* Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge for book bloggers, hosted by Lainey and Sam. The goal is for bloggers to choose their top 5 picks for the week’s given challenge, and you can find out more over on Goodreads! *
This week’s Top 5 Wednesday challenge is to narrow down your top 5 quintessential summer reads! These might be beachy reads, fluffy contemporaries, short stories, or just something that makes you think of green grass, sunny skies, and fun.
I’ll be honest and say that I tend to be a cliched-as-fuck human being in some aspects, this topic being one of them, because when I think of summer reads, I think of bubbly, happy contemporary reads. Even if the story has ups and downs (as most good ones do), if there isn’t a happy ending, it isn’t “summer” for me. That said, I’m hoping I’ll be able to offer up at least one or two titles that you lovelies won’t have read yet (or recently).
Sharing Sam – Katherine Applegate
First of all, if you’re wondering why the author name rings a bell, it’s because Katherine Applegate is also known as K.A. Applegate; yes, the K.A. Applegate of Animorphs fame, which was only the greatest book series of my childhood. Moving on. Second, do not let that basic cover fool you. Don’t let the general tiny-ness of this book fool you, either, because it may only be 160 pages, but it packs a helluva punch in a very small amount of text.
This book essentially follows Alison, who’s trying to come to terms with her newfound affection for the new “bad boy” in town, when her world is shaken by two very painful truths: one, her best friend, Izzy, is obsessed with the same guy – and, two, Izzy is dying. Al is determined to do everything in her power to make Izzy’s final days meaningful, and so she basically gives Sam to Izzy in a bizarre arrangement that sounds horrible in theory but is devastatingly kind and sad and heartfelt on paper. This book is sad as fuck, but will leave you feeling so warm and fuzzy you won’t know what to do with yourself. It’s one of my all-time favorites, even after rereading it probably close to a dozen times.
Why I chose it:
I chose Sharing Sam for this list because it’s short, heartwarming, and takes place in a beach town, so… duh?
How to Make a Wish – Ashley Herring Blake
How to Make a Wish is about seventeen-year-old Grace Glasser, whose life consists of the piano, her best friend, and, for the most part, chasing around her flaky and sometimes disastrous mother as she is dragged from one home to another. She thinks she’s doomed to spend the rest of her life keeping her mom out of trouble, with little time to do anything that Grace wants to do, until one night on the beach, she finds a beautiful girl – the newly orphaned friend of her best friend’s family, freshly moved in and still full of open wounds. With one teen mourning the loss of a mother who loved her, and the other teen craving love from a mother who barely sees her, the two form a magical friendship that turns to more.
Why I chose it:
This book is another one that takes place in a beach town, but the main reason I chose it is just because it’s so damned precious. The characters are a real delight, the bi rep is authentic and beautiful, and I just devoured every single page of this book. It felt to me like exactly the sort of read I’d want while laying out on the beach.
Everything, Everything – Nicola Yoon
Madeline is allergic to the world, and that makes being a typical seventeen-year-old girl pretty damn difficult. She is sequestered away in her home with her mother and her nurse, kept company primarily by her novels. Everything becomes a lot more difficult than she could have ever imagined it would be when a new family moves in next-door, and she finds herself falling in love with the mysterious Olly, who is determined to love her even if he can’t physically be near her.
Why I chose it:
This is just another really cute book that I loved to pieces. The characters are so adorable and wonderful, and the relationship between Madeline and Olly makes you want to grin from ear to ear. I know there have been some complaints that this book is problematic for people who suffer from invisible illnesses, and while I certainly cannot speak for anyone but myself, I suffer from invisible illnesses of my own and would still implore you to pick this one up for a fun summer read, because I think the good heavily outweighs the bad.
Tell Me Three Things – Julie Buxbaum
After the loss of her mother, Jessie’s life is knocked upside-down when her father moves her across the country to California to live with a woman she’s never met, with a new step-brother who wants nothing to do with her, and a high school that feels like she’s just stepped onto an alien planet. Everyone needs a guide, someone to give them the lay of the land, and that’s exactly what is offered to Jessie when she receives an anonymous email from Somebody/Nobody, extending an offer of friendship so long as she doesn’t mind not knowing who’s behind the other screen.
Why I chose it:
Though this book doesn’t take place in the summer (it’s during the school year, as the synopsis explains), something about it just felt hella summery to me. Maybe it was the fact that it was such a quick read (I knocked it out in one sitting, over the span of a couple of hours), or maybe it was just how damned fun and silly it was. The book never delves far enough into Jessie’s grief to make it what I’d consider a heavy read, and primarily focuses on the fun and flirty exchanges between Jessie and S/N.
Almost any of her books – Sarah Dessen
Sarah Dessen has so many great titles, and honestly, I’d say almost any of them fit this list, but I decided to highlight a couple of my favorites here: Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and Keeping the Moon. Each of these books follow the life of a different girl, each one unhappy in her home life (whether that’s due to a broken family, grief, or simply boredom with their circumstances), as situations bring her into a new friendship/family/relationship and she learns that life is so much more than what she’s made of it.
Why I chose it:
First of all, all of Dessen’s books (I think) take place in roughly the same area, which is always a beach town in North Carolina; if a quiet, quaint little beach town doesn’t scream “summer read”, I don’t know what does. They’re fun, enjoyable books with predictable plots and enjoyable characters. I wouldn’t say Dessen is some literary genius, but she has mastered the craft of fluffy adult contemporaries, and her titles are an insta-buy for me. She’s perfected the art of summer reads, and is by far the first author who comes to mind for me when someone asks for a “beach rec”. Note: this list does not include her title Dreamland, which is an amazing book but is about domestic violence and will fuck your shit up.