I have always enjoyed reading, but I would never have considered myself an avid reader. After having my two kids, I found that reading became a way for me to unwind, expose myself to different cultures and take a break. In 2018 I was introduced to a corner of Instagram dubbed “Bookstagram.” After some pep talks from friends, I decided to start an account and see what happens. Now two years later, I’m at a place that I never envisioned when I posted my first very awkward picture of a stack of books.
In 2019 I read 119 books, traveled to New York City for a book conference and have built genuine relationships with authors, publishers and other bookstagrammers. My account has become a creative outlet where I try not to be too serious (which I hope is clear based on my Instagram handle—@DowntoGettheFictionOn) because let’s be real—I’m posting pictures of books! If you visit my page, you’ll find I tend to read a lot of contemporary fiction, thrillers and have even started to get a little sappy with contemporary romance. And I’m not afraid to share an unpopular opinion if a book doesn’t work for me. One thing I’ve learned is to try different genres. If you don’t typically love YA, maybe you’ve not found the right book, but don’t forget reading is supposed to be fun. All of the books I’m recommending, I’ve read and think are great additions to your summer reading lists.
YOUNG ADULT (YA)
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn (release date July 21, 2020)
Luke co-hosts a podcast and is gifted musically but is in the shadow of his boisterous twin brother/co-host, Cullen, and his famous former punk rock father, Charles. Vada is a quirky music lover who works at the dive bar where the Greenly Twins record. Luke and Vada form a friendship that leaves them each secretly hoping for more. This is a charming story that’s bound to have you cheering for Luke and Vada. It’s te perfect book for music lovers, so get ready to add to your Spotify playlists.
The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border by Rosayra Pablo Cruz, Julie Schwietart Collazo
The true story of two women entrenched in the fight at the U.S. border. Rosayra is a mother who braved the unrelenting and dangerous journey from Guatemala to keep her two sons alive. Instead of asylum, they are separated due to the zero-tolerance policy. Julie is a wife and mother in New York City who started a grassroots movement to help families separated at the border. This is an eye-opening story filled with grit and faith and is a wonderful reminder about the power we hold to stand up to injustices.
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
It’s 1982, and Oona is about to celebrate the new year by turning 19. Filled with excitement and love, she’s shocked when she wakes up in what should be 1983 as a 51-year-old living in 2015. Traveling through her life in two different ages, Oona experiences her life in a truly magical fashion. Easily one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2020, Oona Out of Order is a unique and captivating story that’s filled with depth and will leave you wanting more time with these characters.
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Twins, Desire and Stella, grew up inseparable. One evening they leave their small southern black community, and their lives change forever. Stella moves forward by passing as a white woman while constantly looking over her shoulder to outrun her past. Years later, Desire returns home, never forgetting the sister who moved on without her. This is a stunning, engrossing and unforgettable story about family, identity, and how the choices we make can shape future generations. An instant favorite that left me in awe and will stay with me for a long time!
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Patricia is an unfulfilled southern housewife in the 1990s whose excitement is her book club that has ditched classics in lieu of true crime. When a mysterious man moves across the street, Patricia strikes up an unlikely friendship with this dashing neighbor. However, as children go missing on the other side of town Patricia begins to question who he really is. This book is a page turner that’s both campy and gory with a touch of southern sass. If you loved 1990s horror movies, this is the book for you.
The Swap by Robyn Harding
Freya is a charismatic beauty who leaves a sparkle on those around her. When Low and Jamie (who each have battled with feelings of isolation) meet Freya their lives suddenly begin to feel more fulfilled as they fall for her charms. Little do they know that a friendship with Freya will change their lives forever. Moody, provocative, and entertaining, this book hooked me from the first chapter. If you love a book with dark and flawed characters that will be hard to put down, you will love reading The Swap.