Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. Even though it’s been a hobby of mine since I was a child, I didn’t read as much when I got to high school or when I started school at NAU. This year as COVID-19 spread and stay-at-home orders were enforced, I saw a lot of people on social media starting new hobbies. People began creating exercise routines, knitting, crafting or working on ways to find entertainment during self-isolation. I decided that this was a good time to start reading again. Since most people’s summer plans have been canceled, I figured people are still searching for ways to find entertainment at home. Below are some books that I read during the stay-at-home order that are perfect to keep you entertained this summer.
“Where the Crawdads Sing” — Delia Owens
I’ve heard so many mixed opinions about this novel and I finally decided to check it out. Some people have told me this book is overrated, but I loved reading every page. This book is Delia Owens’ debut novel, but the way she writes makes it seem like she has been writing books forever. “Where the Crawdads Sing” follows Kya who has been abandoned by her family in 1956 and lives alone in a marsh along the coast of North Carolina. Despite being on her own, Kya manages to be brave and accepts the marsh as her home. As she grows older, Kya befriends two young men from the town of Barkley Cove: Tate Walker and Chase Andrews. Both of them are drawn to Kya’s mysterious personality and are intrigued by her way of life. The story jumps back-and-forth from the years Kya is growing up until 1969, when she is 23 years old. The reader discovers that in October 1969 Chase Andrews was murdered and the people of Barkley Cove immediately suspect Kya of committing the crime. Although the novel tells Kya’s coming-of-age story, the murder trial makes Kya’s story even more interesting. Owens combines the beauty of the marsh, the suspense of the murder trial and romance to create a beautiful novel that readers won’t be able to forget.
“Find Me” — André Aciman
This book is the sequel to “Call Me By Your Name.” If you haven’t already read the first novel, go read it. It’s a beautiful novel that is also a good summer read. “Find Me” begins in the point of view of Elio Perlman’s father, Samuel. I was a bit surprised that the book started off with his narration, but his point of view was my favorite in the novel. Samuel is on a train to Rome when he befriends a woman, Miranda, on the train. Miranda suggests Samuel spend the day with her to keep him busy while he waits for Elio to arrive in Rome. Samuel and Miranda have a spontaneous adventure in Rome that made me want to travel to Rome with them. After Samuel’s narration, Elio becomes the narrator. Elio is now a concert pianist, and he meets an older man at a concert he’s attending. They begin a relationship that is somewhat similar to his relationship with Oliver in the first novel. The final narration is in Oliver’s point of view. He is now a professor in New York but is getting ready to leave the city. In both Elio and Oliver’s narrations, we see that their past relationship is something they will never forget. I loved getting to see the characters again, and I’m sure fans of the first novel will enjoy this, too. Aciman wrapped up Elio and Oliver’s story beautifully, and I hope fans loved their story as much as I did.
“The Nightingale” — Kristin Hannah
No book has ever made me cry until I read “The Nightingale.” Set in France during the start of World War II, the novel tells the story of two sisters: Vianne Mauriac and Isabelle Rossignol. Vianne is torn apart as her husband leaves to serve France during the war, and she is forced to take care of her young daughter alone. As the Nazis take over France, Vianne’s situation becomes even more complicated when a Nazi soldier begins living in her home. Her younger sister, Isabelle, stays with Vianne for a while, but she eventually leaves to Paris to fight in the French Resistance against the Germans. This book is so compelling and moving that I finished it in two days. Both Vianne and Isabelle’s stories had me hooked, and I admired their bravery throughout the book. The novel is truly impactful, and it is filled with so much empowerment for women.
“Normal People” — Sally Rooney
After watching trailers for the Hulu original series, “Normal People,” I decided to watch the show. There are only 12 episodes, but I was amazed during each of them. I loved the show so much that I had to read the book. The book begins with Irish teens Marianne Sheridan and Connell Waldron experiencing their last days of high school. Marianne is a loner at school, while Connell is a popular athlete. One day Marianne confesses to Connell that she has a crush on him. They begin a secret relationship throughout their last few days at school, and they realize they can finally be themselves with each other. As they leave their hometown to attend Trinity College, readers get to see how their relationship develops as they move to a new city. I found myself so intrigued by how Marianne and Connell’s story is written. There are many ups and downs in their relationship, but their story is strong enough to pull any reader into the novel.
“Little Fires Everywhere” — Celeste Ng
This novel was also made into a Hulu original series that I watched before reading the book. I became addicted to the show, so I wanted to read the book next. This book takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio which is a suburb that strives to be as perfect as a utopia. Eleana Richardson is a resident of Shaker Heights that has raised her family to be as perfect as the town they live in. Eleana’s ideal world is turned upside down when Mia Warren moves to town. Mia is a single mother who doesn’t play by the rules like Eleana does. Eleana becomes suspicious of Mia, and she decides to see what she can find out about Mia’s past. Filled with suspense, mystery, teen angst and drama, this book is as addicting as the show. There are so many different stories within the book that there is no possibility of getting bored when reading the novel.
“The Light We Lost” — Jill Santopolo
If you’re looking for a quick romance novel, this book is a great option. The book follows Lucy and Gabe who meet while attending Columbia University in New York. They meet on 9/11 and decide to live their lives to the fullest after meeting during a tragic event. After a few years of them staying in New York for work, Gabe gets an offer to work as a photojournalist in the Middle East. Gabe accepts the job offer while heartbroken Lucy stays in the city for work. As their lives go in different directions, Lucy constantly wonders about what could have happened if she and Gabe had stayed together as she narrates the story. Filled with emotions of heartbreak and love, Lucy and Gabe’s story is one that will definitely create a whirlwind of emotions for the reader.