In our household, summer is a time not only for relaxing, but for enjoying the books that alluded us during the school year; for reading something because we want to, not necessarily because it’s required. Sadly, with all of the minutiae involved with navigating the school days, we don’t always get to absorb and fully savor these stories as often as we’d like.
Fortunately, here comes summer with every intention of whisking us away on the literary vacations we so desperately need. ’Tis the season for reading, my friends, and here are a few of my favorite titles to help curate an enticing stack of books:
For the family:
"The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street" by Katrina Yan Glaser.
My family was a little late in our discovery of this gem but this is my favorite literary family of the year. I am on a mission to make sure everyone meets this warmhearted, delightful bunch whose Harlem brownstone is full of unique personalities, chaos, creativity, and love. The story follows the Vanderbeeker children who have set out to change the mind of their inexplicably grouchy and reclusive landlord when he decides not to renew their lease and they must move — in 11 days.
Bonus: The biracial Vanderbeekers will capture your heart but the adventures don’t end here. The story continues in "The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden," coming out this September.
For anyone who loves a good rock ’n’ roll love story:
"Daisy Jones and the Six" by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
Easily consumed pool-side, this guilty pleasure has it all — a ’70s rock band and all of the sex, drugs, music, love, and pain that come with it. Brilliantly written in an oral history, documentary-style format, the raw, compelling storylines of the band’s rapid ascent to fame and subsequent downfall makes for a captivating read full of characters you won’t quickly forget.
For YA lovers of all ages:
"With the Fire on High" by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Barely two days. That’s how long it took me to blow through this stunning novel from National Book Award winner Elizabeth Acevedo. Afro-Puerto Rican Emoni Santiao is a high school senior and teenage mom fighting to balance school, work, and motherhood in Philadelphia with her grandmother by her side. Taking refuge in the kitchen, where her “magical hands” enable her to explore her passion by creating mouth-watering, soul-searing dishes, Emoni goes on an internal (and international) journey of pursuing her dream while creating a future for herself and her daughter in spite of the obstacles life throws in her way.
Bonus: Recipes included.
Regardless of the books you choose to read this summer, the ultimate goal is to find something you enjoy. Experience a culture or a place you are unfamiliar with, and make new friends with the people you meet on the page. Feel inspired to try a recipe you’ve never heard of or rethink an issue from a different perspective. Broaden your horizons by engaging in a Summer Reading Challenge through our public library, your school, and through Bookmarks. Try genres, formats, or topics that you’ve never before considered and read with others.
Just remember, taking a vacation and enjoying the summer really is as simple as opening a book.