There’s nothing better than a long summer day spent reading outdoors. The warm sun on your face. The soft, green grass at your back. The gritty feel of ink-filled pages between your fingertips — what’s not to love? Whether you love the classics, prefer fantasy or perhaps a good memoir, here are seven books to add to your reading list this summer.
Fantasy: Wheel of Time
If you are a lover of high fantasy like Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings, you won’t want to miss Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Though admittedly finishing off the series is quite an undertaking — there are 13 books at around 1,000 pages a pop — it is well worth the commitment. The series comprises some of the richest world-building and storytelling I’ve ever read, all tied together with Jordan’s beautifully descriptive prose. Amazon is currently working on adapting the series into a live-action TV series, with the first season predicted to come out sometime in 2021, so this summer is a great time to polish off Book One.
Feel good: Fangirl
There is something delightfully charming about Rainbow Rowell’s 2013 coming-of-age tale. The novel follows Cather, a shy and socially awkward freshman in college and self-proclaimed “fangirl” who lives for her fandom and writes an enormously popular fan fiction based on a fictionalized version of Harry Potter. Aside from a super-sweet romantic subplot, Fangirl offers an interesting look into fan culture and the nature of creativity and poses the question: Do we need to let go of childhood hobbies in order to “grow up” and move on?
Classic: Pride and Prejudice
It feels like every reading list ever recommends adding Pride and Prejudice to your to-be-read pile, and for good reason. Jane Austen is practically synonymous with wholesome romance, and her clever heroines and witty prose never fail to enthrall the reader. If you have already read Pride and Prejudice and want to try some of Austen's other titles, Sense and Sensibility and Emma are good places to start.
New release: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels
The reviews alone are enough to make me feel excited about India Holton’s The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, a (moderately) historical romance set to be released June 15. The plot revolves around a “prim and proper” Victorian lady — who just so happens to be a thief on the side — as she teams up with the man hired to assassinate her to save the members of the illustrious Wisteria Society. According to one reviewer on Goodreads, “this is the book you'd get if Mark Twain and Jane Austen teamed up — with a wee bit of whiskey in the tea — to write about lady pirates.”
Memoir: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
On the surface, a story about a bedridden woman’s pet snail might not sound entirely appealing, but there is something serenely beautiful about this book that makes it hard to put down. Penned by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, this memoir details a time in the author’s life when she is on complete bed rest following a mysterious illness contracted while traveling in Switzerland. Through Bailey’s keen observations and insights, you’ll learn more than just random trivia about snails (though you will get a lot of that too) — you’ll learn about life, loneliness, isolation and the psychology behind managing a debilitating illness as well. By the end, you may find yourself heading outdoors to find a snail of your own.
Want to go local? If you are looking for a Jane Austen-style read with a bit of fantasy on the side, then you might want to add Wenatchee author Jamie Thomas’s debut novel, Asperfell, to your list. Published in 2020, it is a dark and haunting tale about a young girl who travels through the gate of Asperfell and into a prison built to hold powerful mages to rescue a prince and save her kingdom from civil war.
From your childhood: Anne of Green Gables
This classic children’s novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery is quite possibly even better when read as an adult. It is hard to resist the charm of the novel’s heroine and title character, Anne Shirley. She’s a spirited young orphan with a bottomless imagination and a penchant for the dramatic. If you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables before, I encourage you to pick it up. It could just be the reminder you need to take a deep breath and allow yourself some space to dream.