Friday, June 28, 2019

Grace's Book Club: The Best Books to Read this Summer (2019)

Hey bookworms and welcome back for another Grace's Book Club post highlighting twenty-one diverse reading recommendations for Summer 2019! I have read and reviewed eighteen of the following books and the final three are on my current to be read pile. Summer is the perfect opportunity to catch up with reading and is there honestly anything more relaxing than lounging with a fantastic book in the sun? It is the perfect method of escapism and bliss. We have covered all bases here offering recommendations in contemporary fiction, non-fiction and classic literature across genres such as music, history, mythology, science. dystopia, art and so on. Reading is super cool and whether you are an avid reader or a new bookworm there is bound to be a book for you on this list! Have you read any of the following books? Share your comments below and make sure you are following me on instagram @ gracewithloveblog to stay up to date with all my latest reads, new releases and book reviews. Happy reading!

Circe by Madeline Miller-  Shop here
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The prose of Madeline Miller is a true joy to be immersed in complimented by the immense ancient world of Gods, Goddesses and nymphs evoked beautifully by a highly talented author. The story is a modern and kick-ass feminist retelling of Homer's classic literature. If you are interested in history, mythology, feminism and beautiful prose you will adore this book which has deservedly become an international bestseller. Circe has stolen my heart and I would love to view a movie adaptation of this stunning ancient world...hopefully one day! Madeline Miller's masterpiece has firmly taken a place on my list of all-time favourite books ever!!! 

Normal People by Sally Rooney - Shop here
4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sally Rooney's Normal People is fiction for Modern Ireland and a New Age. Rooney deals well with issues such as contemporary relationships, mental health and mental illness. The narrative is quite introspective and the plot is definitely more character driven than action driven which will make for an interesting BBC adaptation which is now in the pipeline. I would have enjoyed a more well rounded and satisfying ending but overall Sally Rooney is an exciting new voice in literary fiction and I enjoyed the vivid insights into the psyche of young Irish minds. 

She Was The Quiet One by Michele Campell - Shop here
3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

She Was The Quiet One.... but is she guilty? Set in the privileged campus of Odell Boarding School, the story is an addictive tale of sibling rivalry, power, bullying and the complex drama of life at a private school. She Was The Quiet One is an enjoyable albeit sometimes predictable thriller and to sum up it will keep fans of suspense and school based drama entertained. 

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Shop here
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Daisy Jones and the Six is an intoxicating read from beginning to end and is a must read work of fiction for fans of 60's and 70's classic rock bands such as Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. This novel features some really cool, edgy and inspirational male and female characters and also deals very well with the sensitive issue of substance abuse. Daisy Jones and the Six is a vintage paradise and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this reading experience. 

The Binding by Bridget Collins - Shop here
4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Binding is an utterly unique and imaginative piece of historical fantasy. Imagine a world where you could store your memories away in a book and start life afresh.. Bridget Collins weaves a fascinating realm of dark magic and her lyrical prose creates suspense and mystique around the craft of book-binding. The story drags in places and could have been made shorter but overall the magical writing of Bridget Collins makes up for this and creates an enthralling one of a kind work of literature.You will enjoy this book if you enjoy historical and fantasy reads and novels dealing with LGBT romance, mental illness and social class. 

The Cows by Dawn O' Porter - Shop here 
3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

The Cows is an honestly hilarious and heart-breaking novel about three progressive independent young women- Cam, Stella and Tara. The events of this book had me laughing out loud, cringing with utter embarrassment and feeling in awe of each woman's immense strength. Upon reflection, some incidents in this novel were completely farfetched and nonsensically ridiculous but in a way this added to the escapism element. The Cows is an entertaining and at times unbelievably unexpected look at feminism and the place of women in modern society. 

Sapiens by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari - Shop here 
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sapiens is a non-fiction account of tremendous scope combining ancient history, modern science, philosophy, economics and every realm in between. This is a very heavy read which took me considerably longer to complete than a fiction book but it is an extremely valuable read. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the evolution of homo sapiens, the Agricultural Revolution and the impact of human behaviour on wildlife and the eco-system. Sapiens is a highly educational and provocative book that is absolutely necessary and timely reading. 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo - Shop here
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Alchemist is the marmite of modern literature- you will either love it or hate it. I am in the former category and I think we should never underestimate the power of literature to be a beacon of light. As someone living with clinical depression The Alchemist fills me with joy, hope and optimism like no other. The fable structure and magical fairy tale quality is a form of beautiful escapism. The naysayers may call The Alchemist cheesy and clĂ­che but isn't that the wonderful thing about books and art? We all have different life experiences and come to a piece of writing with unique circumstances shaping our viewpoints. For me, The Alchemist is more than a book, it is a therapeutic and transformative work of art which makes me feel happy and hopeful. Thank you Paulo Coehlo for creating this ray of light in a very dark world.  

