Category Archives: around the world in 80 books

Around the World in 80 Books: Jamaica

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand, China, Canada
$2.75- Late fees on the book for Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England, Portugal, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan, Autism in the USA
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country, Japan
$0- Paid review on an interesting read: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid
______________________________________

Grand Total: $6.73

Today’s book also came from the library, and I returned it on time without late fees.

I’m a winner.

Jamaica

A Brief History of Seven Killings

This book, recommended by Jana of Jana Says, was intense.

I can’t say it wasn’t well-written.

It was.

I can’t say it wasn’t an important read.

It was.

But it was a difficult read. Revolving around the assassination attempt on Bob Marley, this book took you deep into the community of his youth. Which was violent. And disturbing.

Murder. Rape. Other violence. All of it extremely graphic.

The way I feel about the experience is a lot like reading a Chuck Palahniuk novel: I can’t deny the author is talented. But the experience was so jarring that I never, ever want to pick up another one of his books.

If you’ve got thicker skin than me, it’s a beautifully executed piece of work. If you don’t, though, it might be worth staying away.

Since I’m allowed to do Adulting Reads out of order, I’m using this one as my book based on a historical event, and it’s number 26/80 for the Around the World in 80 Books challenge.

On Deck Man's Search for Meaning

I’m not sure if there could be two books with more different endings. Frankl himself survived the concentration camps of the Holocaust, but from what I understand, he spent the rest of his life helping others find meaning in their suffering without comparative qualifiers.

Pretty excited to read this one. After the James book, I need a little hope.

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing
Australia: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson recommended by Aaron from When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka
Romania: Anything by Andre Codrescu recommended by Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies
Mali: Monique and the Mango Rains recommended by Rebecca from Stapler Confessions
Croatia: Girl at War by Sara Novi recommened by Erin from TexErin-In-Sydneyland
India: Malguid Days by R.K. Narayan recommended by Michael from Stretch a Dime (I’m giving up my other India read–I just couldn’t get through it. Excited to check out Michael’s recommendation.)

Around the World in 80 Books: Canada

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand, China
$2.75- Late fees on the book for Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England, Portugal, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan, Autism in the USA
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country, Japan
$0- Paid review on an interesting read: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid
______________________________________

Grand Total: $6.73

Today’s book also came from the library, so we get to keep that total where it is.

Gold star.

Canada

The Dog Who Wouldn't Be

Viewing via email? Click here to view the title.

My Canada book, recommended by Messy Money, has been on my list since the beginning. I thought it would be a children’s book–a classic, for sure, but written for a young audience. Much like Because of Winn-Dixie.

I was so convinced of this that when I picked it up from the library, I decided to start reading it with my child at bedtime. It’s not particularly thick, so we’d read until they passed out every single night. Bedtime had a new lure of excitement as we’d wonder what would happen in the “dog book” tonight.

As we read, I realized that while Mowat was a child in the story, it wasn’t necessarily a book written for children. I had almost no reservations reading it to my kid, but we did have to stop a lot to explain what happened.

Mowat writes about even the most mundane things with such poetry that he made me care about things I don’t normally care about. Like attempting to sail a boat down a “creek” created by sewage drain off. Or washing a dog. Or, to be honest, hunting.

The book itself is akin to a Laura Ingalls Wilder tome, except Mowat doesn’t seem to mind if his robust vocabulary shows–even if it’s challenging to the reader. Set largely in depression-era Saskatoon, it chronicles his childhood and family relationships through the lens of the life of the dog who accompanied him for much of it.

At the end, somewhat predictably but still sadly and in an unexpected way, the dog dies.

This was the part I was worried the most about with my child. After all, we lost a family pet ourselves less than a year ago.

Far from being devastated, they rolled over and asked me, “What pet is Farley going to get next?”

The kid wanted a sequel.

I’m not sure if I need to review mortality with my kiddos or if a loss young in life calloused them. Or, perhaps, the memory of the loss is there, but they’re so young that the memory of the actual companion has faded–and with it, the visceral part of the grief.

