“She was the reason I was a reader, and being a reader was what had made me most myself; it had given me the gifts of curiosity and sympathy, an awareness of the world as an odd and vibrant contradictory place, and it had me unafraid of its oddness and vibrancy and contradictions.” -Curtis Sittenfeld
(Photo from adorable restaurant The Laundromat in Reykjavik...I swear, I'm going to talk about Scandinavia SOMEDAY.)
I read SO MUCH LAST MONTH and I loved it. A large factor in that is the amount of time we spent in transit...a cumulative five flights, and two six-to-eight hour train rides while in Norway...but I lucked out and picked out books that I genuinely loved for the trip. Perfect summer reading, if I may say so myself...
No Baggage, Clara Bensen: Ah, such a quick and fantastic read! Clara tells the story of spending a month in Europe with a guy she had recently met online dating...only caveat? They only brought the clothes they had on their bodies and what they could fit in a small purse/pockets. I couldn't do it, but reading her account was incredibly, delightfully eye-opening.
Me Before You, JoJo Moyes: Had to read it, as the movie trailer has been everywhere and Emily said it was incredible. And it is. A quadriplegic seeking assisted suicide meets a hired in-home caregiver determined to change his mind, and so much tragicomedy and romance and just plain humanity ensues.
After You, Jo Jo Moyes: No spoilers, but it follows character Lou, the caregiver from Me Before You, as she lives her life and seeks her own truth. I plowed through both of these on the flight to Iceland...so they're super fast, incredibly attention-grabbing reads.
Eligible, Curtis Sittenfeld: Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Pride and Prejudice spinoff, and this one was one of my favorites. Set in modern-day Cincinnati, Liz is a lawyer and Jane teaches yoga, and Bingley is a reality-TV show contestant and Darcy's a surgeon and the whole thing is riddled with Cincy references I totally got. It was absolutely decadent. I loved it.
Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll: This is one of those books that's continually heralded as "the next Gone Girl," and I agree. It's super, super dark and just the right amount of sexy, but the twists that started midway through and carried to the end kept me up until 2am in Norway...thank god for suns that never set. Only caveat...it's pretty dark and rife with rape, murder and suicidal ideation, so probably not something I'd recomment for a casual beach read.
America's First Daughter, Stephanie Dray and Lauren Kamoie: Totally on a Founding Fathers kick after falling madly in love with "Hamilton" this spring, and this satisfied my itch for more about the women behind the men. Martha Jefferson Randolph was Thomas Jefferson's oldest daughter and beloved companion for his entire life, and her story is as soapy as it is fascinating. While this account was highly fictionalized, it was still a fun peek back into the Revolutionary world.
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Chuck Klosterman: Maybe Klosterman's references just went over my head or something, or maybe the short-and-choppy, serialized style of writing didn't click with the mood I was in at the time, but I struggled to get through this mid-trip. Certain chapters really did resonate and made me wonder if I'd prefer some other writing of his, but by the end of the book I was really ready to move on to the next chapter in my library.
Everybody Rise, Stephanie Clifford: Wharton-esque social climbing and class stratification in New York City's oldest and best families, right before the financial crash. Reading this a second time stressed me out a bit just because of the terrible financial decisions and general bitchiness of every character...there's truly not a likeable person in the book...but it's very well-written and dark in just the right way.
Magic Flutes, Eva Ibbotson: I needed a little Eva in my life toward the end of the month and read this beloved favorite for probably the dozenth time in a couple hours. Opera, Vienna, star-crossed lovers, and a happy ending...exactly the pick-me-up I need and precisely why Ibbotson's novels are such familiar, time-worn favorites of mine.