My 2020 Summer Reading Recommendations

2020 has been quite a year to say the (very) least, and while I like to stay knowledgeable about all of the mayhem so I can make informed decisions about whether or not I should send my kids to daycare or whether or not I can see my parents, this is also the time for very necessary distraction. At the beginning of this pandemic, I was utterly consumed with watching the daily updates from Mike Dewine and Andy Beshear every single day, and it was just too much. I couldn’t stop thinking about the pandemic, which I know was a problem for a lot of us. Now as the world begins to reopen and we all navigate this new normal we’re living in, there’s bound to be some anxiety that comes along with it, and I’ve found reading is a great way to escape that. With cancelled vacations and a lot of pools not opening fully for a while (our pool isn’t allowing any child under the age of 9 in until further notice, which basically means it’s still closed for me!) we may not be reading the way we want to, but at least I can still sit on my deck with with a margarita while the kids run through the sprinkler.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to fit in more leisure reading (as an English teacher, I’m constantly reading for work), and I’m already 21 books in for 2020. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love hearing book recommendations from friends and family and even strangers. Every time I finish a book, I tell my husband (who is also an avid reader) that the worst part of finishing a book is the process of finding a new one to read- off to the Goodreads lists I go. I try to quickly read some reviews and choose one, but it’s never that easy and takes way longer than I want it to. When I finish one book, and have another ready in my queue, it’s such a good feeling. So I thought I would share some of the books I’ve read so far in 2020 (some I loved and some I hated- eh hated is a strong word- would not recommend…) in the hopes that maybe I can supply you with a fun summer reading list, and hopefully you can supply me with a few titles I haven’t read yet!

So let me tell you about my process for picking out books really quickly- THERE IS NO PROCESS, and it drives me insane as the Type A–have an organized method and bulleted list for everything– person that I am. Most of the time, the next book I read literally just depends on what I can get at the library, whether they have it in stock or my two month hold is finallllllly ready. Also, I’m pretty partial to nonfiction which is hilarious because as a bookworm kid and teen, I was the exact opposite, but I love knowing that what I read actually happened– it makes me more invested, engaged, whatever you want to call it. With that being said, I do read fiction from time to time, but it’s got to be a page turner. Another thing to note about my current preferences, I’m pretty partial to women writers these days. I can relate to them, and women rock, enough said.

Without further ado, here are my 2020 Summer Reading Recommendations:

Hardcover Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered : The Definitive How-To Guide Book
  1. Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered

By: Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

The authors of this book actually have a podcast about true crime that I’ve never listened to and hadn’t even heard of prior to reading, but rest assured you don’t have to be familiar to read this. I absolutely loved this book! It was so funny and entertaining and relatable as a woman on so many levels. Flipping back and forth between the perspectives of both authors kept me engaged the entire time and allowed me to feel like I knew both of them on a personal level. Umm, can we be friends Karen and Georgia?

No Happy Endings: A Memoir: McInerny, Nora: 9780062792402: Amazon ...
  1. No Happy Endings

By: Nora McInerney

Okay, so you might think that a memoir by a recently widowed 30-something mom of a toddler who lost her husband to brain cancer would be depressing, but this is just the opposite. It’s inspiring and vibrant and hope-filled and I couldn’t stop reading once I started. As soon as I finished, I got her next book It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too), and while there was some overlap with this book, I loved it too. I recommend this to anyone who is going through some hard shit and needs some reassurance that it’s going to be okay (which I’m pretty sure is all of us right now!).

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3. This Will Only Hurt a Litte

By: Busy Phillips

Busy Phillips has no filter whatsoever, and I love that about this book. She tells all- the good, the bad, and the ugly, with no apologies. This book was a fun read, and the info she spills about the Dawson’s Creek set is juicy (did anyone else love this show as much as I did?! Joey and Pacey 4ever <3).

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4. Open Book

By: Jessica Simpson

Just like Busy sent me into an early 2000s flashback that had me missing New Found Glory and the WB and Myspace, Jessica did the same. The split from Nick, the love affair with John Mayer, it’s all there. For the most part, I really liked it (though it did get a little too lengthy at times), this was what I would consider the perfect afternoon pool/beach read.

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5. Dad is Fat

By: Jim Gaffigan

If you’re a parent, this is a must read. Absolutely hilarious and a very true depiction of the nitty gritty details of parenting. I found myself talking to the book… “Oh yeah, you know that’s right…” “He’s not lying!” “MMMHMMM”. My husband read this one and loved it as well. 

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6. Where the Crawdads Sing

By: Delia Owens

This one is not my usual style for a leisure read, but I read it because it has rave reviews, spent an exorbitant amount of time at the top of the bestseller lists, and it’s the kind of novel I would teach to my students. But, it did not disappoint! Get a few chapters in before you make any judgements, and I guarantee you won’t be able to stop.  

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

7. Three Women

By: Lisa Taddeo

Okay so this book is controversial and for mature audiences only- think fifty shades of gray-ish? Had no idea what I was getting into, but the stories of the women featured in this book were so taboo and shocking that I could not stop reading. You’ll see a lot of mixed reviews online, but I suggest reading it for yourself and forming your own opinion.

P.S. I Still Love You

8. P.S. I Still Love You

By: Jenny Han

I read the first book in the series last year, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. This is the second in the series, and they have become a guilty pleasure. I love the characters and the story, and I’m sure I’ll get to the final installment later this year. Also, as a plus, you can reward yourself by watching the movie version on Netflix (which I’ve yet to do because I’m not really a movie person, but I’ve heard they are great!).

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A true (as told to me) story ...

9. Nobody Will Tell You This But Me

By: Bess Kalb

Though this was a quick read, it was a really beautiful remembrance of someone lost, told from the perspective of the author’s grandmother. I laughed, I cried, and I thought about my own very opinionated and headstrong great grandmother the entire time. 

10. I’m Fine… And Other Lies

By: Whitney Cummings

I kind of forgot she existed, though I remember liking her sitcom back in the day. I liked that the stories she told were pretty real, some were relatable, and she wasn’t trying too hard to get a laugh like a lot of comedians do when they write a book. 

Okay, so now I feel it is also my duty to give you a brief “Don’t Waste Your Time” List. Here are some books I read this year that didn’t live up to the hype, and I wouldn’t bother with:

  • #IMomSoHard

By: Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley

This was really boring, tried to be funny but most of the time wasn’t, and lacked a real story to engage me. 

  • Food

By: Jim Gaffigan

This really disappointed me because after reading Dad is Fat, I thought I would love this one too, but it was not good! I was hoping it would be funny like the last book but I had to force myself to finish it.

  • I Miss You When I Blink

By: Mary Laura Philpott

Okay, I really wanted this one to be good, and maybe it’s because the author is obviously very privileged, but she was incredibly hard to relate to as a woman and mother. Also, her explanation of the title made absolutely no sense- I was definitely expecting something different. 

  • Jog On

By: Bella Mackie

As an avid runner, I love reading books about running- doesn’t matter if you’re writing as a pro or a beginner who is tackling a couch to 5k, I love reading about running. Unfortunately, I’ve read all the good ones and was excited to see one I haven’t read. This book read like a bad research paper and was not really about running at all. Don’t bother.

Now I need some recommendations from you! What have you read recently that I should I add to my summer reading list? AND What books have you read that were utter duds? Let me know in the comments!

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