Plan a trip with these top picks for great summer reading

There’s absolutely nothing in the world like losing yourself in a book, allowing it’s pages to take you to a place or time you’ve never been. It’s a shame that we can’t read more than we do during the school year, but our busy schedules and hectic lives take priority. Honestly, it seems like the only time we pick up a book is when we’re assigned too.

Thankfully, summer’s just around the corner, and not only does it offer three months of school-free days in the sun, but also the unbeatable opportunity to start reading again. Whether you’re into new releases or the good old classics, creating a summer reading list is a great idea. It can keep you stressless and tranquil, improves your thinking and writing skills, increases your vocabulary, is mentally stimulating to improve memory and concentration, and is basically free entertainment! I’ve compiled a few great trending new releases and CFHS English teacher Diane Flaherty’s favorite classics to help you get started on your summer reading lists

New Releases: 

The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – 2015

This suspenseful psychological thriller will keep readers up all night, just so they can finish it. Rachel takes the same train through the same neighborhood every day on her way to work, always looking out the same window over the same view. She even sees the same couple eating breakfast every morning, until one day she see’s something shocking, something new and she can’t keep it to herself. Taking it to police, she becomes dangerously entwined in what happens next, and the lives of everyone involved.

The Last Time We Say Goodbye –

Cynthia Hand – 2015

This novel, from the hands of a New York Times bestselling author, tells the heart wrenching story of a brother’s suicide and the haunting text he sent his sister that could have changed it all. This thoughtfully deep read will change the way young adults think about loss and death, and the effects those two have on friends and family.

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn – 2010

From the author of Gone Girl, this intense novel follows Libby Day as she unearths the history behind the 25-year-old murder of her mother and two sisters. Working with the Kill Club, a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes, Libby hopes to discover proof that will free her brother, the accused murderer. As her search takes her through shabby strip clubs and across abandoned tourist towns, the unimaginable truth surfaces, and she finds herself right where she was 25 years ago: on the run from a killer. Pick up a copy before the movie in making hits the big screen.

Things You Won’t Say – Sarah Pekkanen – 2015

This timely novel sheds new light on the issue of police brutality. Jamie, the wife of policeman Mike, tries desperately to hold their family together as a string of shootings at the police headquarters, first of Mike’s best partner, then by Mike himself, take over everything. The situation gets more complex as the press descend into their lives, Mike’s ex tries to take him back, and Jamie’s younger sister begins experiencing family troubles of her own. Pekkanen’s realistically compelling writing style will capture readers and quickly draw them into the story.

A Fall of Marigolds – Susan Meissner – 2014

This novel consists of two women, one a nurse working in 1911’s Ellis Island, the other a fashion merchant living in 2011’s Upper Manhattan, that are inexplicably connected by an embroidered scarf. Having both lost their husbands—to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and to the attacks of 9/11—the scarf may open their eyes to the larger forces at work in their lives.

The Boston Girl – Anita Diamant -2014

From a New York Times bestselling author, this novel fascinatingly highlights a generation of women trying to find their place in the world. Addie Baum, a now 85-year-old grandmother, tells her granddaughter her story of being raised as the daughter of cautious Jewish immigrants in the early 1900s America—the land of short skirts, celebrities and chances for women.

First Frost – Sarah Addison Allen – 2015

Written with a beautiful literary voice, this novel’s mysteriously enchanted storyline will instantly capture both readers’ hearts and minds. As the Waverly Women’s lives spin out of control, their magical apple tree waits restlessly for the infamous first frost, until a mysterious stranger shows up and challenges the very heart of the family. They each must make choices they’ve never before been faced with, yet somehow keep their family ties strong amidst this extraordinary season of change that is First Frost.

The Book of Unknown Americans –

Cristina Henriquez – 2014

This novel dives deeply into what it means to be an American. Original and raw, it shares the story of a boy and a girl in love, who each came to America in search of hope and opportunity. Woven into their love story are the stories of many who have come the United States from all over Latin America. Their journeys will inspire you, surprise you and break your heart.