Regardless, we absolutely loved this book. Its style was unexpected and endeared me to Mowat’s writing. He’s definitely one of the authors I’ll be coming back to after this challenge is over.

Also, since it was a memoir of sorts, it counted towards this month’s Adulting Read.

On Deck A Brief History of Seven Killings

I so badly wanted to have this one done and review this month, but, alas, I have about 200 pages left. You’ll just have to wait until March to hear about Jamaica!

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
Jamaica: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James recommended by Jana of Jana Says
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing
Australia: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson recommended by Aaron from When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka
Romania: Anything by Andre Codrescu recommended by Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies
Mali: Monique and the Mango Rains recommended by Rebecca from Stapler Confessions
Croatia: Girl at War by Sara Novi recommened by Erin from TexErin-In-Sydneyland

Around the World in 80 Books: China

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand
$2.75- Late fees on the book for Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England, Portugal, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan, Autism in the USA
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country, Japan
$0- Paid review on an interesting read: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid
______________________________________

Grand Total: $6.73

Today’s book came from the library, so the total stays the same! Score!

I also wanted to let you guys know about a new challenge I’m doing called Adulting Reads. There is a theme for each month, so I’ll be choosing some books from diverse authors across the world that match the theme each month when possible.

This month’s theme was politics or current events. While today’s pick is a few years old, it’s more current than I’ve ever been on China and definitely covers a lot of political background I was otherwise unfamiliar with.

If you want to join us in February, you can join and find more info here. The next theme is memoirs.

China

Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China

Viewing in email? Click here to view the title.

Like I said, I had a very limited knowledge of modern Chinese history. I had read and loved
Now the Hell Will Start
years ago, but that really taught me more about why the US was in China during WWII and what we did–particularly within the context of African-American regiments.

So this was different. In it, Chang follows the life of two migrant workers over the course of a few years in the mid to late 2000’s. She also covers her own family’s history as essential refugees and emigrants during and after the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong, which happened from 1966-1976.

Both were extremely interesting, but my biggest complaint about this book is that it should have been two. She tried to tie the lives of these girls together with her own family history, but it was a bit of a stretch. It led to her jumping around between the narratives which was jarring and confusing at times.

But when it comes down to it, I would have read both books had they been independently written.

The Transient Lives of Migrant Workers in China

The migrant worker sections of the book took place largely in Dongguan, which is an immense manufacturing city. Its rise, and the rise of similar though mostly smaller cities that facilitate the same ends, has completely upended traditional Chinese values.

While eldest sons are traditionally the empowered ones in a family, they are also the inheritors. So they by and large stay home on family farms. Daughters, on the other hand, have a lot more freedom to go to the cities and pursue their own independence.

Because there wasn’t a whole lot of rural enforcement for the one child policy, there are younger sons go out to the cities, too.

From Chang’s own words:

The continuing link to a family farm has stabilized China in an age of mass migration. Its cities have not spawned the shantytown slums of so much of the developing world, because the migrant who fails in the city can always return home and find someone there.

It’s interesting because through the young women that Chang follows, you can see how both their individual lives and the identity of the nation are changing so quickly that values and world views are very much in flux.

I picked out some quotes to show what I mean:

If other people don’t understand you yet, your modesty would be seen not as a sign of virtue but of incompetence.

That one Chang pulled from Square and Round which is a hugely popular Chinese self-help book. It’s pertinent because it shows how old values, such as modesty, are being rethought and in some cases placed on the other side of the line of morality.

As the migrant workers explore their own values, they shared some sentiments I wasn’t in love with (not that my approval is a measure of validity), and others that spoke to me deeply.

From a young woman named Min:

A person cannot grow up through happiness. Happiness makes a person shallow. It is only through suffering that we grow up, transform, and come to a better understanding of life!

While that sucks, it’s also true. And a very healthy way to look at change and adversity.

Another came from a woman named Chunming, who was perpetually looking to improve herself and her life. She saw huge amounts of wealth in her life, interspersed between periods of struggle.

