What We Read This Summer

summer reads
Summer is over, but here are a few of the books we loved, from horseback riding summer camps to time-traveling murderers.

Summer is gone, and so too are the days of lounging around in the garden with a vitamin water (beer) and endless punnets of fresh fruit (so much ice cream).

But when we weren’t fast asleep with our faces stuck to the centrefold of a trashy magazine, here are a few of the summer reads that kept us turning pages for so long we ended up with all sorts of embarrassing sunburn.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox: reclusive former architect, misanthropist, queen of sarcasm, missing person – and Bee’s mother. Fifteen-year-old Bee reconstructs her mum’s disappearance in Semple’s laugh-out-loud story of a quirky modern family, told in a cleverly updated epistolary form through e-mails, memos, police reports, video transcripts and blogs. [RF]

The Yonalossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani

Set in 1930, the novel opens with fifteen-year-old Thea Atwell arriving at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls in the mountains of North Carolina. Negotiating the complicated relationships within the camp is made slightly easier when she is befriended by the extremely rich and popular Sissy, and helped further by her skills and daring on horseback. With emotion, a boarding school vibe, a mystery and horses, this is a grown-up version of my favourite childhood books. [SC]

Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood by Alida Nugent

Following on front her brilliant blog, The Frenemy, Alida Nugent’s Don’t Worry It Gets Worse is a down-to-earth, honest guide to navigating one’s twenties. It lacks some of the fresh irreverence of her blog, and Nugent is still finding her voice, but I guarantee you’ll recognise yourself in at least one of her essays. [AS]

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Harper Curtis is homeless, crazed and desperate when serendipitously he comes across a house in Chicago during the Depression era. The house is a portal from which he can travel through time, and so begins his journey of killing, satisfying a growing obsession with a predetermined list of young women, the ones who ‘shine.’

The Shining Girls gets the reader to root for a strong female lead character, Kirby Mazrachi, while indulging in crime fiction, and a bit of sci-fi to boot. Beukes works though familiar plot lines with a fresh perspective, creating a good pace of frustration and desperation for each character as they hunt for each other; one looking for justice, one looking to kill. [RT]

For more summer reading recommendations, check out our rave reviews of Lisa O’Donnell’s Closed Doors or Jennifer Close’s Things We Need. What was your top read of the summer? Tell us in the comments!

(Image via JennWrenn)