July 17, 2020
Find Your One “Must Read” Book of Summer 2020!
Are you pondering what book to choose for your vacation or staycation?
Are you in limbo trying to decide what ONE great book to read this summer?
Do you ever wish someone would just TELL you what book to read?
Are you looking for a list of trusted book review bloggers?
Do you spend more time thinking about which book to pack for your vacation than packing the clothes? (oh…just me?)
If you only have time to read ONE more book before summer’s end, what would you choose?
This is the time of year when readers look for “beach reads.” This term is puzzling to me because I think any book you read at the beach or the pool is a beach or pool read (similar to any body at the beach is a beach body!). Furthermore, “beach read” means different things to different readers: some want easy reading/light/fluffy, some want escapist, some want romcom, some want thrillers/suspense/mystery, while others are looking for heavier or longer reads that they might have more time for in the summer. During the summer, I look for the same types of reads I look for all year long: something substantial, engaging, memorable, unputdownable, and thought-provoking. What is your ideal beach or pool read?
Some things bring joy to a blogger’s heart and this post is definitely at the top of the list!
I am thrilled to publish this post today! I contacted twelve experienced reviewers from a variety of geographical locations to ask them what they would recommend as their ONE “Not-to-be-Missed” Summer 2020 Recommendation. Today, I’m exceptionally excited to introduce you to twelve bloggers who chose ONE recommendation for YOU (listed in alphabetical order by blogger’s first name). Please take a look at their recommendation, check out their blog, and give them a follow!
I think you’ll enjoy the following “recent releases” recommendations that include some diversity and represent a mix of genres that will appeal to a variety of tastes (from nonfiction to historical fiction to books about literary characters to anti-racism to contemporary fiction to chick-lit to romcom to self-help to literary fiction to romance to science fiction to fantasy to “own voices”).
We hope at least one matches YOUR reading taste!
***Titles are Amazon affiliate links and full review links have been included.
Afoma (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) at Afoma Umesi recommends a favorite nonfiction.
In Afoma’s words:
In Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, licensed therapist Lori Gottlieb pulls back the curtain on the process of therapy while analyzing the lives of four of her clients and the way they relate to hers. As her clients grow through therapy, readers get a closer look at how therapy works and how similar all of our lives are.
“I LOVED this book, and I haven’t loved any piece of non-fiction this much in a while. Gottlieb’s writing is simple, but poignant; refreshing; and sharp. Her observations about life and the human psyche are astute and it is impossible to read this book without holding a mirror to our own lives and emotions. If you enjoy human psychology, therapy, or just beautiful, moving prose about the lives of real people, you’ll love Maybe You Should Talk to Someone.”
Ashley (Texas) at Ashes Books & Bobs recommends a compelling pioneer story.
In Ashley’s words:
“The word that comes to mind as I reflect on this book is: rich. The writing, the storytelling, the characters, the pacing, literally every facet of the book is exquisitely done. One of my favorite things about historical fiction is being sucked back in time as if I’m actually there myself. Though I love pioneering stories, I thought this tale might have a tendency to drag as slowly as the oxen pulling the wagons. Boy, was I wrong in my assumption! Where the Lost Wander had no lulls — I was sucked in as I read the very first page and was torn between eagerly reading and slowly savoring this book. It was one I didn’t want to end and I knew I would have the most epic of book hangovers after finishing.
I eagerly recommend all of Amy’s books to anyone and everyone, but this one is at the top of the stack.”
In Carla’s words:
“My summer must read is a feel-good second chance, small town romance. Beachside Beginnings by Sheila Roberts is the 4th book in the Moonlight Harbor series, but can definitely be read as a standalone story. This story shows how friendship can take a person who has been knocked down, and provide them with the support they need to move forward and have a second chance at life and love. One of the best things about this book is the pay it forward attitude that all the townspeople seem to have. If you enjoy a second chance romance, where the main character has to get back her self-confidence before she can move forward, then this is the book for you.” (TW: domestic abuse)
Davida (Israel) at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog recommends a favorite historical fiction of the year.
In Davida’s words:
“I’ve long been a fan of Maggie O’Farrell so when I heard she had a new book coming out, it was obvious that I’d want to read it. However, I wasn’t prepared for how much this book blew me away! Not only is O’Farrell in top form with her writing here, with a style that just sings off the page, but the story is very special. It is also a bit of a departure for her, being the most historical fiction work O’Farrell has ever written. In Hamnet, O’Farrell takes us back to the year 1580 to England’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the early life of Shakespeare – but this book isn’t about him, and in fact, his name is never even mentioned in the book. Of course, Hamnet (which can also be spelled Hamlet) was the only son of the Bard and his wife Agnes (usually known as Anne), who died at the age of 11, and O’Farrell tells the story of this family, with a focus on the events both before and after Hamnet’s death from the Black Death, all told through Agnes’ perspective. That also makes this a masterful work of women’s fiction (with the pandemic giving it an unexpected timely aspect as well)! I doubt that any other book will beat out this one for my favorite of 2020 (although one has come quite close). This novel was released in May in the UK, but it will only be available in the U.S. on July 21.”