Before she ended up pursuing a business of her own, she went back and forth on the idea. This argument against the idea struck me as poignant:

My friends, the ones who are all bosses of their own trading companies, are trying to talk me into starting my own company. They make twenty or thirty thousand yuan a month. But if I did that, my life would be just about making money. I want to keep raising the quality of my life. I want to find new kinds of happiness.

When I jumped to self-employment, that was something I struggled with myself. I quickly learned it’s all about setting healthy boundaries. Well, that and hella good budgeting.

After I had set this book down, I picked up a picture book with my kids. We flipped to the last page, and in some type of serendipity saw that the book had been made in, of all places, Dongguan. Though perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising given the scale of manufacturing in the city. We probably use multiple things made there everyday.

factory girls china

The Cultural Revolution

Then there was the portion with her family history, which was super interesting. Her grandfather was arguably one of the first casualties of the war between old and new China. The rest of her family, including her father, went to Taiwan just before things started getting super crazy with the Cultural Revolution, and he and his siblings emigrated from there to American in order to get their education and start a new life.

The Cultural Revolution was something I wasn’t overly familiar with. Essentially, as power shifted, there was a rebellion against all things old, including a time-honored reverence for education. A period of anti-intellectualism was born, and, along with it, a dark period of Chinese history. So dark, in fact, that many Chinese people won’t talk about it today. It’s easier to let it go than to obsess over the pain.

Some of Chang’s uncles and other relatives stayed behind and were sent to work camps because they were not only highly educated, but also academics. Despite staying out of allegiance to communism, they were stripped of their dignity and a decent portion of their lives.

Was it a frustrating read? Yes, but only because of the narrative’s construction. If you could get over the fact that transitions were anything but smooth, the content itself was well worth picking up the book.

I’ll end with one of the more thought-provoking old, Chinese values that blew my Western mind:

In traditional Chinese society, maintaining harmony with others was the key to living in the world. The moral compass was not necessarily right or wrong; it was your relationship with the people around you.

On Deck

The Dog Who Wouldn't BeA Brief History of Seven Killings

I know I said I was reading my India book next, but that one’s on my back burner for now. I’m currently reading The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be (my Canada selection) with my kiddo at bed time. I know it’s building their vocabulary because it’s building mine!

The other one, my Jamaican pick, is decidedly a book I would never read with my children ever. Expertly written, but…we’ll get into it next time. After I’ve finished reading. 🙂

 

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:

Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
Jamaica: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James recommended by Jana of Jana Says
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing
Australia: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson recommended by Aaron from When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka
Romania: Anything by Andre Codrescu recommended by Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies
Mali: Monique and the Mango Rains recommended by Rebecca from Stapler Confessions
Croatia: Girl at War by Sara Novi recommened by Erin from TexErin-In-Sydneyland

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Femme Frugality and happy reading!*

Around the World in 80 Books: Autism in America

Welcome to the next installment in my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge! It’s exactly what it sounds like: I’m trying to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures around the world, and to add a frugal spin, I’m trying to do it all for under $20.

Here’s my running tally so far:
$0- Library books: Russia, Norway, Sweden, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Spain, Nigeria, New Zealand
$2.75- Late fees on the book for Italy
$0- Free eBooks: Scotland, England, Portugal, Cyprus, Albania, Montenegro, Mongolia
$0- Gift: Turkey, Pakistan
$0- Won in a Giveaway: Jerusalem
$1.99- eBook: Basque Country, Japan
$0- Paid review on an interesting read: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid
______________________________________

Grand Total: $6.73

Holy, moly. It’s been quite a while since I did one of these posts. I swear I’ve been reading. They just haven’t been books that qualified for this challenge.

Today’s book isn’t from a foreign land, either. It is, however, a look into understanding people who are different from me. Which totally qualifies it for this challenge.

Also, it was a gift. So no money added to the total!