Before I Go – Colleen Oakley – 2015

Innovative and impressive, this novel tackles a seemingly impossible feat, telling the tear-jerking story of 27-year-old Daisy, a woman who has just learned her breast cancer has returned, and she has as little as four months to live. Daisy is frightened, but not for herself. She is afraid for her husband, who will be alone when she dies. The only solution: find him a new wife. Yet as she searches, the idea of him being with another woman makes her question what’s more important, his happiness the rest of his life, or her own in these last few months?

Inside the O’Briens – Lisa Genova – 2015

Written by the author of Still Alice, this novel tells the powerful and transcendent story of a family struggling with Huntington’s disease, a lethal neurodegenerative genetic disease with no known cure. It strikes the father first, leaving each of his four children with a 50 percent chance that they have it too. Should they be tested? What if the gene is positive? Can they live with the anxiety of not knowing as they watch their father deteriorate?

Classics:

The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison – 1970

This Nobel Prize winner’s debut novel shares the story of a young girl convinced that her blackness makes her ugly and utterly worthless. If only she had blue eyes, her life would be so much better. Depicting the matter of race in America through vivid images of prejudice, sexuality and domestic violence, this novel reveals broad insight into discrimination.

The Death of a Salesman – Arthur Miller – 1949

Originally a play, this Pulitzer Prize-winning piece defines the American Dream through the eyes of Willy Loman, a failing salesman whose dreams were just too vast to be supported. To the modern man, Willy has become a symbol of grandiosity, and his story a means for comprehending the epic extremes of anguish and loss, all in the four walls of an American living room.

A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen  – 1879

Also originally a play, it undermines society’s then most sacred concept, marriage, by introducing Nora, a woman who is not content with her caged societal expectation to stay home and watch the children. Ibsen’s realistic dialogue, suspenseful plot and accurate characterizations make the struggles of his characters utterly convincing, and thus shocking, especially to his original audiences.

The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams – 1945

Also originally a play, this piece won the New York Drama Critic Circle Award. It tells it’s compelling story through the memories of narrator Tom Wingfield, an aspiring poet who works in a shoe warehouse (a job he hates) to support his mother and sister. His father ran off years ago and, except for one postcard, has not been heard from since.

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood – 1985

This dystopian novel explores the realms of power, gender and religious politics in a world where the president and his congress have been killed. Offred, a housemaid for the new all-controlling government, the Republic of Gilead, can remember the time before the oppression and will stop at nothing to discover the secrets of those who control her to end it.

A Lesson Before Dying – Ernest Gaines – 1993

Set in a small Cajun community in the 1940s, this novel brings together two very different men and forms between them an inseparable bond: Jefferson, a young black male incarcerated for his accidental involvement in a drug store shootout, and Grant Wiggins, a teacher who visits Jefferson’s cell to share his knowledge. Together they discover the art of defying expectation.

The Member of the Wedding –

Carson McCullers- 1946

Having since been made into both a play and a movie, this sensitive novel explores the daily life of 12-year-old Frankie, who is just plain bored. That is, until she hears about her older brother’s wedding. Suddenly consumed by talk of the event, she becomes overly active in it, wishing so deeply to finally become part of something larger than herself.

Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger – 1951

This novel, narrated by 17-year-old Holden Caulfield, who leaves his prep school to live underground in New York for three days. The only real conclusion readers can make is that his voice is a mix of pain and pleasure: the pain he keeps for himself and the pleasure he gives away to others.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl -1946

This novel is a compilation of psychiatrist Frankl’s memories about his experiences in Nazi death camps. He spent time at four different camps over three years, while his family all perished. Reflecting on his own experiences and the experiences of those he later treated, Frankl argues that we as humans cannot avoid suffering. We can, however, choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it and move forward with renewed purpose.

David Copperfield – Charles Dickens – 1850

This novel’s storyline is based on Dickens’s own journey from boyhood to manhood. His personal coming of age experiences are reflected through David, who progresses from his mother’s over-protective arms to the horrors of boarding-school and then sweatshops. Overall, the novel expertly expresses the rewards of friendship, romance and self-discovery that accompany such a change.

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