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  • Writer's pictureNicole Stewart

Summer Reading

I think I've always been a seasonal reader. As the weather changes, I find myself drawn to specific types of books. I tend to go darker and more complex in the winter months. Faced with evenings and weekends spent inside, cuddled under a blanket on the couch, I'm more apt to dig into a meaty biography or memoir, explore a complicated topic like war, or accompany characters into a richly drawn story that isn't necessarily heading for a happy ending. An introvert to the core, I am perfectly content to spend day after day tucked cozily inside.

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, I am ready to dive into something a little lighter, a little frothier. I love a good poolside page-turner.

I also find that there are certain favorites I return to at specific times of year. I love to read Little Women at Christmas time. Even though it's a story that spans several years and visits all of the seasons, it is intrinsically linked to winter in my heart.

In the summer, I often return to Green Gables, following Anne and Diana across the green fields of Prince Edward Island, hurrying through the Haunted Forest and rowing across the Lake of Shining Waters. By the end of a long, Illinois winter, even I am bursting to get outside, to breathe in fresh air, see flowers and green grass, feel the sunshine warm my cheek. Anne's inextinguishable zeal for life, romance and grand adventures matches the energy and the relish I feel as a whole new summer stretches out before me.

Here are just a few of the books I'm looking forward to this summer (available now, unless otherwise noted):

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (publication date: June 26). There is a well-worn copy of Something Borrowed on my shelf, so I am definitely here for a new story from Giffin. All We Ever Wanted deals with the fallout after an illicit photograph taken at a party spreads like wildfire through a prestigious Nashville high school; but, if it's like Giffin's other works, it's likely to be more about the people, their relationships, the choices they make, and what those choices say about who they are. I think what Giffin does so well is write entertaining, super readable stories with hidden depths. This definitely hits my summer sweet spot!

Force of Nature by Jane Harper. I just read The Dry this year and it definitely whet my appetite for the next book featuring Australian federal agent Aaron Falk. I have to be in a certain mood for a good, twisty mystery and the writing really has to be excellent to draw me in. A summer state of mind and Jane Harper check both those boxes for me. Harper expertly navigates what is often tricky territory, especially in suspense novels: she introduces a host of well-drawn characters into a richly constructed world full of details that all matter. There's a lot to take in, but I never feel like any of it is a waste of time and the payoff is so satisfying. So far, the buzz is that Force of Nature is just as good as The Dry... or, even better.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. Confession: I am the biggest wimp when it comes to anything remotely resembling horror! But, boy am I a sucker for a re-imagined fairy tale, or a modern story full of fairy tale elements. In the Hazel Wood, two teens travel into the Hinterland, a fictional, supernatural world created by the main character's grandmother - a reclusive author whose books have become cult classics cultivating a population of totally obsessed super fans. Interspersed throughout the plot are the actual Hinterland tales, which I suspect will push my limits on creepy, but this feels too much like a deliciously spooky campfire tale to resist.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (publication date: June 12). I love a quirky, unreliable narrator and this one is drawing comparisons to the likes of Banana Yoshimoto and Amelie. The book, at just 176 pages, promises to be a quick and funny read about a Japanese woman who just can't quite figure out what society wants from her. I could go on, but honestly, they had me at Amelie.

What kinds of books do you most enjoy reading in the summer time? Is there a particular book on the top of your summer reading list this year?

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