Summer Reads of Many Genres

By Friday, June 26, 2015 ,

Greetings and happy weekend, one and all! In the previous post, I offered some tips on how to make time for good reading, so it's only fitting that I now offer you suggestions. Summer is a popular time for making progress in that direction, so here are my recommendations. I've offered options from diverse categories for your convenience. If you've got any to add, hit me up! 

1. The Jane Austen-esque Read: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
 Because you all know I have to include one of these, right? But honestly, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen wrote far too few novels. Once you finish the six she did write, all that’s left is to reread, dissect, discuss, and be enthralled a million times over. Of course that’s all very well and good, but Wives and Daughters is a great option if you want something fresh of Austen’s genre. It has all the necessary ingredients of a charming Victorian era novel: plucky heroine (seriously, Molly Gibson is a new fave), annoying mother figure, money troubles, gossipy village-folk, rich and handsome brothers in the neighboring house, and secrets galore.

2. The Thriller/Mystery Read: Blink by Ted Dekker
If you like mysteries, Ted Dekker is your guy. He is a master of thriller fiction, and I think I read this one in maybe two or three days. It’s one of his older works, published in the early 2000s, I believe. A newer edition now titled Blink of an Eye is now out, but stick with the original if you can. Seth Borders, a brilliant graduate student at Berkeley, unexpectedly crosses paths with a Saudi Arabian princess named Miriam, who has fled to the United States to escape an arranged marriage. They team up and become victims of quite the man-hunt, staying ahead of the Saudi Arabian police largely because of Seth’s unexplainable gift of seeing into the future. Many potential futures, in fact. While on a smaller scale than many of Ted Dekker’s works, this one is truly a page-turner and the characters are wonderful.


3. The Lighthearted Beach Read: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck is the one that will give your brain a break, but is still a good story with a fascinating plot concept. Four women across different places in history. A mysterious, perfectly preserved wedding dress that crosses each of their paths. Set in Birmingham, Alabama, the story centers on the woman in the present day, Charlotte, who helps brides find their dream dresses every day but is questioning her own life choices. As she searches for clues about the wedding dress’ history, we get to know the other women who wore it in the past. It’s light, sweet, and all-around relaxing.

4. The Sad-but-Redemptive Read: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
For me, this was one of those books that was assigned college class reading, but conveniently became enjoyable as well. Khaled Hosseini is a talented storyteller, and as he’s from Afghanistan, all his books are set there and during the rise of the Taliban. So, needless to say, he isn’t afraid to tackle difficult, gritty subjects. The Kite Runner is his most well-known work, and it centers on an unlikely friendship between Amir and Hassan – Amir’s family is rich, and Hassan’s father is servant to Amir’s father. Loyalty, betrayal, loss, guilt, and uncertainty ensue as Afghanistan crumbles. While many of the book’s themes are hard to stomach, there are notes of redemption running through it and they crescendo beautifully at the story’s conclusion.

5. The Fantasy Read: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
If your only exposure to this story is the movie starring Anne Hathaway, please accept my deep sorrow for you. Only half-kidding. But really, please find the book as soon as possible to correct your idea of the story because it’s better in every way. This is a case in which the movie producers deviated and added far too much. Author Gail Carson Levine said that she wrote this adaptation of Cinderella because it bothered her that Cinderella was so good to such a cruel stepmother and stepsisters. A curse of obedience is the reason behind it in this intriguing twist on the classic. Set in the fantastical land of Frell, Ella is put under a spell at birth that she would always be obedient. The dear fairy Lucinda had meant to give a gift in it, but the ramifications are less than pleasant. Dame Olga and her daughters, Hattie and Olive, who become Ella’s stepmother and stepsisters, soon realize that for some mysterious reason, Ella obeys direct commands, and they have no qualms about taking advantage of it. In her quest to elude and ultimately to lift the curse, Ella befriends Prince Charmont of Kyrria and encounters enough giants and magic for anyone to be enthralled. It’s heartwarming and magical for all who love a fairytale.

6. The Fun Children’s Read: Abby and the South Seas Adventure Series by Pamela Walls
I devoured these in middle school, and I probably could again. They’re for a younger audience, but there are enough secrets and mysteries for a keen adult reader too. The series centers on Abby Kendall, her family, and her best friend Luke. From California to Hawaii to Tahiti and more, they cross pirates, sharks, hidden treasure, royal intrigues, family secrets, and mysterious town fires. Buckle up for lots of adventure because these books have it in plenty, all against the backdrop of 1840s America and South Asia. The history lessons are plentiful and the author’s imagination is impressive. And when I checked last night, they were about eight cents together on Amazon at the moment, so you really have no reason not to try them. If that’s a bit much, invest one cent in the first one to see if they’re worth it and then come back for the rest.

7. The Inspirational Fiction Read: Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
This is one of my favorite inspirational fiction books I’ve read in the last few years. The story brings together Ben Fielding from California and Li Quan from China, long-lost college roommates who are reunited when Ben takes a trip to China for business purposes. Ben is an executive whose sole focus is growing his company and making millions. He determines that Chinese manufacturing labor is just the thing they need, so he takes a trip and renews contact with Li while there. Ben then sees the harsh realities of persecution of Christians in China, and it forces him to question whether he still has faith in God and to wrestle with deeply held doubts. Li’s steadfast faith despite death and jail threats is entirely foreign to Ben, and the story poignantly reminds readers that a life of faith is not meant to be easy, but the rewards beyond are great.

There you have it! Let me know what you think if you pick up any of these. Another post (or two?) coming soon on newer recommendations!

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