Labor Day Reading Roundup

Though I’ve been busy working for my beach weekends and haven’t devoted quite as much time to this site as I had planned this summer, I have been quietly reading away, and have prepared an end-of-summer reading roundup for all of you before I take the blog back up a notch and start posting more regularly this fall [fingers crossed]. Without further ado, let’s get into it…

 

If you’re into intense coming-of-age stories or books about female friendship, try:

Marlena, Julie Buntin

When Kat moves to a small town in a remote area of Northern Michigan normally reserved for rich Detroiter’s summer homes, she is immediately taken with her neighbor, the mercurial and mesmerizing Marlena. We know from the outset of the book that Marlena is now dead, and its contents detail their friendship, and all of the events and figures that led to Marlena’s demise.

Narrated by Kat from the comfort of a stable marriage, steady job, and nice apartment over a decade later, the book is a powerful (and quotable—I underlined nearly every page) study of teenage girlhood, female friendship, family dynamics, and American poverty. Without spoiling too much, it was by the

 

If you’re easily distracted, but want to brag to your friends that you read a book over Labor Day weekend, try:

 

The People We Hate at the Wedding, Grant Ginder

The People We Hate at the Wedding follows two somewhat hapless siblings, Paul and Alice, as they travel to London, in the midst of respective serious relationship problems, to the wedding of their annoyingly perfect half-sister Eloise—until they discover that everything in her world is not quite as rosy as it seems.

I read this one over the Fourth of July, and it took me back to the beloved days where I would buy used copies of Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic books at my school fair for $5. It’s a frothy, fun beach read featuring glamorous people with glamorous problems, and evokes fond memories of the early 2000s chick-lit scene. I love me some Liane Moriarty, but sometimes you need something without even a hint of darkness, and, in this regard, Ginder delivers.

 

If you low-key read the entire Twilight series, try:

 

The Light We Lost, Jill Santopolo

 

In The Light We Lost, Lucy and Gabe meet on September 11, 2001, as seniors at Columbia University. Months later, they strike up an intense and volatile relationship. Whether together or not, their paths are constantly crossing, and both of them regularly flirt with danger: Lucy endangering her marriage, Gabe his life.

The book, while almost compulsively readable, was frequently cringe-worthy—I’m not one for sappy romances, and this falls squarely into that category. Also, personal preference, but I hated all the names of the characters (Darren? Do people still name their children that?)…but, putting aside my prejudices, I must admit this is the perfect book to grab for a long day at the beach. You just might finish it in one sitting. Also, I’m willing to bet money that it becomes a big budget movie, so get ahead of your friends and read it before its release.

 

For a quick read that’s still ‘Literary,’ try:

 

Goodbye, Vitamin, Rachel Khong

 

As per usual, I was swayed by this book’s stunning cover, and I purchased it without even reading the blurb *shrug emoji*. The book follows Rachel, recently separated from her fiancé—who has already moved on with someone else, as she moves back into her parents’ house to help her mother care for her father as he succumbs to dementia.

Ruminating in the failure of her own relationship, Rachel is certain her parents will validate her once-held belief that true love does exist—but instead, she is met with the reality that her seemingly perfect marriage is not at all what it once seemed. It’s a slim, sad volume—you can easily devour it in a day.

 

 

For fans of The Giver [or, for a more relevant reference, The Hunger Games]

 

 

The Answers, Catherine Lacey

 

I stumbled upon The Answers via Belletrist’s Instagram, and was immediately intrigued by the description, which billed the book as a sort of dystopian study on pop culture. The Answers charts the progress of “The Girlfriend Experiment” or “GX”—a vanity project spearheaded by an incredibly famous actor (in the book, his name is Kurt Sky, but I’m fairly certain he was based on either Brad Pitt or Leo), in which he hires different girls to act as different girlfriends to him (the maternal girlfriend, emotional girlfriend, intellectual girlfriend, anger girlfriend, and, naturally, a team of intimacy girlfriends) in hopes of reinventing the relationship.

Mary, flat broke due to a bout of chronic pain treatments, and enticed by the experiment’s generous payment plan, takes on the role of the “Emotional Girlfriend”—and ends up far more entangled in Kurt’s web than she ever intended. It’s an undoubtedly fascinating read, but there are quite a few gratuitous characters—introduced for a chapter and abruptly discarded, and it could’ve benefited from a bit more editing.

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