Find Davida’s full review of Hamnet here.
In Jaymi’s words:
““Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore is a book about self-reflection and living in the moment and loving the people we meet along the way.
This unique story was fascinating and so engaging as we time travel with Oona through different ages and stages of her life. I loved the anticipation of wondering “when” she would wake up and where she would find herself. It’s important to enjoy the story and not worry too much about *why* Oona wakes up every January 1st at a different age in her life. Each “leap” she makes carries her physical body to a new age but her mental age IS chronological. (This is important!) The author makes it work and each year Oona builds on what she knows even as there are HUGE gaps and holes that she must figure out on her own. Some reviewers found it frustrating that she kept making the same mistakes. I was more forgiving because I remember making bad choices at 19, 20…and beyond! In the early leaps, Oona is understandably angry and upset and lonely and because she knows the year is finite, she makes questionable choices. I found this detail very believable coming from a rebellious young woman who didn’t ask for this life. There were several times when she just wanted to get through the year and not think too much about the consequences.
In the end, or is it the beginning…. Oona does mature and she grows and changes into the person she is meant to be, she just does it out of order!”
Jennifer (North Carolina) at Jennifer ~ Tar Heel Reader recommends compelling biographical historical fiction.
In Jennifer’s Words:
“I absolutely loved the story of the French star, Sarah Bernhardt. She was fighting for women before women’s activism had a name. She had a child out of wedlock, and kept him, as taboo as it was at the time, and not only did she parent him, she adored him. She was quirky, passionate, loud, brash, and she LIVED.
The First Actress is hist fic gold. I can’t tell you how emotional I felt when I finished this book. I was dreading the ending for a couple days, even when I was less than halfway through. I did not want to step out of Sarah’s world, and this book easily receives my highest recommendation.”
In Kayla’s words:
“Emily Henry’s romantic Beach Read offers all you hope to find during a coastal getaway. Packed with the flirtatious fun expected in a romantic comedy, Gus and January’s banter have you grinning constantly. Both authors facing deadlines and writer’s block, the former rivals unite in creating a challenge to finish their new books. Clever connections to classic movies, budding love, and a fun story setup keep you glued to Beach Read. To prove the story goes beyond the “everything is roses” layer, it explores deep topics as well. These issues allow character and relationship exploration that seal the book as a full picture of love and personal growth.”
(*includes a couple of steamy romance scenes)
In Kendra’s words:“The events of the past several weeks have exposed the devastating racial division in America, and many of us have been awakened to the need for change. Latasha Morrison—a leading voice for racial justice—believes that racial reconciliation and redemption are possible, and Be the Bridge is Morrison’s transformative guide to honest conversations about race. Through insightful, heartfelt storytelling and a radical commitment to the truth, Morrison leads readers through the painful but necessary steps of lament, confession, forgiveness and, ultimately, repentance and restoration. Morrison is a trustworthy and gracious leader in the challenging but necessary pursuit of exposing racial bias and dismantling systemic racism. This is a must-read for peacemakers seeking Gospel-centered justice and unity.”
In Kristin’s words:
“I went into The Subtweet not knowing what to expect, and I came out of the experience of reading it with a new perspective. This is a book about the intricacies and complexities of friendship, and how to navigate a friendship when both parties are competing for the spotlight. The media often pits women, especially women of color, against one another, and The Subtweet does an excellent job of shining a light on this phenomenon. The Subtweet brought up some important discussions about the lack of diversity within the music industry, and how women of color are often put into a position where their actions and decisions affect every other woman of color who is trying to make it in the industry. As the name of the book suggests, social media also has an important role in this story. It was a great reminder that once you put something on the internet, it is there forever and you can’t take it back. Neela and Rukmini have one of those friendships where you are not quite sure why they are friends to begin with, but it felt completely authentic and honest. There was some character growth, but I do wish that that was explored further- there is only so much that can be done in 220 pages! Something that makes this book unique and adds to the reading experience is that Vivek Shraya wrote and recorded the song “Every Song,” which is at the center of the story. It is brilliant and definitely worth listening to- I think that it will convince you to read this book!”
In Lynne’s words:
“If you like reading about strong and resilient women, this is the novel for you. Both women in “The Sea Gate” had many things in common despite their sixty+ year age difference.