Autism in the USA

The Way I See It: A Personal Look at Autism & Asperger's: 32 New Subject Revised & Expanded

Viewing in email? Click here to view the title.

With one in every sixty-eight kids being diagnosed with autism, it’s extremely likely that this “disorder” has touched your life. Maybe it’s your kid. Maybe it’s your uncle. Maybe it’s your best friend’s niece.

But odds are, you know someone. Autism, though, makes it really hard to know someone in the traditional way that we’re used to socializing with people. It causes neural differences, changing the way that those with autism perceive and process the world. That can range anywhere from being a little socially awkward all the way to not being able to talk or engage with the world on any level whatsoever.

That’s why this book was so riveting for me. Temple Grandin has autism herself. She was diagnosed back before they removed the distinction between Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. But today she’s at the head of a very specific field in engineering for cattle ranchers and devotes a lot of time teaching parents of children with autism about how they may process the world so that they can better educate and raise them.

Educating and Socializing Different Types of Learners

Included in that is thought patterns—for example, Grandin describes her native language as pictures, and groups herself with visual learners. There are two other groups of learners within the spectrum according to Grandin, and she goes into the best teaching methods for all three.

Sensory Processing Issues

I have literally read books about occupational therapy. I’ve always come out still unsure of what, exactly, it did to help with sensory processing issues, or what those issues even were.

Grandin is phenomenal at explaining the same exact thing. I feel like this is the first time I can really understand what it means to organize neurons and how the therapy helps. I’m not going to butcher it here—go read the book yourself. It’s worth it.

The Far End of the Spectrum

In this specific edition, she also talks about people on the far end of the spectrum. The ones who are unable to engage in the world. What she found was incredible. These are individuals who typically have such extreme sensory processing problems that the world fades in and out.

Auditory processing disorder is when you can hear, but you can’t make sense of what you’re hearing. Visual processing disorder is when you can see, but it’s hard to make sense of what you’re seeing. You might see a shape, but not be able to recognize its color, or visa versa. Another thing that can happen is that one second you’ll be focusing just fine, but the next the world falls apart, looking more like a mosaic or spin art than real life.

How do we know this if these individuals can’t engage with the world? Recently, a few have been able to, at least in short spurts. Grandin interviewed a couple of them and recommended books that they have written about their own experiences. They do this through keyboards—I’m assuming something like an iPad.

Grandin was shocked that in the interviews she conducted, these individuals seemed to have more social skills than she did—they just couldn’t express them. They had a whole lot going on inside their heads, but without modern technology….

It was mind blowing. I really want to go read some of their books.

…Other…Parts of the Book

Keeping in mind that autism is a spectrum, and that Grandin is just one person on it, I would caution that not all of her opinions should be taken as gospel. There is a lot of research involved in the book, but when you come up against an opinion keep in mind that it does not represent the opinion of everyone on the spectrum. It should be taken with more consideration than that of a neurotypical person, but it’s important to remember that there is an increasing number of voices out there from the spectrum that we can also turn to.

Mad kudos to her for being one of the first, though.

A couple things I didn’t enjoy reading: there was one section where she broke down cognitive processing into two parts. These two parts were ascribed male and female genders. As a woman who grew up with a mathematical mind, I didn’t appreciate it.

Plus, the whole right brain/left brain, girl brain/boy brain thing is played out. Science is discovering that the left and right brain interact with each other far more than we used to think. And the way we socialize and ascribe gender norms to our children has nothing to do with specific thought processes. It has to do with our culture.

Also there was a chapter with a very long diatribe about a yeast infection that i just wanted to end.

I’ll deal with it, though, for all of the insights I gained in other sections of the book. Highly, highly recommend this read so you can understand those people in your life who process the world differently.

On Deck

Autobiography of a YogiIf I’m honest, this book is the reason it’s been so long since I’ve done one of these posts. That doesn’t mean it’s bad; it’s just taking me a long while to get through it. Tiny print. Lots of footnotes. Lots of pages. I’ve found myself deviating from it more than once. Also, I lost it for a little while when we got home from the beach.

