Whether you’re turning pages by a sparkling ocean in the tropics or in your childhood bedroom in the Midwest, there’s bound to be a book out there that speaks to you this season. Here’s a list of summer reads, ranging from light-hearted romances to piercing memoirs, that are almost impossible to put down. Head to your local bookstore and add them to your list:
“Crying in H-Mart” by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner, better known as the indie-pop artist Japanese Breakfast, delivers a touching and powerful story about her relationship with her late mother in “Crying in H-Mart.” In addition to exploring her complex bond with her mother, who passed away from cancer when she was 25, the author delves into her connection to her heritage as a biracial Korean-American. Zauner connects to both her mother and her culture through the medium of food — her detailed, mouthwatering descriptions of savory jjajangmyeon noodles, crunchy Korean fried chicken and comforting juk porridge intertwine beautifully with her navigation of grief. The memoir reveals the power of food to evoke nostalgia, connect us to our past and honor the memories of those we’ve lost.
“People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry
“People We Meet on Vacation” is a must-read for fans of the friends-to-lovers trope. The novel follows college best friends Alex and Poppy, who, despite their polar opposite personalities, embark on an annual summer trip together. The pair have a relationship that’s impossible not to get invested in, especially once buried romantic feelings begin to come to the surface. It’s a quintessential beach read: sweet, feel-good and full of witty dialogue and chemistry.
“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong
Written in the form of a letter to his mother, who cannot read, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is a powerful account of Ocean Vuong’s journey as a Vietnamese-American immigrant. The contents of the letter unearth the narrator’s unique experience, grappling with themes of race in America, generational trauma, substance abuse, sexuality and, above all, the complexity of family relationships. The bestseller was named one of the top 10 books of 2019 by The Washington Post and has been critically acclaimed not only for its lyrical style but also its ability to bring such difficult topics to light with genuinity.
“Everything I Need I Get from You: How Fangirls Created the Internet as We Know It” by Kaitlin Tiffany
For those of us who didn’t grow up as diehard Directioners or passionate members of the Beyhive, the culture of internet fandoms is confusing at best and borderline-insane at worst. Author Kaitlin Tiffany keenly and hilariously breaks down these online spaces in “Everything I Need I Get from You.” She argues that, far from being hysterical, love-struck teens, fangirls are innovators whose contributions to social media have shaped Internet culture. The book focuses largely on the One Direction fandom and also includes a discussion of fan culture’s interactions with capitalism. It is both celebratory and critical of the online community, and altogether, wholly entertaining.
“The Vote Collectors: The True Story of the Scamsters, Politicians, and Preachers Behind the Nation's Greatest Electoral Fraud” by Michael Graff and Nick Ochsner
This nonfiction account delves into a major electoral scandal in the November 2018 election, which took place just hours from Durham in North Carolina’s 9th District. Written by two Charlotte-based reporters, it examines the issues of electoral fraud, racism within the voting system and the vulnerabilities of small-town elections. Graff and Oschner challenge the idea that American democracy is infallible, and as the 2022 primaries are underway, it’s more important than ever to be informed about the system that we as voters participate in and uphold.
“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt
From Pulitzer prizewinner Donna Tartt, “The Secret History” begins with protagonist Richard Papen reminiscing on his experience at Hampden, an elite liberal arts college in Vermont. Having escaped from poverty and abuse, Papen is desperate to fit in among his wealthy peers. He soon finds himself obsessed with, and eventually a part of, a tight-knit clique of classics students who are led by an unusually charismatic professor. The novel sees Papen lose sight of morality as he delves deeper into this group, who take Greek romantic ideals to the extreme — and ultimately become murderers. The novel is fast-paced, compelling and has been described as a “modern classic.”
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” tells the story of two women: Hollywood legend Evelyn Hugo, who has grown reclusive in her old age, and journalist Monique Grant, whose career and personal life have seemingly rolled to a standstill. Hugo plucks Grant out of obscurity to write her much-sought-after biography. Her life as a starlet is chock-full of ambition, romance and heartbreak, as well as multi-dimensional characters who make the New York Times bestseller impossible to put down. Readers learn how the protagonists’ lives intersect in an unexpected and tragic way.
Remember your sunscreen, stay hydrated and happy reading!
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Sevana Wenn is a Trinity sophomore and features managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.