If there’s any time in the year to pause and get some reading done, it’s the summer. With the warm weather upon us and with (hopefully) some more free time, there really is no better feeling than picking up a great book and getting lost in the endless words and pages, giving your eyes and mind a break from the constant screens that saturate our lives, and letting your own imagination run wild with the stories you read.
Partial to the fiction and historical fiction genre, you’ll find below a curated list of novels that I’ve heard great things about all around and are sure to be on my reading list this summer. Happy reading friends! (And fair warning: I’ve realized how terrible I am at writing summaries for books from writing this post, so bear with me)
1. Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
This one’s first on the list because I was too excited about this novel that I had to start reading right away. I’m only three chapters in and I already know this will be one of my favourite books this year. A story chronicling the prominent slave trade in Ghana and ever-growing British colonialism, Homegoing tells of two half sisters who grow up on opposite sides of the slave trade and tells an inter-generational story of how the descendants of these sisters are affected by the implications of slavery. Can I completely and absolutely recommend a book even though I haven’t finished it yet?
2. Exit West – Mohsin Hamid
Hailed as one of Obama’s favourite books last year by the man himself, Exit West follows two people who meet and begin a relationship amongst the political backdrop of civil war. Poignantly capturing the immigrant experience and very timely, the excitement to dive into this novel is at an all-time high.
3. The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mohsin Hamid
Can you tell I’m on a Mohsin Hamid kick? To be honest, the sole reason why I picked up this book was because it was sitting right next to Exit West on the bookshelf. I hadn’t heard anything about this novel prior to buying it, but upon doing some research after the fact, The Reluctant Fundamentalist has received many great reviews and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize! Who knew?
The entire span of the novel takes place on just one evening at a cafe in Lahore where a Pakistani man recounts his time in the US to an American he happens to meet there. Just by skimming through the pages, Hamid seems to use a storytellling framework unique from any other book I’ve read.
4. The Hero’s Walk – Anita Rau Badami
Have to represent the Canadian reads out there! Set in the small town of Bengal, India, The Hero’s Walk is a quiet story of the “everyman”, living life on a day-to-day basis and having to face the challenges and barriers that stumble onto one’s path.
5. East of Eden – John Steinbeck
This one’s a big book. Slightly intimidated to read this, but I’ve heard that it is a book full of lush storytelling and characters written with great depth and charm. Set in the Salinas Valley of Northern California, East of Eden examines two families in conflict with each other and all the harrowing situations they get wrapped up in, with some Biblical allusions added for good measure.
Apparently, Steinbeck called this novel his masterpiece and has said of it, quote, “It has everything in it I have been able to learn about my craft or profession in all these years…I think everything else I have written has been, in a sense, practice for this.” If that doesn’t make you want to read this book, I don’t know what will!
I’d love to know, what are your book recommendations or novels that will be on your reading list this summer?