But finishing it is a new goal.

Have a recommendation for what I should read next? Leave it in the comments! Here’s what’s already in my queue:

Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Iceland: Scarcity in Excess by Arna Mathiesen & Thomas Forget
Sudan: The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih recommended by Kate Wilson
Kenya: Out of Africa by Karen Blixen recommended by Christine from The Wallet Diet
China: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang
Ethiopia: The God Who Begat a Jakal by Nega Mezlekia recommended by Based On a True Story
French Antilles: Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Conde recommended by Based on A True Story
Suriname: The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod recommended by Based On A True Story
Costa Rica: The Ticos: Culture and Social Change in Costa Rica
France: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr recommended by Our Next Life
Germany: In the Garden of Beasts or Devil in the White City by Erik Larson recommended by Emi from AIP Around the World
Haiti: All Souls Rising by Madison Smartt Bell recommended by Tre from House of Tre
Jamaica: A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James recommended by Jana of Jana Says
South Africa: Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton recommended by Emily from The John & Jane Doe Guide to Money & Investing
Australia: In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson recommended by Aaron from When Life Gives You Lemons, Add Vodka
Romania: Anything by Andre Codrescu recommended by Abigail from I Pick Up Pennies
Mali: Monique and the Mango Rains recommended by Rebecca from Stapler Confessions
Croatia: Girl at War by Sara Novi recommened by Erin from TexErin-In-Sydneyland


It’s back! Massive #SummerReading #Giveaway

I’m so glad this giveaway is becoming an annual thing! If you’ve been following along my Around the World in 80 Books Challenge, you’ll know why I join some of my favorite bloggers every year to bring it to you.  I’m all about reading for fun, for education, for expansion of the mind.  But I’m also about doing it frugally.  This giveaway should help you do just that with eleven fab titles AND a $225 Amazon gift card!

Interested in my full review of my recommendation? (I’m #11 on the list.) Check it out here.

What’s that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it’s officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it’s time to dig into that summer reading list!

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all the hot summer reads are? No sweat! We’ve got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list.

Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. I know, it’s insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles.

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it!

  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn’t hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his “Scientology arranged and groomed” girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn’t put it down!
  2. The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn’t without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book–loss, romance, mystery–all peppered with humor and the format–each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry’s favorite books–was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.
  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it’s no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms) A great novel with a fresh, funny voice guiding it, this book tackles the classic struggle of moms trying to have it all and stuck with us to the point of recommending it to others long after we turned the last page.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another‘s review on Amazon: “This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author’s writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won’t find talk of anyone’s blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure–and I do mean pleasure–of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry.”
  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another’s hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare’s Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life – everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book’s spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins, New York Times best seller and 2015 National Book Award nominee). Sarah Cottrell of The Huffington Post calls it “one literary ride you do not want to miss!” Reader Claris explains why everyone should read Not Without My Father in her Amazon review: “Andra really made me stop and think how important each moment in life is. If we live in each moment – really LIVE – we won’t be as likely to miss making that moment an important memory. I expected to read a story about a memorable walk, but it turned into a thought-provoking quest to truly focus on the wonderful family and friends that I have and not miss making memories with them.”
  11. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you’ve ever known a kid that doesn’t seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi’s story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan’s media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  12. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  13. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  14. What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me – I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  15. Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl’s bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  16. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people – some connected, some seemingly out of place – whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard on a foggy August night.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  18. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  19. The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I’m taken by Amazon’s description of the book,Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration.” You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can’t wait to dig in!
  20. The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon’s description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: “Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two.”

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!

Now that you’ve got the whole list, I know you’re dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don’t forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard!

Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list–or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET.

Here’s to a summer of fab books, friends! And as always, happy reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin’s Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard–because we love Amazon and we love you 😉 ****

Second graphic credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:18594985, copyright:peshkova

Horizontal line of books in last graphic: depositphotos, image ID:6984753, copyright:aboikis
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