I'm a self-proclaimed bookworm. I was reading chapter books in kindergarden. I want to gobble them up as fast as possible. Unfortunately, as I struggle to find empty space in my Erin Condren planner, I have found it easy to slack off in the recreational reading department.
Though it doesn't seem like it with another recent snow storm, summer is upon us. For some of you I hope that means the sun, the beach, the water and a good book. For those of us that will be interning this summer, that means heading to your favorite park –Central or Washington Square for me!– or roof top pool in the city with a book.
Books can give you an escape, serve as a way to relieve stress. You go to the gym and eat right to strengthen your body, now it's time to pick up a book to strengthen your mind. Reading has many positive short and long term effects on your brain. Reading demands your concentration and makes you use your imagination. It enhances your memory skills and learning capacity.
Whether it is fiction, nonfiction, self-help, young adult, sci-fi, or a psychological thriller pick up a book this summer. Hell, pick up two! We're not in middle school where we have to read those almost-always-awful books our teachers made us read. We get to go to a bookstore and choose from thousands of titles and dozens of genres. If you have a tablet, download a few books on there! Although, personally, there's nothing like the smell of a bookstore and freshly printed pages. One reason I like having my nose in a book so much is because of the scent of it.
To aid you in your book hunt, I will provide you with a little summer reading list. Both with my favorite books that I have already read, and with the books that are on my own "must read" list.
Some of my favorites:
If you want to laugh:
- Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang by Chelsea Handler. This book is hilarious and will literally make you laugh out loud. The last time I was at the beach was 4 or 5 years ago and this is the book I read. I was laughing so frequently and so loudly that passerby's gave me too many stank eyes to count. But whatever. Her stories of her Cabbage Patch Doll and desires to own a pet dolphin just may be exactly what you need to relax on your vacation. Also try Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea Handler and those she has told lies to. Again, laugh out loud funny. I loved it.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. Okay. We all know I'm a huge groupie for this book and the series in general. I will never not recommend this book to you. It's smart, it's traumatizing (in the best way), it's suspenseful, it has a strong female lead and it leaves you wanting more. BUT GOOD NEWS: there is more! Two more in fact. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. All three from the Millennium Trilogy are flawless. The second two are better, in my opinion. The first is a little slow and takes a bit to get into the plot. I suggest watching the movie, if only for Rooney Mara's brilliance, then nestling up with the other two. Do not, I repeat, do not finish the second one without already having the third one on hand. You will be so angry with yourself because you will want to immediately jump into it. The trilogy follows Lisbeth Salander as she becomes the assistant to an investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist as they search for a killer of women. It then goes on to a murder scene, Lisbeth's fingerprints are on the murder weapon and Mikel has to prove she's innocent even though he hasn't spoken to her since before the murder. Sex trafficking is a prominent theme in the books and Lisbeth has to stay on the run from authorities while trying to kill her father before he kills her. Okay, that wasn't the greatest synopsis, but I couldn't give much away and IT'S SO GOOD!
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This story is insane. Like I actually think the author might have mental issues because she created and wrote such a detailed, disturbing plot. The story follows Amy and Nick Dunne , who seem to be a perfect couple. Amy goes missing and her husband is the prime suspect due to strong evidence and sketchy entries in Amy's diary. The twist is beyond crazy and you'll never guess what happens or how it ends. David Fincher, same director as Dragon Tattoo, is directing the film adaptation of the novel and it is set to release later this year and is already generating Oscar buzz. (and you know how much mama likes Oscar buzz) Get ahead of the crowd and read it now!
