Recommended Books to Read This Summer

Summer is kicking off and we have some great books on our summer reading list! We have compiled a variety of best-sellers for 2019 that are sure to appeal to all kinds of readers. These are 15 highly rated books that range from thriller novels, love stories, and historical dramas that will captivate you this summer!

American Spy, by Lauren Wilkinson

It’s 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She’s brilliant, but she’s also a young black woman working in an old boys’ club. Her career has stalled out, she’s overlooked for every high-profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she’s given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic revolutionary president of Burkina Faso whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Sankara is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she’s being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Sankara, seduce him, and ultimately have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James

Tracker is known far and wide for his skills as a hunter: “He has a nose,” people say. Engaged to track down a mysterious boy who disappeared three years earlier, Tracker breaks his own rule of always working alone when he finds himself part of a group that comes together to search for the boy. The band is a hodgepodge, full of unusual characters with secrets of their own, including a shape-shifting man-animal known as Leopard.

As Tracker follows the boy’s scent–from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers–he and the band are set upon by creatures intent on destroying them. As he struggles to survive, Tracker starts to wonder: Who, really, is this boy? Why has he been missing for so long? Why do so many people want to keep Tracker from finding him? And perhaps the most important questions of all: Who is telling the truth, and who is lying?

Gingerbread, by Helen Oyeyemi

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met. 

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value.

Golden Child, by Claire Adam

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life.

Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, 13 years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.

When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters – leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.

Inheritance, by Dani Shapiro

What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?

In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history – the life she had lived – crumbled beneath her.

Inheritance is an audiobook about secrets – secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than 50 years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is an audiobook about the extraordinary moment we live in – a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics, but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.

My Lovely Wife, by Samantha Downing

We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have our secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

On the Come Up, by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri’s got massive shoes to fill.

But it’s hard to get your come up when you’re labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral…for all the wrong reasons.

Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn’t just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be.  

Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

The Age of Light, by Whitney Scharer

A captivating debut novel by Whitney Scharer, The Age of Light tells the true story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse. “I’d rather take a photograph than be one,” she declares after she arrives in Paris in 1929, where she soon catches the eye of the famous Surrealist Man Ray. Though he wants to use her only as a model, Lee convinces him to take her on as his assistant and teach her everything he knows. As they work together in the darkroom, their personal and professional lives become intimately entwined, changing the course of Lee’s life forever.

Lee’s journey of self-discovery takes took her from the cabarets of bohemian Paris to the battlefields of war-torn Europe during WWII, from inventing radical new photography techniques to documenting the liberation of the concentration camps as one of the first female war correspondents. Through it all, Lee must grapple with the question of whether it’s possible to stay true to herself while also fulfilling her artistic ambition–and what she will have to sacrifice to do so.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, by Anissa Gray

The Butler family has had their share of trials—as sisters Althea, Viola, and Lillian can attest—but nothing prepared them for the literal trial that will upend their lives.

Althea, the eldest sister and substitute matriarch, is a force to be reckoned with and her younger sisters have alternately appreciated and chafed at her strong will. They are as stunned as the rest of the small community when she and her husband, Proctor, are arrested, and in a heartbeat the family goes from one of the most respected in town to utter disgrace. The worst part is, not even her sisters are sure exactly what happened.

As Althea awaits her fate, Lillian and Viola must come together in the house they grew up in to care for their sister’s teenage daughters. What unfolds is a stunning portrait of the heart and core of an American family in a story that is as page-turning as it is important.

The Dreamers, by Karen Thompson Walker

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

The Night Tiger, by Yangsze Choo

Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother’s Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.

Eleven-year-old houseboy Ren is also on a mission, racing to fulfill his former master’s dying wish: that Ren find the man’s finger, lost years ago in an accident, and bury it with his body. Ren has 49 days to do so, or his master’s soul will wander the earth forever.

As the days tick relentlessly by, a series of unexplained deaths racks the district, along with whispers of men who turn into tigers. Ji Lin and Ren’s increasingly dangerous paths crisscross through lush plantations, hospital storage rooms, and ghostly dreamscapes.

The Silent Patient, by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought. And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

The Weight of a Piano, by Chris Cander

In 1962, in the Soviet Union, eight-year-old Katya is bequeathed what will become the love of her life: a Blüthner piano, built at the turn of the century in Germany, on which she discovers everything that she herself can do with music and what music, in turn, does for her. Yet after marrying, she emigrates with her young family from Russia to America, at her husband’s frantic insistence, and her piano is lost in the shuffle.

