Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s topic is Summer Reads – the weather is heating up (for half of the world), so what books remind you of summer and are your quintessential summer reads?
Friends, this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post comes from the perspective of a girl who is not the fan of summer in the least. Don’t get me wrong, being able to step outside on a morning without having to worry whether you can risk leaving your umbrella behind is refreshing. But I live in England, and England does moderate weather best, so summer is rarely summer for very long. (Case in point: glorious sunshine last week, pissing down yesterday/today. It never lasts very long.) So I would ask you to bear in mind that I’m not the best person to talk about this week’s topic but let’s see what I’ve managed…
Honourable mention: Anything Jane Austen
I say anything Jane Austen, maybe not Northanger Abbey, unless you like your summer reads with a side order of satire on the Gothic genre? And if you do, hey, no judgement at all, that sounds pretty good to me. But, back to my main point, I associate Jane Austen with summer. I haven’t the foggiest why. I suppose it’s because summer used to be associated with a summer break after the long, arduous months of school. It would be the time associated with freedom to do what I wanted, to read what I wanted, to not have to worry about school until September rolled around again. And what did I chose to do? Re-read Jane Austen of course. I’d recommend Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility mostly, but Emma is also wonderful.
(Extra rec: get hold of the 2009 adaptation of Emma starring Johnny Lee Miller and Romola Garai, you won’t regret it, and there are some summery vibes in it in the form of Romola Garai’s glorious facial expressions which light up my world.)
5. We Were Liars by e. lockhart (x)
The cover screams summer read, as does a cursory synopsis: rich, privileged family summers on a private island together being lazy and having fun. The writing is lyrical and poetic and lingers in that kind of lazy way that totally fits the tone of the story it’s telling. But obviously there’s hidden depths to this family and secrets and plots and all the good stuff. I don’t want to say more, honestly, because it would completely ruin any enjoyment to be had from this book (trust me: go into it not knowing anything), but it’s immersive and addicting and you could definitely fly through this in a long summer afternoon of reading outside. Side note: for some reason I associate this book with Vampire Weekend’s debut album too (don’t ask me why, I love Vampire Weekend, that wasn’t shade, but I’m also very aware of their ~vibe~).
4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (x)
Anna and the French Kiss is not a literary masterpiece, it’s far from it, yet I rated it 5-stars when I read it and I would continue to recommend it as a summer read. Why? Because it’s fun, it’s light, and it’s so damn addictive that I can’t even begin to fathom how. If you want an escapist summer read then you couldn’t do better than escaping to the streets of Paris with Anna and Etienne St. Clair (yes, that’s his real name). It’s a ‘will they won’t they’ where obviously they will, because it’s this genre, but I think if you could distil a slightly questionable quality chick flick into a book (you know those ones where you call them a guilty pleasure but, really, how much guilt is there in that? see: Leap Year), it would be this one.
3. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (x)
If you’re looking for a cute contemporary with a bit of a bite, then I’d highly recommend My Life Next Door. From the cover you’d presume you’re going to get a cutesy romance between (inferring from the title here) the boy and girl next door, here called Jase and Samantha, that happens over the course of a summer. Well, yes, it is that but it also has a depth that well and truly surprised me. It has cuteness abound, let’s not forget the cuteness, but it also has a well fleshed out character development, some actually quite gritty scenes, and a delightful portrayal of (realistic) family life in a big and rambunctious family. So yeah, don’t get me wrong, there’s kissing enough for this to be fun and bubbly, but the hectic household of the Garretts and the darker undertone revolving around the political aspirations of Sam’s mum are what truly make the story a wonderful read.
2. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (x)
Maybe it’s because this book opens on a beach in May (though in Maine so, you know, not the summery-est of places apparently), maybe it’s because it opens with the idealised vision of a young, newly married couple Lotto and Mathilde who luxuriate in their relationship on said beach, maybe it’s because the writing is lyrical and sumptuous somehow… or maybe it’s just because of the colourful cover. Real talk though: this book captured that idealised memory of a summer long gone – the way you look back on good times through rose-tinted glasses and ignore the bad things. It captures those slightly lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, the way your memory of them isn’t quite defined, a little blurry around the edges like a humid day can be – and this book also shreds those memories to pieces with that little thing we like to call perspective and reality. So, yeah, it’s a summer read, but don’t expect it to be all sunshine and daisies.
1. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (x)
This is not a height of summer book, my friends, this is a ‘when summer starts to turn to autumn and you get humid, hazy evening that get colder as the days and week goes on’ – do you know the mood I mean? When you can kind of feel that last dying breath of summer? To me, that’s what The Raven Boys epitomises and I have no idea why I associate that with it. Perhaps it’s because I read the first couple of books in the series over the course of a summer but one of my most vivid reads of the third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was on a (late) summer holiday to Menorca where sunshine was abound? The point is… I cannot explain why I associate summer with The Raven Boys series but all I know is that it is completely immersive, such a rich and evocatively written fantasy, and that’s perfect for sinking your teeth into on a summer’s afternoon when you have the time and excuse to just be lazy and lose yourself in the world and adventures of Blue Sargent and her Raven Boys as they go hunting for an ancient Welsh king’s last resting place. Well we all do that over the summer, don’t we?
And there we have it folks – those were my top 5 summer reads. Do you agree/disagree with my choices? Which titles do you think make great reads for a summer’s day? And if you have a Top 5 Wednesday list, be sure to link it below – I’d love to take a look!