The house, Chynalls, (Cornish for ‘the house on the cliff’), was almost a character onto itself. Imagine it, on a cliff overlooking a Cornish beach, complete with secret tunnels, and a colorful and precarious history. When reading this book, one can’t help but think of Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca.” The setting coupled with the one of the protagonist’s name (Rebecca/Becky) – how could you not?
The story set during the war years was vividly rendered and well researched. The present day story was also quite compelling, including themes of family secrets, blackmail, and elder abuse. With an ending that was both poignant and hopeful, it was an excellent conclusion to an excellent read.
Readers who enjoy the work of Rosamund Pilcher, Kate Morton, Harriet Evans, and the like will surely enjoy this book. I Loved it! Every minute of it! A sure contender for my 2020 Top Reads list.”
Nicki (Jersey, Channel Islands) at the Secret Library Book Blog recommends a book lover’s fantasy.
In Nicki’s words:
“This book is wonderful and has become my new all time favourite! Why? It really is a book lover’s dream! Full of literary characters who come to life because readers have connected with them in such a personal way. It’s full of brilliant quotes from the different characters, real and literary, and the descriptions of the literary characters in their scenarios are just wonderful. This book captured my imagination and constantly held it there for the two weeks I was reading it. Now you may ask me “Nicki if it’s your favourite book why didn’t you read it in one sitting or possibly two? Why did it take you a fortnight?” Well the simple reason is because I was enjoying it so much I didn’t want to rush it and leave the fantastic world that the author had built. I didn’t want to leave Rob and Charley Sutherland behind; I wanted to stay with them in Wellington, in New Zealand. I also didn’t want to leave the 5 Darcys, Sherlock Holmes, Charles Dickens, the White Witch, Heathcliff, Dorian Gray, Matilda Wormwood, and dare I say it Uriah Heep! Do you get the picture? If you do, you definitely need to read this book as you’ll get it and you’ll want to stay there, too.”
Tina (California) at Reading Between The Pages recommends thrilling historical fiction.
In Tina’s words:
“Code Name Hélène will undoubtedly make my top ten favorite books this year! It has it all – suspense, intrigue, romance, so much more! I absolutely love Hélène AKA Nancy. She is honest, brazen, gutsy, and persuasive. She speaks first and thinks later. This book is intense and addicting, I was so enthralled I could hardly bear to pull myself away from it. This story is the epitome of why I love historical fiction so much. Learning about people, places, and/or events that I had not heard of previously, even with fictional liberty taken, brings me so much joy!
This book was released in March and it immediately went right on my top ten books of the year, here we are four months later and it is still there.”
Last, making a perfect “baker’s dozen,” is a recommendation from me!
Carol (California) from Reading Ladies recommends her most compelling read of the year (so far!).
In Carol’s words:
“The Girl With the Louding Voice is a beacon of hope and encouragement for girls worldwide who are in similar circumstances! Life for a woman is not easy in Nigeria. Adunni’s mom plants in her spirit the thought of having a “voice.” Fourteen-year-old Adunni is determined to fight for her voice to be heard and for her future despite being sold as a third wife. Even when she runs away, she finds herself in another powerless position of servitude. Adunni is introduced to a more modern woman who befriends her and encourages her to keep hope alive and to think of herself as important and having value. Mom tells Adunni that education is her voice. Adunni’s goal is to go to primary, secondary, and university and to become a teacher because she doesn’t want any kind of a voice, she wants a Louding Voice.
Thoughtful themes include women’s rights, equal access to education, finding your voice, overcoming oppression, hope for the future, women as mentors/role models, and friendship….. similar to The Pearl That Broke its Shell, I Am Malala, and Amal Unbound. The Girl With the Louding Voice is memorable and by far the best book I’ve read this year and I encourage you not to miss it!”
Thank you to each blogger who participated in this post and for your ONE GREAT recommendation!
Readers, I hope you have enjoyed this collaborative post! I love that in our initial planning, we didn’t have one duplicate. The choices represent a variety of tastes and reading experiences and are as unique as the bloggers themselves. We hope you find one recommendation to match your reading taste!
Please share or pin this post so that others looking for ONE great read can hear about these recommendations! Let us know in the comments if you choose ONE of these books for your summer read! One of our greatest joys is hearing that you read one of our recommended books!
In The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, Mitch Albom says that “Everyone joins a band in this life.” In the noise of the World Wide Web, I have found my people (band)! Each of these bloggers has been a personal support, inspiration, and encouragement to me, and I encourage you to give them a follow!
Stay Tuned: On July 28th, I’ll be linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie
(even though we have 13 in our list of Summer Reads!)
Did you choose one of these books to add to your TBR this summer?
Happy Reading Book Buddies!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
Let’s Get Social!
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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.
Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.
Book covers and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.