Tired of everyone recommending the latest pink-covered ‘chick lit’? Looking for something good to read this summer? We asked six smart, talented writers to share their favorite summer book with us.
The glossy pages of Samantha Hahn’s Well-Read Women won’t mix well with the sand and greasy sunscreen droplets that a typical “beach read” can weather, but for quick morsels snuck before bed or on your lunch break, Hahn’s coffee table book is just right. This smart and sophisticated “picture book” is filled with Hahn’s watercolor portraits of literary heroines (think a mix of classics like Antigone and Juliet Capulet and more modern misses like Nancy Drew and Holly Golightly). Best of all, a portion of the proceeds from the book are donated to A Room to Read (a subtle Virginia Woolf reference?), a non-profit that focuses on furthering girls’ literacy education worldwide. While not every quote selected to accompany the portraits would be the one I would personally choose, each set of pages inspires the reader to drop back into old favorites (you can never re-read The Great Gatsby too many times) as well as to educate herself on those classics she hasn’t yet experienced. — ANN SANTORI
Peace Like a River
This novel by Leif Enger is the tale of a family torn apart by violent forces told from the point of view of an asthmatic 11 year old named Reuben. After taking revenge on the vicious group of men who attacked his girlfriend and kidnapped his sister, Reuben’s brother Davy goes on the run from the police. Now, the whole family–including Reuben’s miracle performing father Jeremiah–must journey into a dangerous world of lawmen and renegades to bring him back. I loved the book’s evocative language and the captivating voice of the 11 year old narrator kept me turning the pages. My favorite aspects, though, and the parts that really stayed with me are the examinations of faith, family, and courage. — MIRANDA BAILEY
Curtis Sittenfeld’s Sisterland… I couldn’t put it down, which is saying a lot, considering I’m usually reading five things at once and rarely finish anything. The story focuses on twin sisters (tapping into my deep love for The Sweet Valley High series) who have psychic powers. It never gets crazy supernatural, which is good for me, because I can’t read that anything spooky before bed. I also love the weaving between adulthood and adolescence, the latter being what drew me to the author with her first book, Prep. This is Sittenfeld’s fourth novel, and may be my favorite. – LYNN CHEN
The Goblin Emperor
Game of Thrones is on summer hiatus, and if you’re still itchy for epic, sweeping political fantasy, Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor is my must-read book of the summer—if not the whole year. Addison’s beautifully written debut has all the intrigue, ethical shades of grey, and scope of George R. R. Martin’s award-winning novels—but in one, stand-alone book with a unique ethic of its very own. Maia, the half-goblin youngest son of the Emperor of the Elflands, is called out of exile to take the throne after the assassination of his father and three half-brothers. Plunged into a complicated, divided court and painfully aware of his own ignorance, Maia must take—and keep—his throne, bring the assassins to justice, and find a way to make his rule, unwanted and unasked-for, more worthwhile than that of his father. The answers he finds are hard-won, and utterly stunning. An amazingly beautiful fantasy written around the core value of compassion, kindness, and community in the face of betrayal, which asks not just who should be king, but what makes a good king—and how to get there. An utterly absorbing read for both the seasoned fantasy fan and readers new to the genre. – LEAH BOBET
Johnson Decree Number Thirty-Seven
Since her small town’s beauty pageant began years ago, every female in Geena Johnson’s family has won and the quirky inhabitants believe this winning streak to be the sole reason why their town flourishes. Now, it is Geena’s turn but the youngest member of the prestigious Johnson clan absolutely refuses to compete. Geena soon realizes, however, that the more she tries to get herself expelled from the pageant, the more everyone tries to keep her in it. Yet, after gathering her own group of misfit helpers, Geena defiantly vows to change destiny. Written by Elana Faryll. - SHANA FEIBEL
The Woman Upstairs
She’s the nice, single, middle-aged woman who lives in the flat upstairs. Everyone knows one—but do they really know her? Messud’s darkly glittering novel breathes life into this stock figure and adds a remarkable twist to themes of unexpected love, second chances at broken dreams, and artistic obsession. Can the woman upstairs find fulfillment in art and relationships? At what cost? Claire Messud’s writing is magnetic. – MELISSA REESER POULIN
This was originally published on Move LifeStyle.