Picture yourself sitting on the most comfortable lounge chair; the sun rays caressing your skin as you sit back and bask in the sounds of nature or the gentle waves from the nearby lake.
You take a sip of cold, refreshing lemonade and lethargically lean back with a deep exhale.
It’s perfection. Well, almost. There’s only one thing missing…
the perfect summer read.

Over the past few months this year, I’ve buried myself and wallowed in a cornucopia of new reads to hit the shelves and some older favourites in hopes I can share my recommendations with family, friends and of course, with all of you.

DSC_3355Whether it’s a gripping thriller, a heart-warming tale or a little motivational soul-food, I’ve got the perfect suggestions for those summer days at the beach or at the cottage.

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1) Hausfrau: A Novel by Jill Alexander Essbaum – a CAC Read of the Month Pick

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“This marvelously quiet book is psychologically complex and deeply intimate—as sexy as it is sad. . . . Essbaum has written one of the smartest novels in recent memory.”—The Dallas Morning News

Intimate, intense, and written with the precision of a Swiss Army knife, Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel is an unforgettable story of marriage, fidelity, sex, morality, and most especially self. Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz is an electrifying heroine whose passions and choices readers will debate with recognition and fury. Her story reveals, with honesty and great beauty, how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.

2) Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Set in 1960’s London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby’s latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.

3) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Three women, three men, connected through marriage or infidelity. Each is to blame for something. But only one is a killer in this nail-biting, stealthy psychological thriller about human frailty and obsession.

Just what goes on in the houses you pass by every day?
A sinister and twisting story that will keep you guessing at every turn,The Girl on the Train is a high-speed chase for the truth.

4) The Happiness Project (2010)and Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin

The Happiness Project was my introduction to Gretchen Rubin’s fantastic work and really encouraged me to seize a more content and jubilant life.  A true feel-good read!

The Happiness Project is the engaging, relatable and inspiring result of the author’s twelve-month adventure in becoming a happier person. Written with a wicked sense of humour and sharp insight, Gretchen Rubin’s story will inspire readers to embrace the pleasure in their lives and remind them how to have fun.

Better Than Before is Gretchen’s latest novel tackling the question: How do we make good habits that are easy, effortless, and automatic?
Habits are the invisible architecture of our lives. Rubin provides an analytical and scientific framework from which to understand these habits–as well as change them for good. Infused with her compelling voice and funny stories, she illustrates the core principles of habit formation with dozens of strategies that she tests out on herself and others.

5) West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan

A “rich, sometimes heartbreaking” (Dennis Lehane) novel of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last years in Hollywood.
Fitzgerald’s orbit of literary fame and the Golden Age of Hollywood is brought vividly to life through the novel’s romantic cast of characters, from Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway to Humphrey Bogart. A sympathetic and deeply personal portrait of a flawed man who never gave up in the end, even as his every wish and hope seemed thwarted, West of Sunset confirms O’Nan as “possibly our best working novelist” (Salon).

6) How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, And Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret

If you have a love for all things Paris, or if like me, strongly believe you were meant to be Parisian, then vous allez adorer ce livre!

From four stunning and accomplished French women — at last — a fresh and spirited take on what it really means to be a Parisienne: how they dress, entertain, have fun and attempt to behave themselves.

You will be taken on a first date, to a party, to some favorite haunts in Paris, to the countryside, and to one of their dinners at home with recipes even you could do — but to be out with them is to be in for some mischief and surprises. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, look natural, make your boyfriend jealous, and how they feel about children, weddings and going to the gym. And they will share their address book in Paris for where to go: At the End of the Night, for A Birthday, for a Smart Date, A Hangover, for Vintage Finds and much more.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are will make you laugh as you slip into their shoes to become bold and free and tap into your inner cool.

7) Ru by Kim Thuy

A runaway bestseller in Quebec, with foreign rights sold to 15 countries around the world, Kim Thúy’s Governor General’s Literary Award-winning Ru is a lullaby for Vietnam and a love letter to a new homeland.

Ru. In Vietnamese it means lullaby; in French it is a small stream, but also signifies a flow – of tears, blood, money. Kim Thúy’s Ru is literature at its most crystalline: the flow of a life on the tides of unrest and on to more peaceful waters. In vignettes of exquisite clarity, sharp observation and sly wit, we are carried along on an unforgettable journey from a palatial residence in Saigon to a crowded and muddy Malaysian refugee camp, and onward to a new life in Quebec. There, the young girl feels the embrace of a new community, and revels in the chance to be part of the American Dream. As an adult, the waters become rough again: now a mother of two sons, she must learn to shape her love around the younger boy’s autism. Moving seamlessly from past to present, from history to memory and back again, Ru is a book that celebrates life in all its wonder: its moments of beauty and sensuality, brutality and sorrow, comfort and comedy.

8) Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy

“It teems with family feuds, forbidden love, second sight and wronged innocents, all held together by Roy’s taut style and gift for suspense.” –Tampa Bay Times

In the spellbinding and suspenseful Let Me Die in His Footsteps, Edgar Award–winner Lori Roy wrests from a Southern town the secrets of two families touched by an evil that has passed between generations.

9) Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

We sometimes need to be reminded that a little hope is a seed that can grow in unexpected, powerful ways, that shared stories are what make us human, and that it’s never too late to start a new chapter – a new adventure – no matter where we are in our lives. Our Souls at Night is the last novel from the late Kent Haruf – a beautiful, aching reminder of these essential truths, and a poignant end to a literary life spent exploring private heartaches and small tragedies in the fictional town of Holt Colorado. – Heather Reisman

10) All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize Winner is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel book from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

12 comments on “2015 Summer Reads: CAC’s Top Picks”

  1. Thanks for the picks. I’m such a huge book reader, I have a pile of books that I’m slowly working my way through right now.

  2. I haven’t read any of these. I haven’t read much of anything this summer yet actually. *sad face*. But How To Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, And Bad Habits, looks like a fun read.

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