While some New Year’s resolutions bite the dust before the first month of the year ends, a few of mine have managed to stay steadfast as 2019 winds into its last stretch. Among various mental and physical health resolutions, there were a few creative ones I wanted to tackle. One resolution, in particular, not only stuck with me but brought me back to something I’ve always loved: reading — for fun. My goal was simple: three books a month for a total of 36 by the end of 2019 — which, in comparison to my 2018 total of 18 — is a significant change. Now, as September rolls in, I’ve read a total of 48 books this year. With a newly opened bookstagram to keep me on track and in-the-know of what the next best read will be, here are my top five favorite reads from this summer.
“The Wedding Date” by Jasmine Guillory
The first of a four-book series, “The Wedding Date” is the perfect meet-cute for characters Alexa and Drew. This book is golden, especially in comparison with the following novels in the series. The thing with my reading interests — which mostly revolve around contemporary romance, historical fiction and the occasional fantasy read — is that the book has to be impactful enough for me to remember it. What I enjoyed about this read was the fact it was messy and wild and frankly maddening at times.
“What We Owe” by Gonaz Hashemzadeh Bonde
The best way to describe this next book is haunting. I vividly remember thinking about this book for weeks after I finished it. A story about the intricacies and delicacies in the life of an immigrant — an Iranian immigrant to be more specific — this book is not only real, but raw. It’s one of those books I believe everyone needs to read because the insight it provides can’t be found anywhere else.
“Next Year in Havana” by Chanel Cleeton
If you’re like me, chances are you know next to nothing about the Cuban Revolution. This novel not only pulled at my heartstrings, but taught me about the country of Cuba and its people. When we talk about people of color telling their stories and being authentic to their roots, there’s not a better novel that comes to mind that can exemplify this.
“The Girl He Used to Know” by Tracey Garvis Graves
This is one of those novels you see hyped up everywhere. Bestseller lists raved about it, and it’s featured on nearly every bookstagram account you can find — and rightfully so. In recent years, there has been a rising trend in terms of representation in popular novels — diversity ranging from skin color, mental capabilities, lifestyle choices and more. This novel features an autistic main character who is gentle as can be. It shows her struggle with her diagnosis, but more than that, it humanizes those with autism. I tend to find romances set in college unrealistic for the most part, but this one was right on the dot for me.
“How to Find Love in a Bookshop” by Veronica Henry
This book reminded me of why I fell in love with reading at such a young age. Just like the characters, I find it exhilarating and liberating to get lost in worlds other than my own. It’s fitting, then, that this novel is the last of my favorite books. The perfect novel for book lovers far and wide, it shows the power of what a good book can do for just about anyone. When all is lost, a good book is a perfect remedy.
Picking five novels was tricky, so I must have some honorable mentions. “Daisy Jones and the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the 70s rock band exposé we all wanted. It’s hard to believe the band in this novel, this group of genuine and messy people, isn’t real. “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple was a surprising favorite of mine. When characters are too quirky, it’s hard for me to get into the book. Yet, I must say, I can completely connect with Bernadette’s struggling urge to just disappear. Finally, “Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors” by Sonali Dev is a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen’s famous novel. It tells the story of two unlikely lovers, the woes of being in an Indian family and the realization that nearly everyone is flawed in one way or another.
Among these golden reads were flops, duds and a few DNFs, but the whole point of my resolution was to learn to fall back in love with reading. I have to say the endeavor has been quite successful so far.