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Beach Reads & Beyond – Recommended Books for Summer 2024

We both love to read, leaning heavily towards fiction, historical fiction, and biographies/autobiographies.  Come summer we also tend to sprinkle in some lighter reads as well….just because!

Below I (Chrissie) am sharing 12 books I’ve enjoyed recently (I’ve read 30+ books this year so far, and have found many to be mediocre for some reason). Those listed include ‘beach reads’, ‘more serious reads’ and those in-between…in no particular order. So whether you want a ‘will they or won’t they’ romance, an inspiring book based on youths kidnapped by a warlord, a historical novel set in China, an autobiography about a woman surviving a harrowing upbringing, or a ‘romantacy’ (ie romance + fantasy) with dragons…hopefully there is something on the list for you!

All The Glimmering Stars by Mark Sullivan

What a great read. Mark Sullivan writes wonderful novels based on the real lives of amazing people. He wrote one of my favorite books ever – Beneath a Scarlet Sky – about an Italian soldier in WWII (highly recommend it if you haven’t read it). His newest book, All the Glimmering Stars, just released a few weeks ago, is inspired by two young teenagers in 1990’s Uganda who are kidnapped by the fanatical African warlord Kony. They are both star students with bright hopes for their futures when they are forced into the Lord’s Resistance Army. The book tells the amazing story of survival of these two remarkable people.  I can’t recommend it enough. A

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan
The author of Crazy Rich Asians is back with another fun book about the lives  and antics of the ultra-wealthy. This time we travel to the Big Island of Hawaii, Morocco, LA, England and Venice as we follow a family who appears rich to the world but who in fact is drowning in debt and about to lose it all. Such a fun summer beach read!

 

 

The Sicilian Inheritance by Jo Piazza

On many recent ‘to-read’ lists, this book is about an American woman in the midst of some personal upheaval traveling to Sicily to recover family property recently left to her. In her travels she learns about and has to manage the small town rumors and lore of her relative. The story is told from her point of view as well as the relative, her namesake, who once owned the property. Rating: B+

Funny Story by Emily Henry

The queen of the ‘summer beach read’ is back with this year’s offering. Funny Story is about two people who were dumped when their exes got together, who are now living together and pretending to be a couple to upset their exes. It’s a fun summer read with endearing characters and I whizzed through it (and I liked it much more than the authors ‘summer read’ of 2023). Good beach read material…which is what Emily Henry does best! Rating: B+ for a general read, but A- for a beach read.

Sisters Under The Rising Moon by Heather Morris

By the author of the bestseller The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Sisters Under the Rising Moon is a historical novel based upon real-life British, Australian and American women who became Japanese POWs in Sumatra during WWII while fleeing Singapore. The story of female POWs is rarely told and the sisterhood and strength of these women is remarkable. Rating: A-

Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

I loved this book, based on a true story, about a woman and her children forced to flee China during the Cultural Revolution. It was a book that I just kept thinking about and couldn’t wait to pick back up. Such courage and fortitude – so inspiring. Rating: A

Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

This is the first in a super-popular ‘Romantacy’ series. It takes place at a war college for dragon riders. There are dragons. There are special powers. There is a love triangle. You get the picture. With a 4.6 rating on Goodreads by over 1.5 million people (and an Amazon movie in the works)…this is a good place to start if you want to dip your toe into the “Romantacy” genre! Rating: A-

Real Americans by Rachel Khong

Another new, popular book, Real Americans was a great read. It follows 3 generations of a family – the daughter born and raised in NYC in Y2K time, her son, and her parents who fled Mao’s Cultural Revolution. A few details/aspects of the book I wasn’t crazy about (no spoilers..just a few things weren’t very realistic to me) but I really loved the story about what it means to be a Real American and how we all have our stories to share..or not…with family and others. Rating: A

Down the Drain by Julia Fox

If you are a fan of Educated, or of other books about women surviving tough upbringings, this one is for you. I knew nothing about Julia Fox except that she dated Kanye West post-Kim breakup, but I could not put this book down. She is a survivor to be sure…and the story of her childhood in the drug-filled world of NYC, and her upbringing in general, is one crazy story. The fact that she’s alive today is sort of a miracle. Rating: A-

How to Say Babylon by Safia Sinclair

Also for fans of books like Educated, this is an autobiography about a woman surviving growing up in an incredibly strict Rastafarian household in Jamaica. Now a well-regarded poet and teacher in the US, the author’s writing is beautiful as she recounts her childhood under her father’s very strict rules of Rasta and how she was able to break free of poverty and that lifestyle to follow her intellectual and artistic passions. Rating: A

James by Percival Everett

I loved this retelling of Huck Finn from the slave Jim’s (aka James) point of view. Beautifully written, and whether you have recently read Huck Finn or not, it’s a well-told story about friendship, slavery and growing-up. A great book-club book. Rating: A

Sorry I’m Late – I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan

I don’t know how this one came into my ‘to-read’ pile, hadn’t heard anything about it, and thus I had no expectations for it…and what a pleasant surprise! It’s funny. It’s well-written. And it takes you inside the mind of a true introvert. The author took a year to ‘say yes’ and to actively pursue not being an introvert, with some hilarious and impressive results. Rating: A-

The Guncle, and The Guncle Abroad by Steven Rowley

I read The Guncle a few years ago when it came out and really enjoyed it, and just read the newsly released follou-up The Guncle Abroad which takes place 5 years later (and I also enjoyed the author’s book The Celebrants). Although the cover art makes this series look like rom-coms or pure beach reads, these books are ‘smarter beach reads’. They are not romance-oriented, and although they are not ‘heavy’ reading, they are witty, smart, fun and full of great messages. The first book centers around a gay uncle (hence ‘Guncle) who is a  reclusive, former sitcom star living in Palm Springs who finds himself caring for his neice and nephew after their mom passes away. The second book picks up 5 years later when the kids’ father is about to remarry and the Guncle is charged with taking the kids around Europe prior to the wedding. Steven Rowley is witty, smart and charming in his writing and the books are the perfect beach read when you want to plow through a book in a couple sittings in the sand but don’t want the traditional ‘rom-com’ stuff. The first book is being made into a movie by Amazon. Rating: A-

 

2 thoughts on “Beach Reads & Beyond – Recommended Books for Summer 2024”

  1. Jackie Wilkinson

    Wow! Great list! You make me want to read every book. I am currently listening on Audible to Real Americans and have been just a bit bored with all the beginning info…..after your mention in your list I will certainly keep listening!

    I so enjoy finding your musings in my Inbox. Keep it up!!

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Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

2 thoughts on “Beach Reads & Beyond – Recommended Books for Summer 2024”

  1. Jackie Wilkinson

    Wow! Great list! You make me want to read every book. I am currently listening on Audible to Real Americans and have been just a bit bored with all the beginning info…..after your mention in your list I will certainly keep listening!

    I so enjoy finding your musings in my Inbox. Keep it up!!

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