Summer is finally almost over, which means it is time for my quarterly favorites. Which I did have a hard time putting together this time around. I dislike summer in general, but this one was particularly not great in the reading department. Which I my own doing since I was a little overambitious with the reading experiments. Especially the one where I brilliantly decided to read the entire Harvard summer reading list. And yes, that was sarcasm.

At the beginning of this year, I decided to commit to one reading experiment a month, and it has been fun. But I’m reaching the point where I’m kind of missing just reading whatever I feel like reading. I have some planned through the end of the year that I’m excited about, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do after that. I know this is a weird post to talk about this, but it’s the main reason I didn’t get to read books I really wanted to read just for fun this summer. Let me know what you think. Should I keep doing them?

Anyway, I didn’t read very many books this summer that I felt merited a five-star rating. I read three. And one of them was a reread, so it is not included here. But I put together a list of the five standout books of the summer, and I guess that’s what this is.

Click the links below for my monthly wrap ups if you want to see everything I read this summer:

June – July – August

How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa

This is a book of short stories illustrating the experiences of Asian American immigrants – the culture differences, the challenges of living someplace new, and raising children in a place with different traditions and values than you have. I didn’t love all the stories in this collection, and it actually took me a while to get through. But I did enjoy being able to take my time with it, and I did end up liking it quite a bit. I think it says something that I still remember a lot about this book three months later (I read a lot, so for something to stick with me that long is big).

Beowulf: A New Translation by Maria Dahvana Headley

As much as I complain about my Harvard summer reading experiment, it did get me to read this. Which, to be fair, I had picked up before I even saw the Harvard summer reading list, so I would have read it either way. Eventually. But I am glad I read this because it is absolutely fantastic. It’s definitely a more contemporary translation of Beowulf, but it was infinitely more fun to read.

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

I had literally never heard of this before I did a reading experiment in July in which I read books Goodreads thought I would love. But this book was good. I was on the verge of a slump when I picked this up, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I couldn’t put this down. It’s a WWII historical novel, and revolves around three women: a Soviet pilot, a Nazi murderess, and an American photographer. There were a few minor issues that kept me from giving this five stars, but I did love it overall. I’m excited to read more of Kate Quinn’s books.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

This was actually for the same reading experiment as The Huntress (not all of them were hits). It’s an “experimental memoir” and that’s absolutely what this is. I also really appreciated that this is about the author’s experience in an abusive same-sex relationship. Which isn’t something people really talk about. I thought it was really poignant and well-written. The style of this memoir makes it really unique and definitely stands out in my mind. Before reading this, I had Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties on my shelves, and I’m even more excited to read that one now.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

This book was so dark and weird, which we all know are two things I almost always love. I almost feel like I can’t say anything about this without giving too much away, so I’ll just say I loved it. It’s probably not the kind of book everyone will love, but it was right up my alley. If you like weird books or mysterious dark academia, definitely check this one out.

That’s it for my summer favorites! What are your favorite books of this summer? Anything you’re excited to read this fall?

I recently opened a bookshop, where you can go and buy books and also shop my curated collections of my personal favorites AND all of the books I’ve read for my reading experiments. Or you can just buy whatever books you want to. I get a small commission at no extra cost to you, and you get to support your choice of indie bookstores – it’s a win all around! 

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9 thoughts

  1. You know how much I love and appreciate your reading experiments, but reading for your own enjoyment is so crucial!! I thought I could keep my series going as well, but I’m glad I’m taking a break in September. It was much needed.
    Also, I’m still curious about this new translation of Beowolf. You really got me hooked on the idea of picking that one up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think I’m going to stick with it through the end of the year (because October/November are themed for those months and I’m already working on December), but figure out a different plan for 2022.

      And YES! Pick up Beowulf. It is the classic example of the hero story, and this new translation is really fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, thanks for sharing. I’m intrigued to read a Beowulf translation! This summer I finally managed ‘100 years of solitude’ – my third attempt to complete that book. I have 30 pages to go …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is A LOT shorter if that helps. So even if you hate it, you’ll have dedicated a lot less of your life to reading it 😂

      I haven’t read Jonathan Strange yet, but I do feel more motivated to pick it up after reading Piranesi. I wonder if that reading order will influence how I feel about it.

      Liked by 1 person

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