Reading in the Silly Season

Scorching sun and blistering heat, every now and then a few rain droplets here and there which only make the air muggier – sounds like your summer? This year’s summer is exhaustingly hot again so the grassland looks more like a desert now. So, there often comes a time when you don’t enjoy the warmth as much as in the beginning. And maybe you too have holidays or just less to do than usual and I myself thought about what I could read that wouldn’t serve any specific academic purpose only giving me a good time and leaving me more satisfied than sitting in front of the computer all day and watching movies and series. Although, I must admit, of course, that there are some pretty cool summery things to watch as well. So, I thought I’d share my list with you.

  • Skyward, Brandon Sanderson: Skyward is a dystopian science-fiction novel but I particularly like that the main focus lies on the social system. It follows 17-year-old underdog Spensa, a girl that lives on the planet Detritus in the shadow of her father’s alleged cowardice and treason when he turned against his people and died during an air battle. Yes, dystopian stories need an underdog who shows the faults in society and the political system, and yes, it might be a little exhausting from time to time to sympathize with someone who is always anti-everything and system breaking for the sake of it. However, I really liked the character development of the protagonists and I liked the twist when they suddenly notice that the concept of ‘enemy’ is very subjective and usually not well-reflected. In the end, I think the book is a valuable addition to school and/or university literature because it subtly breaks out of the black and white thinking also forcing the characters to acknowledge that there is more to reality than what they make of it. I would recommend it as school literature but I think it’s simply too long.
  • Book Lovers, Emily Henry: Admittedly, this one is quite cheesy but sometimes cheesy is exactly what you need. I was writing my term paper about a pretty depressing subject and this book was like a vacation. It’s like a Hallmark movie written out and with only slightly more juicy scenes and romantic tension. A classic predictable love story about enemies meeting under different circumstances and simply falling for each other – perfect summer read, love it.
  • Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro: This is one of my all-time favourites! It’s set sometime in the future and it’s normal for children to have an Artificial Friend. And I find it most intriguing that the novel is told from the view of one of those instead of a human narrator. Although it is quite absurd at times, it’s about coping with loss, about othering and exclusion, but also about hope, and about love and friendship without being such a feel-good read, and it leaves room for own thoughts and interpretations.
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty, Jenny Han: It is the first novel of a trilogy by Jenny Han but I only know the series which is super cute and gives me a feeling of nostalgia, but I guess I’m also old already. It’s about, well, the rollercoaster of feelings a 15-year-old girl might have when everything is suddenly different and romance is not an abstract faraway construct anymore. I think it’s really cute and would recommend it to anyone, young and old, who feels alone with all the complicated stuff in the world (this series is proof that there are others in the same boat), or who wants to sit back and say “Ah yes, being 16 again”.

Other summer recommendations: Holes by Louis Sacher (on my list every year), The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón,

Have a great August!