Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Summer (Beach) Reading Recommendations

booksHappy June! Memorial Day is behind us and it’s officially the season for beach reading (beach optional, but some sort of water and swimsuit and cold beverage is a must). I’m in the market for some easy reading, so I scoured a bunch of summer reading lists where each of these five new books made multiple appearances and appealed to me enough to at least try to score a copy at the library, if not shell out a few bucks for a kindle copy. Here they are:

51miICppIIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The Girls: A Novel by Emma Cline
This novel is getting all kinds of buzz and is topping multiple summer book lists this year. Set in Northern California at the end of the violent 60s, The Girls is about a teenage girl who befriends “a mesmerizing older girl and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader.” It is said to be loosely based on the story of Charles Manson and the young women who were drawn to his cult.

41YQ0Poph7L._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam
Also omnipresent on the summer book lists, Rich and Pretty follows two childhood best friends as they travel, in their 30s, down separate paths that threaten to pull them apart.



51lprRT5YCL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Modern Lovers by Emma Straub
Three college friends and former bandmates live in gentrified Brooklyn and confront the reality of growing older as they have to “suddenly pass the torch (of sexuality, independence, and the ineffable alchemy of cool) to their own offspring.”


51xRhY8jwDL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This epic novel follows the very different paths of two half-sisters born in eighteenth-century Ghana, one of whom is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in a castle, while the other is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons and then sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. The novel follows the lives and descendants of each, right up through the present day.

51EGAvxEcyL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_And because I’m turning forty this year: The Year We Turned Forty
“Three best friends get the chance to return to the year they turned forty—the year that altered all of their lives, in ways big and small—and also get the opportunity to change their future. But it doesn’t take long for all three women to learn that re-living a life and making different decisions only leads to new problems and consequences—and that the mistakes they made may, in fact, have been the best choices of all…”

Do you have any recommendations for beach books or anything you’re particularly looking forward to reading on your summer vacation(s) this year?

14 comments… add one
  • Betsy June 1, 2016, 1:40 pm

    Amy Hatvany is great! I’m reading “Somewhere Out There” now and it’s so good!!


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  • Vathena June 1, 2016, 1:52 pm

    I just finished “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld, and it was a really fun read (it’s a modern-day take on “Pride and Prejudice”). “American Wife”, also by Curtis Sittenfeld, was my summer read of choice a couple of years ago.

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    • K June 3, 2016, 11:26 am

      I LOVE Curtis Sittenfeld, she’s probably my favorite author. Loved “Eligible”! Read “Prep”, her first novel, if you haven’t. It’s my favorite of hers.

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  • Lianne June 1, 2016, 2:07 pm

    These all sound good and perfect for me while I’m nursing. I started Roots, but not sure it’s going to work with the sleep deprivation so I may need to revisit it in a few months (sorry, Kate!!).

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  • Lianne June 1, 2016, 2:08 pm

    Oh, and on someone’s recommendation here (I’m pretty sure it was a reader’s recs), I recently finished The Kitchen House and absolutely loved it. It was a book I couldn’t put down.

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    • K June 3, 2016, 11:24 am

      That was me! Yay! The sequel recently came out, I need to re-read The Kitchen House before I read the sequel though.

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  • Friend of Beagles June 1, 2016, 2:31 pm

    This one is more of a “stormy summer night” or “after the campfire” read, but I do recommend it (and not just because I have a story in it–I’m in such good company I’m overshadowed, but it’s all for the good).

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  • Martha Arntson June 1, 2016, 5:20 pm

    I am reading a book called “Breakfast at the Beach House Hotel” by Judith Keim, and I love it. I just finished reading Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax. I am hoping this new book will inspire me as the other 2 have! I love stories of women who leave bad marriages (or are kicked out of them) and how they overcome all obstacles!

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  • snoopy128 June 2, 2016, 1:02 pm

    Perfect timing. I leave for a beach vacation soon and can’t wait to devour some books! Unfortunately, I’ve been rather light on the reading lately and can’t contribute a suggestion.

    I did read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff- if you like realistic novels with mythical elements it’s a good one. The writing style is rather interesting- I actually hated the rhythm of it until about 1/2 way in when it sort of clicked for me and I realized I was reading and thinking in the pattern of the narrative.

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    • Vathena June 3, 2016, 11:38 am

      “Fates and Furies” really stayed with me. I read “Arcadia” (same author) shortly after and it was excellent as well, with a structure that was a bit easier to follow. Recommended!

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  • Skyblossom June 3, 2016, 6:33 am

    Not a book recommendation, just a comment. I didn’t find turning 40 to be a life changing event. Graduating from college was life changing as was getting married and the births of each of my children. My husband having cancer was life changing. All of those things happened before either of us turned 40. Everything from 40 on has been coasting. The toddler years were over. We were established in our home and social groups and jobs. Our expenses were more or less fixed but our income continued to climb. Everything became easier and easier. Now we have no mortgage and we are able to do things easily that would have been more difficult previously.

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    • Dear Wendy June 3, 2016, 7:19 am

      I don’t think of turning 40 as life-changing, but I definitely see it as a milestone. Each decade has had a theme — my 20s was about searching (for direction, for a purpose, for love, etc.), my 30s was about creating a life for myself (I moved to New York, got married, got settled in Brooklyn, launched DW, and had two babies, made lots of new friends), and I think my 40s will be, like you said, more about coasting — or enjoying the fruits of the labor of my 30s. The kids will continue getting easier to care for on a day-to-day basis, we’re more comfortable financially, we hope to buy a home soon and settle in. Two things I’m particularly not looking forward to in my 40s is losing my cats (they’re 11 and 17, respectively) and watching my parents age and become less independent. Other than those things though, I expect my 40s to be pretty fantastic!

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      • MissDre June 3, 2016, 8:12 am

        Awww Wendy your comment just made me feel so much better about turning 30 (which is coming up this month). 30 seems like a big milestone for me and it’s feeling a bit scary, but I like what you said about themes, about your 20s being about searching. I hope my 30s can be about creating a life for myself too (already bought a house this year, so I’m on my way I hope!).

      • Skyblossom June 3, 2016, 8:27 am

        When I look at the ages I realize I did have a toddler when I turned 40 but that stage passes so quickly it was a blip and then she was in preschool and then regular school. I’d like people to savor where they are in life rather than dread going through life. We enjoyed our 20s and 30s and 40s and now we’re enjoying our 50s. The best thing you can do is change things that aren’t working in your life whether that is a job, friends or partner. Cut out the bad and surround yourself with good and enjoy where you are.


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