After I graduated college, I decided that in the absence of long school reading assignments it was time to bring back the person I have been for 19 of my 23 years: a voracious reader. I grew up spending hours and hours of free time curled up with book on the couch, at my brother’s baseball games, in the bath, huddled next to the campfire… you get the idea. I was able to keep it up all through high school, and then suddenly between the demands of college coursework and the wildly exciting social scene that comes with living in a dorm, I stopped being able to finish a free time book every day, week, or even month. But no more! And here are nine of the best books I read this spring, in case (like me) you’re looking forward to spending this summer poolside with a cool drink and book in hand.
Every Kind of Wanting (Gina Frangello)- I’ll admit it: I judged this book by its gorgeous cover, and I was not disappointed. If you enjoy reading stories from multiple viewpoints that are all connected in some way or another, you too will want to read Every Kind of Wanting.
Swing Time (Zadie Smith)- I love the way Annalisa Quinn put it in a book review on NPR: “Some writers name, organize, and contain; Smith lets contradictions bloom, in all their frightening, uneasy splendor.” There’s a reason this book has gotten so much acclaim, and its mainly female cast and seemingly reliable narrator were two reasons that I loved it.
Fates and Furies (Lauren Groff)- Reading this novel felt like I was watching a play or a film; I felt very disconnected from the characters in a way that made me want to study them, examine them, burrow further into their heads than even the access Groff allows us. Also, in a slightly more complex fashion than the Forty Days of Dating project (also 100% worth reading), the reader sees how the two people in one relationship can have drastically different impressions of what is going on.
Better Than Before (Gretchen Rubin)- I know Gretchen Rubin primarily from The Happiness Project, and I was excited to see what else she had to teach me about how to be my happiest. This book is full of the tips and tricks to habit formation, and I especially liked her personal examples of habits she consciously gained while researching for this book.
Ready Player One (Ernest Cline)- A nod to 80s culture and especially video game culture, even those not alive during that era can appreciate this adventurous tale that bounces between the real world and virtual reality.
Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)- This book reads with the excitement of a fictional story but becomes even more thrilling and terrifying when you realize that these are real accounts of the cases Stevenson has faced as a lawyer in the South representing death row prisoners. I was already on board with the idea that our criminal justice system needs reform but Just Mercy made it clear that the consequences of the current system, such as death for the wrongfully accused, demand attention now.
Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)- I finished this book late one night and spent the whole time giggling to myself in bed. Brosh’s mash up of writing and graphic novel drawings are so fun to read and very relatable, and her character’s love for dogs was something I enjoyed immensely.
Lily and the Octopus (Steven Rowley)- Also featuring a dog and her owner, this novel is much, much sadder than the previous book (definitely solidly in the “sad dog book genre” like so many other great canine-focused reads). It is also sweet, imaginative, and totally worth the tears.
Sweetbitter (Stephanie Danler)- I am halfway through Sweetbitter and completely hooked. It’s a coming of age story set in New York, and main character Tess brings us into the rich world of food, wine, and people through her experiences working at a fancy restaurant. It’s also speckled with passages written as poetry and doesn’t commit entirely to a moment by moment chronology, which intrigued me.
What have you all been reading recently? Any recommendations? I’d love to know!