With longer days, vacations and travel booked, and the sunny outdoors calling, up here in the Northern Hemisphere there are an increasing amount of opportunities for a good summer read. I cruised through my Goodreads list, and here are a few page-turners I have gone through lately.
“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline
Geeks, unite! This is an entertaining and nostalgic romp through 80’s pop culture as seen from a gamer in the future. Adventurous, mysterious, and a little teen romance because why the heck not?
“Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life” by Susan David
If you are looking for something a bit more self-helpy, this is a good find as it is both informative and entertaining. According to the book, emotional agility is being able to detach, acknowledge, and move through uncomfortable feelings without having them consume your life. After reading this book, I was very much more at peace with routine negative emotions I encountered (Awkward situations! Disagreements with family an friends!) and better able to work through them rather than ignore them or drown them in cupcakes and mindless Facebook scrolling.
“The Last Runaway” by Tracy Chevalier
This one is a good poolside or beach read. I’m a huge Tracy Chevalier fan; I love the language she uses and how she pieces together a historical story in a personable way that makes me understand and appreciate the character’s environment. This is a sweet, quick read of a young Quaker woman who immigrates to America in the mid 19th century with her sister, who is to be married. After her sister dies during the long voyage, the protagonist relies on the kindness of strangers and her new American Quaker community to make a new home in the new world, while becoming an advocate and support to the Underground Railroad. It’s a story of courage in unexpected circumstances, and how to follow your intuition despite outside pressures.
His Dark Materials trilogy (“The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife,” “The Amber Spyglass”) by Philip Pullman
I would say this series ranks up there with Harry Potter and the Narnia series if you’re looking for YA fantasy. I wish I had the opportunity to read this as a youngster, but I read it the first time a couple years ago and it absolutely haunted me, in a good way. It was one of those stories that I just absolutely curled up into and consumed. You know that feeling with a truly good book that speaks to you. The characters, the language, even the characters’ names and how the author used unfamiliar words as if in another language to convey you were in a world similar yet separate from your own. It’s a story of a prophesies, strange magical creatures, and parallel universes, and a young girl finding her destiny. Block out a good chunk of time for this one, because you won’t want to put it down.
“The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith” by Gabrielle Bernstein
I had no idea who Gabrielle Bernstein was when this book popped up on my Audible suggestions list last fall. Apparently she’s a big deal. But I was going through a tough time, and the title of the book seemed to tell me what I needed to hear. I mentioned back in last year’s New Years Resolution post that I was seeking a new method of spirituality, and this was the book that finally opened the door for me. Full disclosure: this book is a bit high on the “woo-scale” for me. It’s a collection of guiding principles to help you reengage and stay aligned with the power of God/the Universe/the loving and creative energy force/whatever you want to call your higher power and potential. Maybe it isn’t quite what you’re looking for, but if you’re on the lookout for something else to spark up in your personal spiritual realm, this might be helpful. Since then, I’ve read this book and listened to the audiobook maybe 20 times. It’s full of encouraging reminders to keep me centered and on my own personal track. I’ll be honest, some of the stories and examples she gives are a bit first-world-y, but so are most of my problems so there you go. I do think that you can apply the general concepts of choosing love over fear to many situations.
“Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food” by Melissa Hartwig
And I have to put a plug in for my girl-crush Melissa. The Whole30 program has helped me so much in my health and wellness journey, and this was the book that finally put the last of the pieces back together – it’s not as much as about the program as it is what you choose to do with it. It’s the answer to the question, “Ok, so I did a Whole30. Now what?” Hartwig walks you through the whole process, from deciding to do a dietary reset to executing the 30 day protocol you choose to how to reintroduce the eliminated foods to how to use your experience to build a custom way of eating that works with you, putting you in the driver’s seat for your own food choices. Spoiler alert: sometimes a cupcake is a perfectly good dietary decision, but only if it’s worth it, and only if you own that choice.
What are you reading poolside?
Go make it a great day!