Best Books to Read on Spring Break 2018
While it means different things to different people, I find something exciting about the idea of a spring break. I do not have children, who will be out of classes for a designated period of time, nor do I receive a spring break from my professional life; however, the weather is getting warmer, the time has changing (more post-workday outdoor reading light!), and the anticipation of a new season feels more pronounced.
Whether you have planned dedicated spring break adventures, or simply desire a way to acknowledge the season with a little relaxing renewal, everyone deserves an excuse to read more books! If you're searching for your next great read, here's a list that offers something for everyone.
A Dramatic Escape:
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (review)
The prose is completely captivating, the story powerfully compelling; I had no idea how quickly I would read through this novel but, once I began, I could not stop. Roy Hamilton and Celestial Davenport have been married for less than two years when Roy is convicted of a crime he did not commit, then sentenced to twelve years in prison; An American Marriage is about unspoken expectations, idealization and fearful wondering during extended absence, and our roles and responsibilities as individuals, sometimes spouses, to one another.
Brass by Xhenet Aliu (review)
A powerful debut novel that I will not soon forget, Aliu shares the lives of Elsie and Luljeta, a mother and daughter, and they beautifully quench my thirst for the types of stories that both build and break, with plenty of laughter mixed in via witty, sarcastic observations.
Panorama by Steve Kistulentz
Another well-written debut, Panorama is centered around one seminal event - a plane crash - and demonstrates the way in which its impact spreads over a single day. While it is certainly a story of tragedy and unexpected death, Panorama also highlights those moments before, when we don’t yet know what’s coming, and the way in which those who are affected respond after such an event. I was highly impressed with the writing and pleasantly invested in each character.
Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
A beautifully-crafted story about two Chinese American sisters, one who struggles with mental illness, and the evolution of their relationship after the death of their mother; a stunning debut effort. I'm not sure I realized how much I enjoyed this book until after I'd finished it, then carried these two sisters around with me for weeks after; read this review from Novel Visits for a great recommendation.
The Gunners by Rebecca Kauffman
A group of childhood best friends are reunited, in their 30s, due to the suicide of one of the group; while this is not a new theme, The Gunners stands out for its honest, messy and surprising characters that feel refreshingly authentic and relatable. Be prepared: when you pick this one up, you'll have a tough time putting it down.
A Little Fun:
Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella (review)
Sylvie and Dan, a married couple with twin daughters, begin to contemplate what "'til death do us part" might entail after a recent physical for an insurance policy reveals their potential to live for another 68 years. Through her delightful characters, Kinsella lends levity to the subject; Sylvie proposes the "Surprise Me" project to Dan, which sounds fun and exciting; true to form, the real surprise comes in the form of the meaning and significance that Kinsella sneaks in when we are least suspecting it.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (review)
I would certainly be open to more reading from the romance genre if there were more books available like this one! While The Wedding Date is certainly a witty, smart, funny and romantic story, it includes real world problems. Guillory's reluctance to shy away from topics like the pitfalls of interracial relationships and body image issues prevents the slip into predictable territory. In addition, I could easily relate to sassy Alexa who is desperate to remain tough, even when she most wants to break down on the couch with ice cream and television.
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin (review)
This debut novel centers around Zadie Smith and Emma Colley, two women whose friendship began during their early days of medical school, and the ways in which their lives have taken shape after graduation. Martin includes some of my favorite elements: female friendship, marriage, complicated relationship dynamics, old secrets and, of course, hospital life. Queen of Hearts has been compared to Grey's Anatomy, but I insist that it is much more entertaining; highly recommend!
Laura & Emma by Kate Greathead (review)
From her daily uniform to her take on relationships and sex, Laura's unique, quirky voice felt so authentic (and funny!) from the very beginning that I was completely hooked; this is a highly entertaining debut! In spite of her wealthy upbringing, Laura steps to her own beat; when she discovers that a rare one-night encounter has left her pregnant, Emma changes her world forever.
The Italian Party by Christina Lynch
In her debut, Lynch includes a little of everything I love: well-kept secrets; bits of historical fiction; mystery; politics; and complicated relationships, all with the whimsical, old Hollywood feel of a tromp through Italy in the 1950s. It's sharp, it's funny and, sometimes, a little dark; this is a perfect not-too-serious escape!
What Just Happened?
The Wife Between Us by Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks
If you think The Wife Between Us is a story about a jilted wife jealous of her husband's new fiancée, you're not quite right. This is a story about how things are seldom as simple as they seem, and how appearances can be deceiving. It's also a story about trust, fear, truth, manipulation, and finding your own way. Hendricks and Pekkanen throw a lot of twists into this book; every time you think you have things figured out, they swerve again, and I was not disappointed!
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
Five female coworkers head out on a corporate team-building adventure in the Australian wilderness; they have one map, a compass, and enough food and supplies to get them to their first campsite/aid station. Sounds like fun? Unfortunately, they get lost and all hell breaks loose. A quick read with lots of relationship dynamics, secrets, betrayal and...murder?
Sunburn by Laura Lippman
New York Times bestselling author Laura Lippman returns with a psychological thriller about a pair of lovers with the best intentions and the worst luck: two people locked in a passionate yet uncompromising game of cat and mouse. But instead of rules, this game has dark secrets, forbidden desires, inevitable betrayals and, yes, murder. An endorsement from Sarah's Book Shelves sealed the deal!
Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney
Sometimes I Lie is the story of a woman named Amber Reynolds, who wakes up (sort of, she is in a coma but can hear and understand everything that's going on around her) in a hospital with no recollection of how she got there. Through a combination of flashbacks and present observations she starts to piece it all together but there'll be many twists before she finds her answers. Add this to the list of reads that will keep you glued to your seat until you reach the end; you'll also be dying to discuss (send me a message!).
When You Need Someone to Read to You (audiobooks):
Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (review)
Not only for true "fans" of The Bachelor franchise, Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise--ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She narrates this edition and it is highly entertaining!
Educated by Tara Westover
Born and raised in a rather secluded area of Idaho, to survivalist parents, Westover's father believed that "whatever it is, God will take care of it." Her family never utilized the professional medical community, even in life-threatening situations, and did not believe that the public school system was to be trusted with one's education. As a healthcare professional, I cannot explain the shock I experienced while listening to this story; nevertheless, I was amazed at Tara's resilience and determination to find her own answers and build a life outside of the only environment she'd ever known. A must-read and the narration is really good.
Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
From Sex and the City to Mean Girls, our concept of female friendship has evolved over the years and often remains an elusive concept; Schaefer utilizes some of my favorite pop culture references to examine the significance of female friendship and, I have to admit, when I finished this one I wanted to hop on a flight to visit my bestie. A meaningful, thought-provoking read; highly recommend!