- The Giver by Lois Lowry. I read this book for the first time in 4th grade and since then I've read it multiple times. It's one of my favorite books and is enjoyable and thought provoking all at one time. It's targeted towards a younger audience, so it's easy to zip through, but the content is interesting for all ages. The story is a futuristic dystopian society. Everything is black and white. No one has feelings and they are required to take injections every morning to make sure they never get them. In this community, there is no suffering, hunger, war, no color, sex, music, or love. Everything is controlled by "the Elders." From who you will marry, who you receive as children, and what you will be "assigned" as a job. The story follows Jonas, who is almost twelve. It is almost time for him to get assigned a profession. The Chief Elder finishes the ceremony and explains that Jonas has been "selected" to be The Receiver of Memory. He is lead to The Giver where he learns about the past and how much joy and excitement and color used to exist in the world. As he learns about the joy that used to exist and the horrifying facts about the government that rules him now, he and The Giver devise a devious little plan... This is also being made into the movie with Meryl Streep and, whomp whomp, Taylor Swift.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. The story follows a high school freshman, Charlie, as he learns how to fit in at school after being a very big introvert. He "is happy and sad at the same time and wonders how that can be" and is writing letters daily to a person he nor the reader knows. I didn't read this book until I was 19 and I learned so much from it and got so much out of it. It teaches you about yourself, others, and how to feel (or how to feel about feeling?) about each. If you're 9, 19, or 49 you can find more than one thing to take away from this very short book. If you choose this one, I suggest bringing another book to read after you finish it in a few hours, or a notebook to reflect on your thoughts upon finishing it.
- The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. One of my favorite books. I've even given the kid's version Stein made to my cousin. This book is told from the point of view of a dog, a golden retriever named Enzo. Enzo seems nearly human, and that is his goal: to live life as a loyal dog so that in his next life he's reincarnated into a man. He learns from constant TV watching and from listening intently to his up-and-coming race car driver owner, Denny. Enzo is there for it all: marriage, birth, success and terminal illnesses. It's a heart wrenching novel of love and struggles from an unexpected POV. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll read it again when you finish.
- Unsaid by Neil Abramson. This story shows the large role animals play in our lives. The book is told from the point of view of Helena, a deceased veterinarian. She cannot 'move on' and is stuck in limbo because she doesn't want to confront the mistakes she thinks she's made in her life: thousands of euthanized animals and her idea that her life was insignificant. She haunts and is haunted by the life she left behind. Her attorney husband is in depression, her houseful of animals, and a chimpanzee who may be able to solve the mystery of animal consciousness. She finds answers when her husband takes on a case to save the chimp's life and uses Helena's work. Together they must prove what it means to be "human." I read the first 50ish pages of this story at the Union Square Barnes & Noble while two little boys reading comic books watched me cry.
- The Pact by Jodi Picoult. Almost every Picoult novel will make you cry, but this is one of my favorites. A seemingly perfect high school love story about Emily + Chris, The Pact gets interesting after a late night call from the hospital saying Emily is dead from a gunshot to the head while Chris says the bullet was meant for himself. Follow Chris in the courtroom as he is on trial for murder and learn what really happened that night at the carousel...
- Thrive by Arianna Huffington. She talks about ways to better yourself and how to do so easily and effectively. She suggests starting small, sleep an extra 30 minutes, for example. She says sleeping is the most underrated thing we can do and suggests we can not succeed without more of it. "Sleep your way to the top," she says. LOL GET IT? Genius. I love her idea about "time famine" and how we are always needing more time. She suggests to be present and live each moment. Yes, it's cliche, but she has many studies to back up her words and it's worth the read. It's something we can all relate to and we can all work on ways to improve these aspects of our lives.
If you want to learn a little:
- How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. I knew I needed this book a few years ago when I couldn't decide if I wanted to read it. Lehrer gives biological explanations about how and why we make decisions while offering tips on making better decisions. Examples of quarterbacks to poker players to serial killers provide insight to the discoveries of neuroscience and how it relates to our decision making process.
- Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer + Stephen Jay Gould. I am a huge believer in otherworldly phenomena and am one of the most superstitious people you will meet. Shermer + Gould debunk these claims and explain why we believe in such things, and more importantly why "smart" people believe in such things. Super interesting and thought provoking for me. I am still a believer, but I enjoyed hearing and learning the other, logical-ish, side.
More books I recommend:
- The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
- Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
- A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
- The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (not for the faint hearted)
- The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
My own list of "to read":
- Serena by Ron Rash
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
- Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
- Before I Go To Sleep by SJ Watson
- Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
- The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith
I hope you will take this list into consideration or go to your nearest bookstore and find your own book to read this summer. If you have a book you think I should read, please let me know. I'm open to read almost anything and everything and would love suggestions on new books.