July Obsessions: Summer 2020 Books

Happy July, Everyone!

If you’re like me, you probably use summer as a time to get a lot of reading done. whether you’re spending an afternoon outside having a picnic or snuggled up during a thunderstorm, a good book is the perfect seasonal companion. There’s something so centering about getting lost in a novel – whether it takes you to a new world or gives you insight into someone else’s life. And I’ve especially loved using books to transport me during social distancing, so I can have my own mini mental escape even if I can’t personally travel to London, Mexico, or Singapore!

I’ve included both fiction and nonfiction sections to suit everyone’s tastes! I’ve featured every topic from sweet romance novels to fascinating memoirs to suspenseful mysteries. As I was typing out this list, I was actually pleased to find that all of the authors on this list were either women or people of color. I also wanted to include an antiracism section for anyone looking for to educate themselves on being a better ally and the deeply rooted history of racial injustice.

Without further ado, here are my top picks for what I’ve already read so far this summer or am excited about diving into:

Fiction:

  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – I was hooked on the concept of this suspense-filled high society mystery as soon as I heard about it earlier this year. A young woman in the 1950s receives an ominous letter from her cousin begging for someone to save her from impending doom. The story reminds me vaguely of Rebecca, which I loved in high school, so I’m very excited for this chilling novel.
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown (and the sequel, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, just dropped last month) by Talia Hibbert – a fun summer romance that’s both sweet and sexy, I loved getting lost in the lives and relationships of these characters. They’re dealing with real issues and have great banter, so it’s not an idealized love story by any means. I can’t wait to read the sequel, too – and it’s written by a Black female author!
  • Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan – I adored the Crazy Rich Asians series, so I was extremely excited to find out that Kwan released a new novel this summer! It also features the romance, wealth, and culture clashes that are prominent in CRA, and I’m looking forward to laughing out loud at his masterful dialogue and witty commentary. Kwan apparently also pays homage to A Room with a View in this novel, so I’m intrigued on his take!
  • Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner – If you’re looking for a classic summer read filled with drama, romance, and intrigue, this is right up your alley! The novel’s protagonist is shocked to be Bridesmaid to her former best friend after a fight six years ago, and the tangled dynamics of the relationship just go deeper and deeper. I’m very interested to see this take on the complexities of female friends as we grow older and come into our own.
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – This NYTimes bestseller was all the rage last year, so I’m excited to finally read it! It focuses on the story of a fictional rock band in the 1970s and their charismatic lead singer.
  • When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger – this sequel to The Devil Wears Prada follows protagonist Emily Charlton to the suburbs of Greenwich, Connecticut. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read a book centered in my hometown! I’m very excited to see the drama and style mixed with iconic Greenwich landmarks!
  • The New Hercule Poirot Mystery: The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah (inspired by Agatha Christie) – out August 2020 – I’ve always loved a good murder mystery and you can’t get more iconic than Agatha Christie. I loved Sophie Hannah’s story and her writing style keeps true to the Poirot I adore, so I’m very excited to see where this next mystery takes one of my favorite detectives.

Nonfiction:

  • Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent – I was recommended this book by one of my favorite bookshops in Vermont and just read it last weekend – what a TREAT! It’s the true tale of an unlikely friendship between a female reporter going through a divorce and the recently widowed father of one of her friends. He’s an excellent chef and imparts his wisdom both in the kitchen and about life over the course of their weekly dinners together. I was salivating over the dinner descriptions and loved how their friendship grew and saved both of them during dark moments in their lives.
  • You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing and Why it Matters by Kate Murphy – I loved learning more about the art of listening – truly listening – and what it means. From tips on how to train yourself to the mechanics of how our brains and ears listen to anecdotes of the author’s experiences and conversations with some of the top listeners in the world, this book was a pleasure to read. It was the perfect mix of informative, surprising, and funny – a great pick for fans of Malcolm Gladwell’s work.
  • No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier – This book takes you back to Instagram’s origins and shows exactly how it’s founders went about creating something so streamlined and simple that ended up taking over social media. It’s a fascinating look at the people inside Silicon Valley without being too technical. I highly recommend this as a great read, particularly for my fellow influencers, PR folks, and creative individuals who use the app daily.
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle – Doyle gives us insight into her world of divorce, coming out, and finding love with her current wife. This has been on the bestseller list all year, so I’m excited to read more about her life!
  • Open Book by Jessica Simpson – A candid memoir from this child star, she gives touching insights into her dealings with abuse, celebrity pressures, and body image issues. I’ve only heard rave reviews and am very excited to learn more about this icon.

Anti-Racism:

  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge – This book focuses on the types of conversations we have about race and why it’s so frustrating to see white people leading them. Surrounded by historical context interweaving whitewashed feminism, class dynamics, and more, this book provides a new framework for talking about race.
  • Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Davis – This book could not be a more timely read! It’s a collection of essays, interviews, and speeches from world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis. She illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi – Another must-read in, especially for beginners or individuals wanting a deeper grasp on how to be an antiracist ally. Kendi goes through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from simple to visionary —that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.
  • White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo – although this book is written by a white woman, it is a great starting point for white friends and family members who struggle with their perceptions of privilege and whiteness. It’s also a good way for fellow white people to address their own internal biases and understand others.

I hope this list gives you lots of inspiration for fun, heartwarming, and educational summer reads all season long! Please let me know if you have any favorite books I should check out as well!

XOXO

Parisa

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