The best books I read in summer

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Today I’m joining Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy for a Quick lit link-up, where fellow readers share short and sweet reviews of the books they’ve read lately. Usually, it’s a monthly thing, but since this is my first time joining, I’ve decided to round up the best books I’ve read this summer. Despite it being quite busy with work, travel and a few important life changes, I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a few good reading sessions into my days and weekends. These were my favorites:

picnic_in_provence_1Elizabeth Bard: Picnic in Provence

I’ve read this before my big summer trip to Provence, in order to get some travel inspiration. But I got so much more out of this book! It’s a captivating story about how does it feel to start all over again…again!

I loved Bard’s first book, Lunch in Paris, and this one was equally funny, endearing and fascinating. After living in Paris for almost a decade, Bard decides to turn her life upside down once more and relocates her little family to a quaint Provencal village. Her recount of adventures that follow is delicious both figuratively and literally: the book is peppered with delicious Provencal recipes, each coming with its own story. I laughed at Elizabeth’s misadventures, empathized with her efforts to build a new life while trying to blend in, understood her struggles with cultural differences and let my mouth water all over her inspiring recipes.

I would recommend it to: Those who dream of changing their lives completely, those who fell under the Provencal charm, and those who love memoirs with recipes.

 

incorrigible-optimists_1Jean-Michel Guenassia: The incorrigible optimists club

I’m not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this is going to be one of the best books I’ve read in 2016. Set in Paris in the early 1960s, it follows the journey of Michel, a self-described consummate bookworm, towards adolescence. He grows up while his family is falling apart and his country is entangled in the Algerian war. Michel finds his way into a chess club filled with a slew of original characters – all refugees from Communism, all of them with stories that are nothing short of fascinating. It’s really impossible to describe this book in just a few lines: politics, philosophy, love, family ties, friendship, loss and war all blend into a sweeping coming-of-age tale. Most importantly, don’t let yourself be intimidated by its 640 pages – it truly reads like a charm and you’ll devour it before you’ll know what hit you 🙂

I would recommend it to: Those who are not intimidated by long, sweeping sagas and those who love their books with a side of realness and humanity.

 

elle_lui_1Marc Levy: Elle & Lui

I’ve already mentioned that Levy is one of my favorite French authors, and I’m always eager to discover his annual paperback offering. Mia is a famous British actor running away from her failing marriage. Paul is an architect-turned-writer, running away from his fame in the US. They are not supposed to fall in love, but when serendipity (and a little nudge from Paul’s friends) brings them together in Paris, they learn that friendship and love are divided by a very thin line that’s so easy to cross.

This was an easy, and a slightly predictable read, but very pleasant all the same.

I would recommend it to: Those who want to take a break from “serious reads”, those who believe in happy endings, and most importantly, to those who read in French, because there doesn’t seem to be an English translation available 🙂

 

last_good_man_1J. A. Kazinski: The last good man

In Jewish scripture, there is a legend: there are 36 good, righteous people on Earth. Every generation has them. Without knowing that they are the chosen ones, they protect us – without them, humanity would perish. Suddenly, these good people begin to die all over the globe, all of them wearing the same, strange death mark. Who is killing the good ones and who will be next? Those are the questions a Danish detective Niels Bentzon sets out to answer. Little by little he pieces together the puzzle of those far-flung deaths, only to come to the most astonishing conclusion.

I would recommend it to: The lovers of fast-faced page turners, those who love old legends.

 

nightmare_1Lars Kepler: The Nightmare

A drowned young woman is discovered on an abandoned boat, but her clothes are dry. The next day, a man is found hanging from a lamp inside a completely bare room. A political activist and her boyfriend go missing. And soon we learn that all these events are linked to something even more sinister, something that reaches the high levels of Swedish administration. This thriller gets a little bit slow from time to time, but it still manages to capture your attention and propels you, page after page, towards a surprising end that explains it all.

I would recommend it to: The fans of Stieg Larsson and the Nordic thrillers in general, and those who don’t like their thrillers too bloody and gruesome.

 

pride_prejudice_1Jane Austen: Pride and prejudice

I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to read this perennial classic. But it was definitely worth it – it was a pleasant departure from all those crimes, murders and sinister events depicted in the previous two books. I sympathized with Lizzy Bennett, laughed at her colorful and funny family, rooted for Mr. Darcy. And all that time I was thanking heavens that I’ve been living in a time and place where women get to be defined by so much more than just their family wealth and by their marriage.

I would recommend it to: The lovers of classics, those who want to take a break from the not always approachable world of modern fiction, and those who dream of a comfortable and easy life in marriage 🙂

 

shock_of_the_fall_1Nathan Filer: The shock of the fall

This was a strange, powerful and a truly original book. It tells the story of Matthew, struggling with a mental illness that’s been poisoning his entire life. It brings to life a family that has suffered too much, and a boy who finds a little bit of solace in putting his story on paper. I won’t give much more away about the plot. But the book is written in such an original way – it doesn’t follow a linear timeline, there are blurbs from past and future and it’s not always easy to follow Matt’s train of thoughts, but this book is definitely worth the effort. I’ve jotted down so many beautiful quotes, and the story has stayed with me long after I finished reading the last page.

I would recommend it to: Those who are not afraid of difficult themes, those who only read one book at a time (you really need to focus here) and those who want to stretch their empathy.

Now it’s your turn to tell me about the books you’ve read this summer. Which of them really stood out? Has any of them stayed with you even after you finished reading it?

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