Whether your ideal vacation involves lying on a beach, biking up a mountain or exploring a new city, you’ll want a good book to keep you company. INSPIRELLE‘s team members share their top picks of summer reads to sweep you away.
Gillian Szraga, Partnerships & Events
In the summer I literally devour books, especially when jet lag has me up at odd hours. This is why I love reading on my ipad, as soon as I finish I can download something new, and I don’t have to waste kilos in my luggage! Here are my suggestions for three totally different books to keep you entertained this summer.
“A Little Life,” by Hanya Yanagihara
This Man Booker Prize Finalist was voted One of the Best Books of The Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and many more. “A Little Life” follows the stories of four college friends focusing mainly on the life of Jude, a more than scarred young man. As much as I could not put this book down, it’s a good idea to take a few mental breaks, because the story is one of pain and struggle beyond what most readers can fathom. Entwined in Jude’s difficult journey is a story of a beautiful friendship, and one of brotherly love. An absolute must for your summer reading.
“A Man Called Ove”, by Fredrik Backman
When you’ve turned the final page in “A Little Life”, “A Man Called Ove” is the perfect pick-me-up to put a smile on your face – I literally LOL’d when reading this! Ove, a grumpy old man with Asperger’s-like tendencies, thinks the world is out to get him – from the neighbors who don’t know how to park their cars to the dog who is purposely peeing on his lawn. Yet, you can’t help but fall in love with him, and lucky for him, this is just what the family across the street does! An uplifting tale of community which will remind you of just how wonderful human interaction can be.
“The Japanese Lover”, by Isabel Allende
Who can resist a good, timeless love story as a light beachside read? Alma is a wealthy Jewish 80-something-year-old who fell in love with her Japanese gardener’s son, Ichimei, when both were mere children. Their love story is discovered by Seth, Alma’s grandson, and Irina, the young caretaker of the retirement home where Alma lives. As the story unfolds, the secrets of Alma’s childhood, her marriage, and the love affair that covered several decades are unveiled.
Elizabeth Brahy, Arts & Culture Editor
Maybe it’s my contrarian nature, but when the sun is shining, I like to go dark. There’s nothing better than lying on the beach reading a really juicy thriller or relaxing after a day of family fun with a novel that plumbs the depth of the human condition. If you’re a similar fan of twisty stories that will keep you on the edge of your beach towel, here my top picks.
“The Late Show” by Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly is one of the world’s most renowned crime writers. Best known for his excellent novels featuring Detective Harry Bosch (which is now an excellent series on Amazon Prime), Connelly’s latest introduces a new hero, Los Angeles Police Department officer Renée Ballard. Shunted to the night shift after filing a sexual harassment suit against her boss, Renée responds to calls, but is rarely allowed to do any real investigating. Things change when she gets caught up in two cases: the brutal beating of a transgender prostitute, and a shooting at a nightclub. Determined to see things through for once, Renée actions will bring back several figures from her past and make her a target of both the LAPD and a dangerous killer. Connelly is a master of mixing suspenseful police procedural elements with fined-tuned characterizations, and NO ONE writes better about the massive, diverse sprawl that is Los Angeles. A great start to a new series featuring a strong lead female character.
“The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead
A page-turner of a different kind, Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel kicks off from a bold yet simple premise: what if the ”underground railroad” that helped slaves escape north to freedom had been an actual railroad? From there, Whitehead recounts the picaresque journey of Cora, a young woman who runs off from a Georgia plantation, as well as the stories of the people who help her and those who hunt her. By mixing speculative and factual elements, Whitehead is able to get to a larger truth about America’s troubling history of oppression. And while he doesn’t shy away from the brutal realities of slavery and other atrocities, his prodigious imagination, vivid characters and luminous prose make the book difficult to put down. Cora’s story will stay with you long after your summer sunburn has faded.
“The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss
A more heart-warming read (although not without its moments of tragedy) is Krauss’ 2005 novel, “The History of Love.” The book alternates between two stories – that of octogenarian Leo Gursky, a Polish war refugee, who came to America in search of a lost love and that of 14-year-old Alma Singer, who is searching for a way to deal with her widowed mother’s loneliness. Linking them together is a mysterious book that has deep connections to both their lives. A meditation on love, loss and the power of literature, Krauss’ book will both break your heart and fill it with joy. Read it this summer in advance of Krauss’ visit to Paris, where she will open the American Library in Paris’ Evenings with an Author series at the rentrée. Happy reading and happy summer, everyone!