In 2012, in Bakersfield, California, 26-year-old Clara Lundy loses another boyfriend and again has to find a new apartment, which is complicated by the gift her father had given her for her 12th birthday, shortly before he and her mother died in a fire that burned their house down: a Blüthner upright she has never learned to play. Orphaned, she was raised by her aunt and uncle, who in his car-repair shop trained her to become a first-rate mechanic, much to the surprise of her subsequent customers. But this work, her true mainstay in a scattered life, is put on hold when her hand gets broken while the piano’s being moved – and in sudden frustration she chooses to sell it. And what becomes crucial is who the most interested party turns out to be…

When You Read This, by Mary Adkins

For four years, Iris Massey worked side by side with PR maven Smith Simonyi, helping clients perfect their brands. But Iris has died, taken by terminal illness at only thirty-three. Adrift without his friend and colleague, Smith is surprised to discover that in her last six months, Iris created a blog filled with sharp and often funny musings on the end of a life not quite fulfilled. She also made one final request: for Smith to get her posts published as a book. With the help of his charmingly eager, if overbearingly forthright, new intern Carl, Smith tackles the task of fulfilling Iris’s last wish.

Before he can do so, though, he must get the approval of Iris’ big sister Jade, an haute cuisine chef who’s been knocked sideways by her loss. Each carrying their own baggage, Smith and Jade end up on a collision course with their own unresolved pasts and with each other.

Told in a series of e-mails, blog posts, online therapy submissions, text messages, legal correspondence, home-rental bookings, and other snippets of our virtual lives, When You Read This is a deft, captivating romantic comedy—funny, tragic, surprising, and bittersweet—that candidly reveals how we find new beginnings after loss.

Mini Hobbies That Can Help You De-Stress

Hobbies can be anything you enjoy doing. Whether it’s staying in and watching TV, spending time switching between social media apps or taking naps. Sometimes these “hobbies” become routine and we need a break to do something a bit more fulfilling. Having hobbies can be useful so that when you’re ready to get back to work, you have a clear mind. Here are a few things you can try to do:

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Get Grounded!

When we’re stuck inside all day, whether for school or work, it can be harder to be productive. It’s so hard to unplug and get grounded, here are a few things you can try to ease yourself into the habit of unplugging:  

  • GARDENING
    • Nothing is more grounding than giving back to nature. If you don’t know anything about gardening, that’s OK! There are plenty of how-to books to help you get started. In case there isn’t a place for you to garden, you can invest in house plants. Bringing nature back into your house can liven it up and clean your air as well. There are plenty of different types of plants that will be convenient for your time and needs. Don’t have time to go to your local nursery? There are websites that will deliver the plants straight to your doorstep!
  • CAMPING/HIKING
    • Don’t have a green thumb? That’s ok too! Remember, hobbies are something that you like to do. If you’re more of the athletic type then give camping a go. There are usually trails around the campsites and you can hike around in the area. Adventures in nature are something that can clear your mind.
  • STARGAZING
    • Whether you’re out camping, in your backyard, or even on your balcony, the stars are always out to say hello! You don’t necessarily need a fancy telescope either, some stars and planets are visible to the naked eye. You can learn all about them through books, the internet, or even apps. My personal favorite is the SkyView. All you have to do is point your smart phone at any part of the sky, and the app will tell you what stars, planets, asteroids, satellites, etc. should be there! So even if you can’t see it without a telescope, at least you’ll know which cool constellation is hovering above you!
  • COLLECTING  
    • If you thought that collecting things was just a hobby for children, think again. It’s never too late to start collecting things. Choose an item or items that interest you (and fit in your space). This can be anything from rocks that you find when out on nature walks, gems, bottle caps or even aluminum cans (you can even get some cash if you take the cans to your local recycling area. Not only will you be helping Mother Earth, but you’ll also get some extra change in your pocket).

Create!

