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I don’t know about you guys, but I love summer. It’s the only time of year where I actually get some time for myself! I know a lot of you are in a similar boat. You don’t have enough time to work on yourself because you’re too busy trying to make a living. So I’m here to help make it easier! That’s what Uninspired is all about, after all. Taking some of the work out of being your best self so you can not only survive, but thrive. In this post, that means taking the guesswork out of what to read this summer, with lots of options that’ll make you feel good. All you need to do is find your beach chair, plop it somewhere (preferably at the edge of the water, I’d say) and read.
In this post, you’ll find options for a bunch of different needs. If you’re looking for self-help books to directly answer questions about adulting, I got ’em. If you’re looking for a new fictional world to escape to for a bit, I gotcha covered there, too. I got poems and I got novels. Fiction and nonfiction. Memoirs? You betcha. And if there are any books you love, I strongly encourage you to keep this list going in the comments! I’d love to hear your suggestions.
If you’re interested in any of the books, each photo is my affiliate link to Amazon, so you can just click and buy!
What to Read: Summer 2018
What to Read If You Need An Escape:
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
The Night Circus is a fantasy book about a black and white circus. It arrives in cities without warning and is only open at night. Among the many enchanting characters are two magicians destined to kill each other, their fates decided by their caretakers when they were too young to understand. Of course, the magicians fall in love, which makes their challenge all the more difficult.
I put The Night Circus on my What to Read list because, while I feel the plot is a little abrupt, the writing is beautiful and it’s just such an enchanting world to fall into. I was riveted from the start, though less by the story and more by the descriptions of Le Cirque des Reves and the characters. This is a great example of what to read if you’re looking to escape this summer. Click on the photo to buy:
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
This book is written so beautifully, it reads almost like poetry. And the characters have such depth that they actually feel real, which I often find myself liking more than a plot-based book with thin characters.
It’s about a girl named Astrid and her mother Ingrid. Ingrid is a jaw-dropper and a brilliant poet with a habit of luring men in just to break their hearts. But when Ingrid has her own heart broken, she poisons the man with white oleander and must go to prison for life. This means Astrid is sentenced to a life in the foster system. Readers follow her to five foster homes as she processes the trauma and suffers more at each home, and as she grapples with keeping a relationship with her mother.
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
You’ve probably heard of Big Little Lies. It’s one of the biggest books out there in the past couple of years, and has even sparked it’s own HBO series. It was a little slow to start, with a lot of setup for the many characters and plot details, but once the drama started hitting, it did not slow until the last page.
Big Little Lies is about three women, Madeline, Celeste and Jane, with interweaving stories that all lead to a mysterious murder. They are friends because their kids are all starting kindergarten together, but they each have secrets and dirty laundry that would shock the others. It’s a powerful story that touches on themes of family values, domestic violence, and friendship. Put this on your What to Read list, and then watch the HBO series! if you don’t have HBO, you can find all the episodes on Amazon for $2.99 each, or use your HBO 7-day free trial through Amazon!
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty is an Australian national treasure. The Hypnotist’s Love Story is about a hypnotherapist named Ellen, who finally starts dating a guy she likes after years of bad luck in love. So, she’s actually quite thrilled when Patrick sits her down to have a talk, and it’s not to break up. It’s to tell her that he has a stalker.
The Hypnotist’s Love Story is what to read this summer if you’re looking to connect with characters and see from a new perspective. Moriarty is insanely talented when it comes to character development, and she makes it so easy to understand how a person could become as out of control as Saskia. It’s also a great book to read if you’re looking for a beachy setting to get you in the summer spirit.
What to Read for Self-Help and Adulting Techniques
Adultolescence by Gabbie Hanna
Adultolescence makes the What to Read list because it’s a quick poetry book that’ll make you feel so much better about being in your twenties. You can read it in an afternoon, and it’ll really make you feel like you’re not alone. It’s witty, yet has its moments of seriousness when it comes to the existential crises twenty-somethings face.
The style is similar to that of Rupi Kaur, Atticus, or R.M. Drake, but with more humor cut in. Short, but packs a punch. This is what to read this summer if you need to feel like someone else understands what you’re going through in this stage of your life.
You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Jen Sincero’s first book was simply titled “You are a Badass,” and it was all about how to stop doubting yourself so you can do all the great things you’re secretly capable of. Very much up the Uninspired alley. However, I have not read that book yet, so it is not officially on this list. I wouldn’t want to recommend something I haven’t read. I have read Sincero’s second book though, titled You are a Badass at Making Money.
Sincero uses a similar framework to that of her first book, saying that in order to get what you want, you mostly just have to believe it’s achievable. In terms of increasing your income, that means you really have to examine what your beliefs are about money. For example, she says some people have strong negative beliefs about people who make a lot of money. Because of that, their subconscious keeps them from becoming that person they don’t want to be by holding them back from generating more income. I won’t give away the whole book, but that gives you an idea of what it’s like.
Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
I must be getting old, because I’m having trouble keeping track of all the newfangled models of things that helped me #adult. Now, there’s a version of this book with a whopping 535 steps instead of the paltry 468.
