Since I was in high school, Summer is when I did the bulk of my reading. Having endless days where I could lounge about and do pretty much whatever I wanted was pure bliss.
Fast forward a few years later and while I no longer have that much freedom, I still read a ton of books during the summer months.
Here’s the ultimate Summer 2016 reading list; from Beverly Jenkins to Jamaica Kincaid, it’s the only reading guide you’ll need this year.
While all of these books aren’t new releases, they’re ones we need to read while traveling, lounging on the beach, on the way to work, or relaxing in our homes this summer.
Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid (1990)
I am actively trying to read more books by Caribbean authors and one person I’ll be reading a lot of this summer is Jamaica Kincaid. I read Lucy years ago but it’s time to refresh my memory and dive into some of her other critically acclaimed work.
“Lucy, a teenage girl from the West Indies, comes to North America to work as an au pair for Lewis and Mariah and their four children. Lewis and Mariah are a thrice-blessed couple–handsome, rich, and seemingly happy. Yet, almost at once, Lucy begins to notice cracks in their beautiful facade. With mingled anger and compassion, Lucy scrutinizes the assumptions and verities of her employers’ world and compares them with the vivid realities of her native place. Lucy has no illusions about her own past, but neither is she prepared to be deceived about where she presently is.”
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins (2016)
No summer reading list is good without a few romance novels. With that being the case, there’s no way I can leave the Queen of historical romance off of this list. Forbidden was released earlier this year and I’m already (im)patiently waiting for another story about the Old West.
“Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he’s always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.
Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won’t risk her heart for him. As soon as she’s saved enough money from her cooking, she’ll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .”
Nothing says summer romance to me like a Brenda Jackson novel and this year won’t be any different.
“They say you can forgive but you can never forget. Virgil Bougard takes that saying to heart. Four years ago Kara Goshay believed a vicious lie about him and ended their relationship. And even after her apology, Virgil is still bitter. He doesn’t intend to make things easy for Kara when his family’s firm hires her PR company to revamp his playboy image. But faking a liaison with Kara for the media backfires when the line between fantasy and reality is blurred by strong sexual attraction.
Kara wanted forgiveness. Instead she’s deep into a heated affair with the powerful, charismatic man she can’t resist. The man who claims he’ll never forgive her, especially when a secret enemy puts her professional reputation in jeopardy. Stakes are high—but so is their searing desire, a connection so intense it could possibly tame this elusive, unforgiving bachelor at last… “
Ruby by Cynthia Bond (2015)
I recently finished this book and while it is a hard read, it’s a necessary one. Ruby is one hell of a rollercoaster of a story that’s about facing your demons and finding yourself worthy.
“The epic, unforgettable story of a man determined to protect the woman he loves from the town desperate to destroy her, this beautiful and devastating debut heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.
Ephram Jennings has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids running through the piney woods of Liberty, their small East Texas town. Young Ruby Bell, “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at,” has suffered beyond imagining, so as soon as she can, she flees suffocating Liberty for the bright pull of 1950s New York. Ruby quickly winds her way into the ripe center of the city—the darkened piano bars and hidden alleyways of the Village—all the while hoping for a glimpse of the red hair and green eyes of her mother. When a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. With the terrifying realization that she might not be strong enough to fight her way back out again, Ruby struggles to survive her memories of the town’s dark past. Meanwhile, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.
Full of life, exquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage. This wondrous page-turner rushes through the red dust and gossip of Main Street, to the pit fire where men swill bootleg outside Bloom’s Juke, to Celia Jennings’s kitchen, where a cake is being made, yolk by yolk, that Ephram will use to try to begin again with Ruby. Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.”
I’ve been meaning to read this book for the longest, after so many fantastic views and reading We Should All Be Feminists, I’m definitely going to dive into this within the next week or so.
“Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. “
What about you all? What’s on your reading list this summer?