The outdoors aren’t for everyone and that’s ok. Some people have a more creative side that needs to be explored more. There are plenty of activities that can be done from the comfort of your home or your favorite coffee shop. Here are a few hobbies that are done using pens, markers, and stationery items:

  • WRITING/JOURNALING
    • There are times that our minds are overflowing with thoughts and ideas and it’s hard to organize them. Writing down your thoughts can help you de-stress. There are also online platforms like Wattpad and Webtoon that you can upload your content on for other readers. This can even lead to being discovered by scouts and can eventually lead to publication. Maybe you want something more personal, journaling can be the way to go. There are bullet journals you can buy or create yourself. Writing about anything can help sort out your thoughts on what might be causing more stress.
  • CALLIGRAPHY/DRAWING
    • Don’t want to write about your thoughts but you still want to use those cool pens you bought a while ago? Then try calligraphy! This type of art is a hot trending topic these days. There are plenty of books you can either buy or borrow from your local library. Perhaps you’re not sure where to start, then there are even kits sold in certain bookstores and online that come equipped with utensils that are needed and instructional books. Additionally, there are so many Instagrammers and YouTubers that specialize in this kind of content
      • Drawing can also be an outlet to help manage stress. The good thing about drawing is that you don’t have to be good at drawing. It’s art so it can be as good as you want it to be. There are also videos on online that can help you achieve the style you want.
  • SCRAPBOOKING
    • If you’re the sentimental type, then you can pick up scrapbooking. Not only can you use calligraphy but you can also put your new drawing skills into it. Scrapbooking can be a method to incorporate all types of art forms while keeping your memories alive. 
  • ORIGAMI
    • If you’re the type that wants to see the end product of what you’re working on, then origami can be the hobby for you. There are all types of intricate designs and sizes that you can make. There are plenty of books and videos on origami. Sometimes even thrift stores will have books on different trades and crafts that you can find at a fairly low price.
  • PHOTOGRAPHY
    • Photography is such a versatile hobby! You can do it from the comfort of your own home, or you can go outside and take pictures of anything else. So while you’re taking a walk outside, you can take advantage of the scenery and take amazing pictures. You don’t need a fancy camera to take the pictures either, most mobile devices nowadays have amazing camera qualities. You can even buy lenses for cell phones online at a very low cost.
  • DIY PROJECTS
    • Pinterest is a great place to look for DIY projects to do in your home either alone or with a group of friends. Who knows? maybe you’ll uncover a new hidden talent.
  • SEWING/CROCHETING/KNITTING
    • Sewing can be for everyone of all ages. It’s also a hobby that can save you money in the long run! Most local arts and craft stores have starter kits for all different types of sewing projects, whether it’s sewing something small or knitting a blanket.

Stimulate Your Mind!

Perhaps you need a bit more of a challenge mentally, then there are other outlets that might be more suited for you.

  • LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
    • There are different apps for your mobile device that allow you to learn a new language. Apps like Duolingo and Memrise are at a low cost or even free. Not only is a challenging thing to do but if you get fluent enough with the language then you can add it to your resume.
  • LEARN A NEW INSTRUMENT
    • Music is an outlet that helps a lot of people combat stress. What better way to feel one with music than to make the music yourself? Do some research on what would be best suited for you and look for videos online that can teach you. You can also visit your local library and explore the books that they have or just stop into a local music shop.
  • CHESS/STRATEGIC GAMES
    • Chess is a great way to sharpen your strategic and critical thinking skills. You can learn a lot about yourself too! When you’re stuck on a problem whether at work or school, taking on a different mental challenge can help you come back to the problem with a new solution.
  • INTROSPECTION
    • One of the most beneficial hobbies to have is one that helps your personal growth. Professional, academic, social growth, etc. all come back to personal growth. Get in touch with your sense of self. If you need a little guidance, you can research different personality tests and identifiers. Find out your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from 16Personalities. Or figure out your strengths and weaknesses through Stephen Covey’s Strengthsfinders 2.0. If you’re into astrology, there are so many different websites like CafeAstrology that will help you create your birth chart.

Get Active!

  • DANCING
    • Being active can be a very helpful way to help combat stress. There’s also no need to go out. It can be completely free by just turning on the radio and dancing in your room. Don’t want to do it alone, check your local community center and they might offer Zumba classes at a low cost.
  • COOKING
    • Cooking is another way that you can express yourself while destressing. There are many forms of cooking that you can choose from. Even if you don’t know how to cook, there are lots of books at the library you can check out and online.
  • VOLUNTEERING
    • Want to feel like you’re doing something for your community? Then check your local community centers to volunteer. There are plenty of options that you can do. Volunteering is a very fulfilling experience that you can learn from.