before they’re getting hitched. Yikes!
The wedding goes off without a hitch and soon they’re swept away to their Bora Bora honeymoon and chaos ensues!
It’s a far-fetched book, but the best beach reads are! Major props to the writer for really making the scene come alive as we live through Erin’s eyes. I won’t give any more away because it definitely is a worthwhile read and I can’t wait to see what Reece suggests next month!
Overall, Something in the Water is a solid beach read. I’ll give it a 3/5 because, while it is thrilling, I also felt like I’ve read this book before. Meaning it didn’t really do anything different from its predecessors to make it stand out.
Aja Gabel’s freshman novel The Ensemble is nothing short of amazing. I have zero background in classical music, but following this quartet throughout a good chunk of their lives gave me a view into a life I will never witness.
I did theatre for almost 20 years so I can understand the closeness that comes with spending time with the same people day in and day out, but a quartet is a whole different animal. Cast members in Broadway or traveling shows last maybe 3 years tops, I think? We follow this quartet for 18 years. 18 freakin’ years of the same four people. Can you imagine spending 18 years with your current co-workers day in and day out?
Throughout the book, we see them at the beginning during their first big competition all the way until the end. Along the way, all four of them become them come together to create a single sympatico organism that plays beautiful music. The hard part is sustaining that feeling of oneness.
A quartet only works when everyone is in sync, emotionally, physically and musically. Do you know how hard it is to get four people with four different wants, needs and desires all on the same page? One would think impossible, but quartets exist so we know otherwise.
This book may involve music, but you don’t have to know music or even like music to enjoy this book. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind look into how it looks when your career is your life and your co-workers are your family.
This gets a giant 4.5/5. It’s a unique take on a unique situation that just seems to flow out of Gabel. My only issue is the descriptions were sometimes a little redundant and I’d find myself thinking “we get it already”. Definitely worth a read AND Girl’s Night In is doing it for their book club this month!
You know this psych major has to throw in some kind of self-help book and Girl, Wash Your Face by the blogger Rachel Hollis is just too funny and relatable not to have on this list!
Just a PSA that Rachel is a well-known Christian and it is brought up in the book if you like to steer clear of that type of thing. I don’t believe in organized religion, but I am spiritual and the nods towards Christianity didn’t bother me at all. She doesn’t shove her beliefs down your throat and is the kind of Christian I wish I had grown up around.
I love reading books by people who are passionate about their jobs, worked their way up to get where they are and have a sense of humor. Does Girl, Wash Your Face have all that? Check, check and checkity check!
All of the stories in her book are about her less than graceful moments which tend to be the ones we learn the most from. I don’t know about you, but I love when a woman breaks down her perfect mask of perfection she shows the world to allow us a sneak peek to see the struggle within.
I think we all know that people who have “made it” have issues that they don’t air, but it’s easy to forget when you only see them in their best moments. Rachel is refreshing because she not only lets us into her messy private life, but she’s also learned how to laugh at herself as well and that’s the most important thing you can take away from this book. Everyone is struggling and you can fight it or laugh about it. Either way, you’re still going to struggle.
4/5 for this one. I looooove this special niche of hilarious self-help books and this one had me laughing and nodding my head going “me too”! If audio books are more your speed you’ll be happy to know that Rachel does all the narration herself and I’m so glad too because I feel like so much would have been lost if it had been someone else reading her words.
Hot Mess by Emily Belden is another great beachy read. Just like The Ensemble, it takes you into a world that many never catch a glimpse of…restaurant management. While it has it’s heavy moments as our main character, Allie Simon, deals with her drug addict boyfriend the majority of the book is light and full of girl power.
Follow Allie as she is plopped down into circumstances that are way out of her league, but uses grit, determination, and plain hard work to find her way out of the weeds. If you need a pick me up or are going through a break up grab this novel and lose yourself for a few hours. Forewarning, it may have you drooling over all the amazing foods that are mentioned. I felt like that dog from Rocko’s Modern Life (I know I’m dating myself here).
An added bonus: My city, Chicago, is the backdrop of this rockin’ book and the author is a Chicagoan as well.
4/5 for a super entertaining read, tackling a dark subject and still maintaining lightness, and a glimpse into how restaurants work. You’ll definitely analyze your next restaurant dining experience more than usual.
It wouldn’t be a Buddha Belly must-read list without an English mystery book! The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware is a page-turner if you love Agatha Christie type books. I was a fan of Ware’s after reading The Woman in Cabin 10 and read this as soon as I could get my hands on it.
The book definitely has some twists and turns and while I had guessed some of the answers to the mysteries there were definitely some surprises in there. In the beginning, you meet Hal, a young woman just trying to make ends meet after her mother’s sudden demise. She thinks her prayers are answered when a letter comes addressed to her saying she is to inherit some of her grandmother’s estate after she’s passed. The only problem is it’s not her grandmother….whoops!
Hal owes some money to the wrong people and in desperation decides to try and see if she can pass herself off as the long-lost grandchild of Mrs. Westaway. Similar to Ten Little Indians, Mrs. Westaway’s death has brought a group of people together who haven’t seen each other in years and chaos ensues.
3.5/5 for this baby. While I loved the premise and homage to Agatha Christie there were times where I felt like the book hadn’t been edited by enough pairs of eyes. The character of Hal seemed to constantly bounce back and forth from seeing herself as strong and then as meek. She pretends to be meek to pass herself off as the granddaughter, but the author tries to make it seem like she is strong underneath. Hal’s behavior throughout the novel just showed more meekness.
Please, please, please, let me know any amazing books I need to read. I’m open to all genres so don’t hold back!
I hope you have fun checking out these books and remember to share with any other bibliophiles who need some new books to add to their list.
Have a beachy and book-filled summer!