Can you believe summer is almost over? Yeesh – where’d the time go?? My sister and I have been planning on Labor Day Weekend trip all summer, only to find out the band we were going to see broke up last week. We’re scrambling now to put a lake trip together.
What are your plans for the weekend? Whether you’ll find yourself in the mountains, on the beach, on the road, or stuck at work, if your plans involve reading, I’ve got you covered. Scroll down to find some great reads to pack with you.
If you’ll find yourself toes deep in the tide, beach towels on the sand, consider one of these beachy reads:
As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner – This family drama (fiction) stars three Jewish sisters and their kids, as they spend a summer at their family cottage on “Bagel Beach.” But when a terrible accident occurs, the family must rally together – or split apart – to make it. Told from 12 year old Molly’s point of view, this is a beautiful, touching novel about the bonds and limitations of family, and the cost of guilt and grief.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – Travel writer Lo Blacklock, after a terrifying break in, is looking forward to a week on the water upon one of the world’s most luxurious and intimate cruises. All is well until Lo sees a woman thrown overboard and no one on the boat is missing. Who was this girl and what happened to her? Or did Lo make the whole thing up? Ware’s sophomore novel is perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and will keep you guessing until the very end.
The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery – Naturalist Sy Montgomery journeys into the deep blue to meet one of the sea’s most famous creatures. Both in aquariums and in the wild, Montgomery befriends several octopuses and seeks to answer the biggest questions – of both them and us. Montogomery’s project is a delightful and probing narrative into what makes octopuses, octopus, and humans, human.
All At Sea* by Decca Aitkenhead – Award-winning Guardian journalist Decca Aitkenhead turns her investigative attention to herself as she spills out her partner’s heartbreaking story. Tony, Decca, and their four year old son are vacationing in Jamaica when the unthinkable happens: their son starts to drown. Frantic, Tony jumps in and saves him, and then, right before Decca’s eyes, drowns. A heartbreaking, powerful story about a couple who finds each other at the exact right moment, and a musing on what happens when unexpected death steals away those we love.
To the Mountains
I just got back from the mountains myself, and can swear that these books are perfect around the campfire or as a precursor to staring at the stars:
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller – Hig, Hig’s dog, and Bangley are among the last of Earth’s survivors after a flu epidemic. The three spend their days protecting their land against raids, scavenging for food, and flying their plane. But when Hig hears a call through the plane radio, he flies past the point of no return, searching for hope in the wasteland. Told in choppy but beautiful prose, Heller’s novel shines as a love letter to humanity.
A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding – In thirteenth-century Persia, Nouri is born perfectly normal except for his extra set of ears. Orphaned early on, Nouri is raised up in a Sufi order. Following his life, as he moves from place to place, Nouri’s journey is one of sexual and spiritual formation. Golding’s novel reveals the world’s most treasured intricacies, in beautiful and sweeping tones.
Wilderness Essays by John Muir – Muir was one of the earliest writers and explorers of the American West. He was also one of the first incarnations of environmental activism and preservation. His travel journals and essays ring true to this day – full of wonder we know, and nostalgia we don’t, Muir dazzles in this collection of valleys, mountains, and glaciers.
The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel – Chris Knight holds a few records. For 27 years, Knight avoided all human contact, camping out in the deep woods of Maine. To survive, he broke into dozens of homes thousands of times, likely a record for crimes committed without capture. Told in full fledged honesty, Finkel’s biography is the portrait of a hermit, and an exploration into silence and loneliness.
On the Road
Driving America’s scenic highways this weekend (or, like me, driving through flat plains and cornfields?), plug in one of these audio books and keep your eyes safely on the road.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Ian Reid – Jake’s girlfriend opens the novel with a confession – she’s thinking of ending things. On a long, snowy drive to her boyfriend’s parent’s house, our unnamed narrator muses on love and destiny. And then they get to the house. And everything changes. Reid’s short novel is a non-stop thrill ride with an ending that will, truly, take your breath away. Runtime: 5h23m
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe – Blogger Randall Munroe makes a living off of people’s absurd hypothetical scenarios. In this collection, the best (and worst) questions are assembled – with detailed and hilarious scientific answers.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Confession: I haven’t actually listened to this one… yet. But The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite books I own (I have a 1940’s copy) AND this one is narrated by ANNE FREAKING HATHAWAY. I’m literally dying to go back to school so I can listen to this one on my way to work. Please let me know if you like it!
Stuck at Work and Home
For those staying at home, I highly recommend The Simplicity of Cider* by Amy E. Reichert. You’ll feel like you’re walking through Sana’s apple orchard, following a budding romance between her and Isaac. It’s a perfect novel for the time between summer and autumn, and you’ll feel completely at peace no matter which season (or living room furniture) you find yourself in.
If you’re stuck working this weekend (my mom feels your pain), unwind with these quick novellas and other shorter novels.
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman – There’s a square that grows smaller every day. Noah, Grandpa, and sometimes Ted (Grandpa’s son and Noah’s dad) sit and laugh, discussing their lives and math. This tiny novella packs a big punch, and is the most original, personal thing Backman has ever written.
Grief is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter – A widower and his two boys are visited by a strange crow after the tragic death of his wife and their mother. A long form poem, Porter captures what it means to grieve and move on, and searches in strange places for help.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt – Rediscover this childhood classic of three seemingly random events in the first week of August: a man walking down the road in a yellow suit, a family with a dangerous secret reuniting, and a young girl talking to a toad. A beautiful, if somewhat shallow, novel.
What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell – An American teacher begins a journey into predation and lust when he enters a bathroom beneath Sofia’s National Palace of Culture. He pays Mitko for sex and keeps returning, unraveling the story of this strange young man and the country he calls home.
What are your plans for Labor Day? What books are you planning to pack? Leave a comment down below to let me know!!
*denotes a book provided by publisher via a Goodreads.com giveaway. This in no way affected reviews or placement on list.