I can’t believe another quarter has gone by and we’re halfway through 2020. And the last book recommendation list I sent you was juuuuust at the beginning of quarantine.
Holy cannoli, a lot has happened in three months.
There are 25 books on the list below, and I think I could list off 25 big things that have been going on or have started, ended, or transpired in my life. I’ll spare you for another week, but suffice it to say this email is coming your way from a different state – in several senses of the phrase.
Anywho, I love reflecting on the themes of my quarterly reading lists. This quarter was ripe with BIPOC authors and stories. It also included quite a few LBGTQ+ stories, which was super fun and refreshing, and just in time for Pride. And most of what I read was stuff that had already been on my list for months, so it was cool to see the expression of diversity in my reading habits – before everyone went into panic mode about it. Finally, I ended up taking on quite a serious tone for the quarter overall, which isn’t my usual MO. I dunno, it just felt like I needed something with teeth for a while, y’know?
On that note, I hope you’ll find something that speaks to you for your summer reading list.
The Worst Best Man: A Novel Mia Sosa (OK, this one was SO fun. And sweet. And any romance author who can successfully incorporate swinging dick jokes is A++ in my book.)
Conversations with Friends: A Novel Sally Rooney (Y’know, I didn’t love it. I found the storyline, the commentary, to be really interesting, but this style of writing is just not my fav.)
The Overstory: A Novel Richard Powers (Oh God, this book was incredible. And gorgeous. And flowing. It was a beautiful weaving of humanity and environmentalism. Highly recommended if you consider yourself to be an “outdoors” person.)
Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God Lauren F. Winner (Thought this one was going to be lighter than it was, but enjoyed it immensely as it was when I got into the first few pages. I’m new to books examining theology, and this was a great place to start.)
The Honey-Don’t List Christina Lauren (Loved this one. Fun and wild commentary on reality TV celebrity, and easy to imagine this story coming to life.)
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America James Forman, Jr. (Excellent topical look at all the varied actors and mechanisms that set up the current discriminatory criminal justice system – from the fight to decriminalize marijuana in the 70s, to the gun debate a decade later, to the war on drugs, to pretext stops in the 90s. Super interesting, very useful to current conversations about law enforcement and justice. Highly recommended.)
The Paragon Hotel Lyndsay Faye (This might have been my unexpected favorite of the quarter! This one was just the opposite of Wearing God – I thought it would be heavier, but it was surprisingly light and full, and I ate up every character and storyline, as well as the historical reflection through fiction. HUGE SURPRISE ENDING. 10/10.)
The Bride Test Helen Hoang (So lovely! Excellent exploration of themes like autism and immigration.)
Blitzed (Playbook, The Book 3) Alexa Martin (Y’all, Alexa Martin is my jam. Can’t wait for Book 4! Start this series NOW! Side note: I started reading this one riiiiight as the move to Denver started to look promising, and I took that as a sign :))
Very Nice: A novel Marcy Dermansky (This is a style somewhat similar to Sally Rooney, so if you’re into that sort of thing, you’ll probably like this one. It was so out there for me, and the ending was a bit of a shocker.)
How to Be an Antiracist Ibram X. Kendi (I actually finished this up a couple months ago, after being on the waitlist for it since, like, February. So, so glad it worked out that way, because this was fantastic. As anyone else creating a reading list might do, I also highly recommend reading this book.)
Well Met Jen DeLuca (Soooooo fantastic!!! Just the sweetest. Heartwarming and lovely in its reflection of identity and confidence and expectations in love and life. Really excited for the next in the series!)
The City We Became: A Novel (The Great Cities Trilogy Book 1) N. K. Jemisin (On par with every single N.K. Jemisin book ever. Really excited to see where the rest of the series goes! She is just so damn talented.)
The Body Double: A Novel Emily Beyda (Oh wow, this one was weird. Literally the entire time, I had zero idea where it was going. If you like being kept guessing, check this one out.)
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel Grady Hendrix (This was no cutesy Sookie Stackhouse situation. This was, like, scary, violent vampire shit. But, totally awesome nonetheless.)
Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3) Robert Galbraith (Love these mysteries and the characters. Don’t love transphobic JK Rowling so much these days.)
Magic for Liars: A Novel Sarah Gailey (Excellent supernatural mystery! Loved it.)
Emergency Contact Mary H. K. Choi (Very sweet. Low-key and lovely.)
The Secrets We Kept: A novel Lara Prescott (Really enjoyed this one. I don’t read historical fiction often, but this one made me want more.)
Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, and the Things I’m Not Allowed to Say on TV Joe Buck (LOVED this book. I’ve been in St. Louis for a long time, so I know Joe Buck as a local. But I didn’t grow up here, so I don’t have the whole connection with his dad, drama with him coming up that way, etc. There are lots of rumors about Joe, he’s a constant source of critique in the sports broadcasting world, and this book hit all that stuff head on. He didn’t pull any punches and got super vulnerable the whole way through, especially about his hair plugs. Ha. Also, he’s hilarious. If you like Joe Buck, or you’re from STL, can’t recommend this one enough.)
Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club 2) Lyssa Kay Adams (So good! And a timely account of #metoo in the restaurant industry.)
Beautiful Beginning (The Beautiful Series Book 6) Christina Lauren (Great, as always. This series is the best.)
Fumbled (Playbook, The Book 2) Alexa Martin (See above. This series is also the best. I think this installment is actually my favorite of the three so far. Really loved this couple and their story.)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows J.K. Rowling (Devoured it. HP doesn’t disappoint.)
Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1) Evie Dunmore (This is right up there in the top three for the quarter! Another really fun historical romance with excellent political context, but like, wow at the characters. So fierce. SUCH a good match. Great ending. Highly recommend, and super excited for the next book in the fall!)
Currently diving back into my sci-fi roots, and pumped about it. I hope that you’ll give yourself permission to dive into something that feels fun or light or sexy or deep or dark, or exactly what you need to feel for now. I don’t think I need to remind you, but you’re allowed, and you get to choose. Even the small things, like your books.
P.S. Would highly recommend buying these books from your local bookseller, not Amazon. Or better yet, borrow them from your local library, which is generally what I do. Don’t worry – you can borrow Kindle books and audiobooks too!
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