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean - Shop here
3.5 ⭐⭐⭐

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is a solid and atmospheric debut set against a scorching Australian landcape. I enjoyed the vivid imagery of nature drizzling through the narrative and found the author's use of language impressive. However, I wanted more from the ending and felt there were a lot of unanswered questions throughout. This is the case of a promising story with an intriguing premise that could have been executed better in my view. Albeit, on the whole it is an enjoyable reading experience and would be an ideal Holiday/ book club read. 

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Shop here 
4.5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Purple Hibiscus is an exquisite novel oozing with Adichie's deliciously rich prose encapsulating Nigerian culture and folklore. This is an action packed family drama and coming of age story set against a volatile political and religious backdrop that will appeal to your emotional side. 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Shop here
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Great Gatsby is a delicious blend of evocative language, rich symbolism and the paradox of external decadence juxtaposed with internal emptiness. The sumptuous use of the English language makes Gatsby a timeless classic, plus the movie is visually stunning. 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney - Shop here 
3.5 ⭐⭐⭐

In Conversations with Friends Rooney has crafted four characters Frances, Bobbi, Nick and Melissa who are not particularly like-able but are so incredibly poignant and relevant to Irish life in 2019. The title suggests that this novel may be a light. fluffy read but the narrative is actually filled to the brim with philosophical monologues and introspection. Having read Normal People first I preferred the characters and themes of Rooney's second novel but her debut is still well executed. I am looking forward to reading future work from Rooney.  

We Should all be Feminists (shop here) and Dear Ijeawele (shop here) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Here are two absolutely essential texts on inter-sectional feminism which are highly educational for both men and women by the queen herself Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day - Shop here
4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

How to Fail is one of my favourite releases of 2019 so far! Warm, witty and full of anecdotes and real life lessons this guide helps build your strength, confidence and resilience. This is a must read toolkit especially for people who struggle with perfectionism. Albeit. this is a very privileged first-world account of failure which knocks one star rating off for me. 

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier - shop here 
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A classic and a must- read for art lovers worldwide, Girl with a Pearl Earring is a fascinating insight into the genius and process of master painter Johannes Vermeer and his muse Griet. This has been adapted as a movie but read the book first for the vivid imagery. 

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - shop here 

Adichie's debut is set during the Nigerian/ Biafran War of 1967-1970 and eloquently mixes politics and relationships. The subject matter is quite heavy so the story can be emotionally draining at times. Adichie's prose is lyrical and full of Nigerian culture and folklore as always. 

1984 by George Orwell - shop here 
5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

George Orwell's 1984 is a beloved dystopian classic and for good reason. This is a terrifyingly brilliant work of literary genius written by an author with impeccable and almost unbelievable foresight and imagination. 1984 is required reading for all citizens especially in this age of political upheaval and uncertainty. Bravo George Orwell for creating this epic marvel! 

Books on my To be Read Pile

Here are the books that I am looking forward to devouring this summer. Keep an eye on my instagram page @ gracewithloveblog for reviews. Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharti won the Man Booker International Prize 2019 and celebrates the history and coming of age story of modern Oman through the prism of one family's loves and losses. Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain is a portrait of an iconic artist written in time for the 25th anniversary of his death. As a huge Kurt and Nirvana fan it will be interesting to hear the insights of Danny Goldberg who worked with Kurt from 1990 to 1994 in the height of his success and Nirvana's career. Educated by Tara Westover is the New York Times Bestselling Memoir about the transformative power of education and is a book that I have been looking forward to reading as it getting really rave reviews. Milkman by Anna Burns won the Man Booker Prize in 2018 and tackles politics and culture in Northern Ireland through the lens of family drama, gossip and hearsay. The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a heart-breaking story of the very best of humanity in the very worst of circumstances, fans of historical fiction (especially based on World War II) should enjoy this book. Fellow bookworms I hope you enjoyed this post and picked up some recommendation for summer reading. Enjoy! 


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