As I’m writing this post, today is the LAST day of summer and it snowed SO MUCH overnight! It’s crazy. I think we had maybe a week or so of fall weather before the snow came and I’m hoping that the snow doesn’t stick (even though it’s been snowing all night and all day so far) so we can get more fall weather. But it’s Alberta so WHO KNOWS.
Anyway, this summer I read a RIDICULOUS amount of books and loved quite a few of them, so it was hard to narrow down my favourites to only 5. But when I went through my list, I wanted to not only pick out my favourites, but the ones that still have me thinking – and ones that I already want to reread.
So, in no particular order, here are the top 5 books I read this summer!
The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker
Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.
She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.
Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.
Why I loved it: Oh my gosh, you guys. This book I had gotten via NetGalley as an ARC. I not only requested it because it was written by Kathleen Tucker who is Canadian and has written some very fun new adult books, but also because it takes place in one of my favourite places, Alaska. I fell in love with this book INSTANTLY. I loved the characters, the setting, the romance, the family relationships. I loved that this book, being new adult, didn’t focus on what a lot of books of the same genre do which is usually the romance with very cliched characters. Instead there was a lot of focus on family and Calla’s relationship with her father, but definitely with some sweet romance as well. I absolutely ADORED this book and can’t wait to revisit it.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself…
Why I loved it: When I was maybe 10 or so, I watched Pet Sematary all by myself, in the basement, with the dog, and it FREAKED ME OUT SO MUCH. I never thought I would read the book the movie was based on until I started to really get into Stephen King’s books last year. After reading a good handful I decided to finally bite the bullet and dive into this one and it was just so so good. I love how readable Stephen King’s books are. Yes, he goes into great detail and the books are LONG but I love every minute (mostly) of reading his books. This book had me terrified in certain spots but I think it helped me to not be so scared of watching the movie now (yes, it still freaks me out nearly 30 years later) and I’m actually looking forward to watching it again.
Picnic At Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay
It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900. Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared. They never returned. . . .
Mysterious and subtly erotic, Picnic at Hanging Rock inspired the iconic 1975 film of the same name by Peter Weir. A beguiling landmark of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides as a masterpiece of intrigue.
Why I loved it: This book didn’t get 5 stars from me but it’s one of those books that I have NOT been able to stop thinking about. I picked this up after seeing lots of people talk about it and after seeing a few previews of the latest TV adaptation. I remember reading a synopsis of the book about how the reader will have to decide if the story was fact or fiction and that just sold me. This was a pretty quick read and the horror of the story is very subtle. It’s not really horror, but just unsettling. Certain things are talked about in the book, or happen, that absolutely creeped me out, where it was almost for the reader to decide what was seen or what happened with hints at the fantastical or horrific. I started reading more about the story after finishing it and I can definitely see myself rereading it very soon.
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Hanging over the porch of the tiny New England bookstore called Island Books is a faded sign with the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A.J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.
A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming him or for a determined sales rep named Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light. The wisdom of all those books again become the lifeblood of A.J.’s world and everything twists into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read and why we love.
Why I loved it: For years now I’ve heard such great things about this book but never got around to picking it up. I actually never thought I would read it until I found it at the thrift store for $3 and decided to pick up a copy. When I went away for vacation I took this book with me and dove into it first thing and was HOOKED. I love stories that take place in bookstores, but I also love stories about the people who live there and the changes that take place in their character. I was hesitant to like Fikry, but even after the first chapter he grew on me. I loved the chapter introductions where Fikry talked about his thoughts on certain short stories (his favourite) and I loved the relationships he cultivated throughout the story. It was almost bittersweet seeing that the story goes all the way to the end of Fikry’s life and I even shed a tear towards the end. This was a beautiful book.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting;’ Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Why I loved it: It’s kind of funny that this book made me top list now because when I first read it, years ago, I really didn’t like it. I am so so glad that I picked up a new copy (something I do often when I want to reread a classic – plus there are so many great editions of many classics) and dove into it for an entire afternoon/evening of reading. I read the whole thing in one sitting because I loved Jackson’s writing style. I remember thinking how weird it was that the people chosen to stay at Hill House were so chatty and funny when they spent time together, but when you have that mixed with odd characters and the house that is pretty much a character in itself, it’s almost like they’re covering up for something. By the end of this story, I was definitely creeped out and so excited to catch the Netflix show in October – and probably a reread after. I could see myself rereading this every fall – it’s just the perfect scary book.
And those are my top picks for the summer! I think it’s funny that three of the books are horror/thriller but I love reading those genres any time of the year. What have been your favourite reads of the past three months?