Lee Shares Her Favorite Summer Reads
When summer hits, I reach for books that are page turners. I’ve read every single one of these before, and I come back to them again and again. Before my son was born, I used to lay in bed all day and read a book cover-to-cover, and now it’s quite difficult to get the time to do that so it’s nice to read books that feel quick. Here are quick and feel quick books for these hot, lazy, and not so lazy days. Enjoy!
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Maria Semple
This book simply makes me smile. The protagonist, Bernadette, is such a lovely, funny, and charming character that I couldn’t help relate to her and also fall in love with her. The story unfolds in an interesting way, and I’ve never read a book told in the style. This is a quintessential summer book; I think it’s been on every Books To Read This Summer list since its debut. If you haven’t read it yet, it would be my first suggestion to you hence the No. 1 spot.
The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty
I’m sure I am simply biased here as the book takes place both in the Midwest, where I’m originally from (not too far away from my hometown really), and New York City, where I used to live. The main character, Cora, accompanies a young Louise Brooks to New York City in the sweltering summer. The book isn’t really about Louise Brooks, but she opens up Cora’s eyes a bit, and the summer changes them both. It’s an interesting read, spanning many decades, and the imagined Louise Brooks sass is really up my alley. Also, the audiobook is wonderful, if that’s your thing. Another favorite Cora, Elizabeth McGovern, narrates this book and it’s really comforting to hear her. Or maybe I’m just missing Downton Abbey wayyyy too much these days.
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
Gone Girl is the incredibly well-known Gillian Flynn novel, which I love, but this one happens to be my favorite. It takes place in Missouri, again -- where I’m from, and the protagonist Camille is a fascinating character. Gillian’s characters are always really fascinating, but I find the characters in this exceptional. It’s dark, like most Flynn, and it takes place in the sticky hot summer so it’s quite fitting to read it now. You should catch up now as HBO is currently making a miniseries starring Amy Adams as Camille, and it’s bound to be a hit with material like this, an actress like Amy, and Jean-Marc Vallée, who helmed female-centric and WONDERFUL Wild and Big Little Lies with Reese Witherspoon.
The Lake House, Kate Morton
I get lost, happily, in Kate Morton novels. I was, and still am, obsessed with The Distant Hours, and until I read The Lake House I didn’t think I could like another novel of hers more. Morton creates beautiful settings, and the lake house is no exception. I’ve never wanted to live in a house more. Set in Cornwall, the story moves between different characters, all of whom I loved, and moves at a fast pace. Or, at least, that’s how I read it because I want my suspicions confirmed or denied… I will say, I guessed the ending but despite that I enjoyed the read, and I think you will too.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Is there a more quintessential summer book than To Kill A Mockingbird? No. The answer is no. This book, and film, has been a favorite for as long as I can remember. Scout, Jem, and especially Atticus have my heart always and forever. Treat yourself to one of the greatest literary characters of all time.
The Talented Mr. Ripley, Patricia Highsmith
Intrigue and Italy. What more do you want? But really, this book is stunning, and I’m surprised to say that when I like my main characters female. I’m chalking it up to Highsmith, who has created such a fascinating character in Tom Ripley.
Atonement, Ian McEwan
You’d think I’d want something less heartbreaking for a summer read, but nope. Atonement is just the ticket for a sweeping summer novel. I don’t know why I do it to myself every single time. Note: Read with tissues nearby.
Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie
I love all of Agatha Christie’s novels, and Christie herself was quite the person. Death on the Nile is one of her most famous novels, and I think it’s a good introduction (Murder on the Orient Express is great too, but I like Nile more) to Hercule Poirot, the beloved Belgian detective. Christie was quite prolific so if you enjoy this, then I recommend her other work as well. I’m so sorry with all of these crime and murder novels….
Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
I don’t know what to say here except I want you to read this. As a personal favor to me. This book is a fascinating look into a marriage. It’s similar in structure to Gone Girl as there’s the husband’s story and the wife’s. Like Gone Girl, it has complex characters, and the female characters are incredible. President Obama also read and loved this book. So I hope that’s all the recommendation that you need.
Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
Back to Cornwall with yet another mystery set in an imposing house, Manderley. Clearly, I have a type. The nameless second Mrs. de Winter struggles with setting herself apart from the beloved first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, who died tragically the year before in a boating accident. The second Mrs. de Winter wants to prove herself to her husband and to his friends and family, which is seemingly impossible to do as Rebecca was perfect in every single way. Hard to be measured against a beautiful ghost. The story unravels quite well, and when I first read it I didn't see it coming. Another novel with fascinating and strong female characters. Get swept away (joke!) with Rebecca!