Books I Loved This Summer

Officially we have another couple of weeks of summer left. But as everyone heads back to work and school, we all know that actually the summer is totally over. Sure, you can all sneak in some evenings in late summer sunshine, pretending like picnics in the park or at the beach are still every day but you’re lying to yourselves.

I’m not including myself in this because I’ve been waiting for summer to be over since May.

Still, summer is good for some things and one of those is reading. I had a more low-key reading summer than I’m used to but I still did manage to read some wonderful books. I didn’t manage to post about many over the summer so I’m telling you about them now.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Oh my god, this book! I put off reading it because its length put me off. I wasn’t sure I had it in me to finish 479 pages this summer. Don’t let that put you off if you haven’t already read it. This gorgeous multi-generational story set in Korea and Japan is a stunner, a must-read. It was the kind of book I thought about when I wasn’t reading it, one I couldn’t wait to get back to. I told so many people about this book when I was reading it because I wanted to talk about it. A great book club selection if you’re looking for one!

The Vanity Fair Diaries 1983-1992 by Tina Brown. This was a great book to dip in and out of as circumstances required. Brown’s memoir of her time editing Vanity Fair is eye-opening, gossipy and whip smart. It was a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the people who shape our media landscape, made all the better as Brown herself is learning how to play the game. It was refreshing to read a story about a woman going after her dream job and coming to best those who would try and keep her in her place.

Tin Man by Sarah Winman. More of a novella, I wasn’t at all sure that I was going to love this book and then it ended and I felt like I’d been punched in the heart. Tin Man is a kind of unrequited love story with so many layers, it’ll have you thinking about it long after you finished the last page.

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir. We all know I’m a reality TV junkie and I really appreciate when this interest shows up in my reading. It happened with Jessica Knoll’s The Favorite Sister as well (another of my favourites this summer). Both books offered a closer look at the people who make these shows, about what really goes on behind the cameras (I know they’re both fiction but they’re not, you know?), and examines the impact on the people who are featured and the ones who watch.

Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History by Erik Larson. This was the only one of Larson’s books I hadn’t read yet and it was hard to find. When I saw a copy at the bookstore early in the summer, I didn’t even hesitate before I grabbed it. Reading this book nearly a year after Hurricane Harvey was kind of unsettling. In 1900, no one took the force of the storm seriously and it ended up killing around 6,000 people and leveling Galveston, Texas. Before the storm, it had been competing with Houston as the fastest growing city in the region. Larson has an incredible talent for finding the human element in all of his stories and Isaac’s Storm is no different. Sadly, it doesn’t seem as if we’ve come that far when it comes to taking weather seriously.

The Romanov Empress by C.W. Gortner is the first story to feature Empress Maria Feodorovna and honestly, that shocks me. She saw so much history over her lifetime (1847-1928): married to Alexander III, the mother of Nicholas II, related to English, Danish and Greek royals at a turbulent time for monarchy. Gortner ably handles this overlooked woman in history and I loved every page of The Romanov Empress. Thanks to Catherine @ Gilmore Guide to Books for my copy!

So that’s the highlights tour. Did you read any of these? What did you read this summer that you loved?

19 thoughts on “Books I Loved This Summer

  1. I’m with you on summer being over. For me, it’s mostly about the weather (I don’t like the heat, and this year was HOT! I think it was there, too, wasn’t it?), but it’s also nice when the kids get back into a routine after 2 months of staying up way too late!
    How is the smoke situation over there at this point? When we were getting the haze all the way from BC, I thought of you and wondered how you were coping with it.

    Pachinko sounds right up my alley. And Tin Man sounds good, too. I’m glad to hear you liked Isaac’s Storm – I have it but haven’t read it yet. I love reading about storms!

    • Oh Naomi, I am the SAME. I can’t with hot weather and the fires every year now…it wasn’t as bad as last year but it was still smokey and hot and awful. We basically stayed inside for weeks – not worth the risk!
      I cannot say enough good things about Pachinko – please read it! Tin Man’s a good one to slide in to pad the stats – it’s so short! Less than 200 pages I think.

    • You really do need to read both. Isaac’s Storm would be a good one for Nonfiction November! It’s not super long and reads more like a novel.
      The sleep training has gone really well (knock on wood) – I have about 4 hours a day of downtime guaranteed and she’s in bed by 7:30 every night, sleeping til around 4:30. Amazing what a reliable schedule can do for a person.

  2. Loved Book of Essie (and Favorite Sister) and also the fact that reality TV is now becoming an interesting backdrop for fiction!

    I stayed away from Pachinko for the same reason…maybe I should give it a shot.

  3. With you (and Naomi) about the summer. It felt like the worst bits (health-wise) were always on the weekends, too, so there were plenty of disappointments on that score, having thought one thing was possible and then having to make other plans. I haven’t read any of the books on your list, but most of them are on my TBR. Now I’m especially sorry to have left an audiobook of Pachinko in the library last week: it sounded long (when they measured it in hours, y’know?) but now I am thinking it might have been a nice distraction from the final (hopefully) humid days of the season. I’m still enjoying the Louise Erdrich novels I’ve been reading; sometimes they are slow-starters but I always end up getting attached to the characters, and I love that some of the families sprawl across the body of her work.

  4. You had so many great reads this summer! Tin Man was stunning. So simple but so impactful. And of course, Essie! Don’t you think the Duggars must be furious about that book? It is basically the truth of that family.

    I’m so glad you liked The Romanov Empress. I thought it was marvelous. Do you think Maria and Alexandra really hated each other that much? I kind of do. Alexandra was no picnic.

    • OK I could talk for hours about the Romanov women. This book was NOT sympathetic to Alexandra and I absolutely think that Maria and Alix’s relationship was like this. BUT I also think that the Russian court was really hard on Alix from the start. Here was a woman who lost her mother as a small child, was “close” with her grandmother and had to give up her religion and her home in England to be with the man she loved. Neither of them really understood their position…
      Seriously, HOURS.

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