Put down your phones, people! Summer is meant for long lazy afternoons on a blanket under a tree in the park (or sitting at a café in Paris, perhaps), with a book in hand. Here, I’m sharing my summer reading list, along with the ideal scenario in which to enjoy each book. All of these are new releases for spring/summer 2018.
For the Café Patio: I'm not proud of it, but it seems my attention span gets shorter as the days go by; it’s rare for me to find a piece of literature that can captivate me for very long without a distraction from my phone or the urge to complete a chore (yes, it’s that bad!) But in The Measure of my Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris, Jackie Kai Ellis’ raw depictions of her struggles with depression and her failing marriage blended with her lusty descriptions of food, love and Parisian life, have kept me up many a night this summer, riveted by the vulnerability of her prose. The fact that each chapter is themed around a recipe makes the read that much more delicious ... Trained as a graphic designer, and then a pastry chef (Ellis opened Kitsilano’s Beaucoup Bakery in 2012), it’s clear that the Vancouver-bred author was born with a third talent: writing.
For the Beach: Emily Giffin’s books are undeniably “Chick Lit”, but the frankness of her tone, and the relevant themes she covers (infidelity, single-motherhood-by-choice, career and marital dissatisfaction), have garnered the New York-based author respect and acclaim in the genre. The straightforward writing style and pop culture references do make her books perfect for the beach (and digestible even if you’ve had a cerveza or two). In summers past I’ve thoroughly enjoyed First Comes Love, Something Borrowed, Something Blue and Heart of the Matter, to name just a few of her titles, and her latest release, All We Ever Wanted is on my must-read list. This is the story of a woman who has married into a well-to-do Nashville family (characters with seemingly “perfect” lives are often the protagonists in Giffin’s book), whose life collides with that of a struggling single father when a photo is taken at a drunken party. What follows is a scandal that divides a community and leads both characters to question the state, and meaning, of their own lives.
For the Work Break: I always love a good non-fiction book to inspire and motivate me when I have more time to reflect during the summer months, and The Art of Gathering: Why We Meet and Why it Matters fits the bill. A conflict resolution mediator by trade, author Priya Parker observes that although human beings make great efforts to gather on a regular basis, whether it be via a work meeting, a family dinner or a coffee date with a friend, “much of the time we spend gathering is highly disappointing,” she writes. Parker analyzes a wide array of get-togethers—from a boardroom meeting to a flash-mob party—to investigate the ways that we can make ours more fulfilling and productive. After reading, you’ll likely never arrange, or attend, a work meeting, or a backyard barbecue, the same way again.
For the Cottage: By the campfire, in your sweatpants on the sofa, or in bed, a book written by an author as epic as The English Patient's Michael Ondaatje deserves the time and space away from city life to focus on it. The author enthralls with this dramatic World War II tale which begins after the end of the war in 1945. In it, fourteen-year-old Nathaniel and his older sister are left in London in the care of a mysterious man, Moth, as their parents set off to Singapore. At first, the teens wonder whether Moth is a criminal, but over time they grow to trust him and his offbeat and protective clan of friends. After months without contact, the teens' mother returns—but she is without their father, or an explanation about his disappearance. Told twelve years later in Ondaatje’s brilliant and alluring style, Warlight is the story of Nathaniel’s attempt, through his own imagination and recollections, to piece together the answers to the questions that have haunted him for much of his young adult life.
This article was originally published in The Editor's Diary.