Anyway, Kelly does an amazing job of teaching you how to do 468 (535) things without making you feel stupid. While she tells you what she’s learned about being an adult– in every category from friendship to toilets– she also shares her failures and inserts her charming wit. It’s truly hilarious and chock full of useful knowledge. This is probably the book I recommend most highly out of this whole post. Especially if you’re wondering what to read for the most inspiration to be your best self in your twenties.
What to Read if You’re Looking For Something Quick and Simple
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
Turtles All The Way Down is a lot more YA than the rest of the books on this list. It stars high school students and a plot that would likely never happen, though we might wish it could. That’s a little bit of why I put it on the list. It’s healthy to suspend disbelief for a little while and believe in something silly.
Turtles All The Way Down is about a girl names Aza who has OCD. She has several long internal monologues throughout the book about the consequences of not purging herself of germs. One day, her estranged billionaire friend Davis Pickett’s dad become a fugitive, and there’s huge reward for whoever returns him. Aza’s best friend is dead set on finding him, but Davis gives the girls the reward money in exchange for not divulging information about where he is. Throughout this dilemma, Davis and Aza begin to fall in love, but it’s not all roses and hundred dollar bills. Will Aza’s disordered thinking keep her from having a normal relationship?
Spoiler alert: yes. But still, how? And where is Davis’s dad?
John Green is the master of the satisfying yet unsatisfying ending. And he knows his way around a mental heath issue, leading to some thought-provoking commentary. So, put Turtles All The Way Down on your What to Read list if you’re looking for some easy teen drama with a subtle scent of depth. Again, you can click my affiliate link in the picture to buy:Related: Self-Care Books for Twenty-Somethings
Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
I bought this book for a couple reasons. The first was that I had just finished Gilmore Girls and Parenthood and needed more Lauren Graham in my life. She’s such a breath of fresh air. The second was that I love books written by famous people. They’re such wild cards. They can be either surprisingly coherent and profound, or surprisingly terrible. (RE: terrible books– Palo Alto by James Franco and his use of the phrase “gaping gap.” Gaps are inherently gaping. See the first three letters.)
Anyway, Talking As Fast As I Can is a super easy read. It’s a series of personal essays Graham wrote about her time of the set of Gilmore Girls, some behind-the-scenes information about the revival, and much more. She gives advice, talks about her love life, all in her trademark sharp wit. In some places it does seem like she’s trying to tackle a lot- giving advice, spilling set secrets, explaining her upbringing (on a houseboat) etc. But I think that’s part of who she is, which makes the book feel that much more like you’re getting to know the real Lauren. Seriously, her voice comes through just as well via the written word as it does in person.
I’ve been thinking of doing an entire reading list of books by famous people. There are so many good and bad ones I’d love to talk about. But while I’m trying to figure out what to read for that list so you don’t have to, I’ll at least know you’re set with what to read this summer!
Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
I used to love Jodi Picoult with the fire now reserved for Liane Moriarty. I think I’ve moved on because I realized what I said earlier– I like character-based books more than plot-based. That’s not to say Picoult’s characters are poorly done, but the draw to her books tend to be what’s happening to the characters rather than who they are.
Between the Lines was actually conceived by Picoult’s teenage daughter, Samantha Van Leer. Knowing that, the premise of the book makes perfect sense. It’s about a girl who falls in love with a fictional character from her favorite fairytale, who turns out to be quite real, and harboring a desire to leave the book. Together, they try to figure out how to do that, all the while falling in love. I feel like this is exactly what the offspring of Jodi Picoult would write.
Like Turtles, this is going to be a book where you need your very best suspension of disbelief. There are lots of things you just need to take at face value. For example, Delilah asks her fictional prince if all books are real alternate universes and he’s just like, I dunno. And we never find out. We never know if this book is special. I also didn’t understand how Delilah could be so special that she’s the only person in the entire world who could see this book was changing. There are lots of detail-oriented people out there. However, I do enjoy the classic teen love, where kisses are always electric and cheeks nuzzle perfectly into necks, yada yada. Personally, I needed that in my life more than I needed a perfect plot. So, Between the Lines is what to read for an easy breezy, classic romance.
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
The Nest is on the What to Read list for a very peculiar reason. I’d say it’s laughably bad.
It was hyped the fuck up. It got entire displays at Target and Barnes and Noble and a review by Amy Poehler calling it “intoxicating”. And it was all setup for a really, truly poorly written book. At first, I thought this was unpopular opinion. Then I looked at reviews on Amazon, and many felt the same way. The characters had no depth. As one reviewer on Amazon said, they were all classic NYC tropes. A writer mourning lost love, a gay guy in the antiquing business, a wild card who needs rehab, and basically one who’s just happy to be here. And the writing was so. dry. God, the first thing they teach you in writing classes is show don’t tell. Sweeney has no grasp of that whatsoever.
I just feel like half the magic of books is being able to insert yourself into them. And when nothing is left to the imagination, it is very hard for a reader to relate. Why would they care about a book they can’t relate to? I have to say, I did not care about the trope-y Plumb family or whether or not they got their joint trust fund (their “nest”). However, I did finish it because it made me feel good about myself. If this book can make it out to shelves and sell as well as it does, my chance for success is still out there.
So, that’s the list!
What types of books do you like to read over the summer? What do your favorite books all have in common? Leave a comment with answers to those questions, or a list of your favorite reads!