A sneak peek at our summer reading lists
As we prepare to savor the glory days of summer, the Lilja team is looking forward to sunny days, delicious barbecues and of course, great books! Take a look at the books we’ve got on tap for our personal reading lists this season. Maybe you’ll find a new book or two for your list!
Alicia DeMatteo: “Beach Read” by Emily Henry
Is this name a little on-the-nose for a summertime read? Yes. Do I care? No. I picked this up on a staff recommendation at a local bookstore and she was so excited I was going to read it! It follows a young romance novelist who becomes disenfranchised with love and unable to write, when suddenly she finds herself living next door to her creative writing rival from college. Can we all see where this is going? Yes. Do I care? Once again, no.
Kate Lilja Lohnes: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab
I picked up this book at a small bookseller in March because I was intrigued by the premise — a young woman makes a deal with the devil to live forever, but is remembered by no one. As she rang me up, the owner gushed about it, so I was even more excited to dive in! This book is an engrossing look at life, love and legacy, wrapped in a fantastic storyline with compelling characters. If you find yourself lagging in the earlier chapters, stick with it. The pace picks up and it will captivate you.
Mary Lilja: “The Five Wounds” by Kirsten Valdez Quade
I picked up this book at Barnes & Noble and put off starting it (I was deep into my book club read, “The Splendid and the Vile,” a nonfiction account of life in and around the Churchill household during the Blitz, which I loved). This novel is drawing me in with a compelling look at the Padilla family of New Mexico as they face various life challenges, from cancer to pregnancy to wounds from a reenactment of Christ’s passion (the latter of which starts the novel off with a bang). Halfway through, I already care about what happens to the five generations of Padilla family members — four of them living under one roof. Great writing, equal measures of grit and grace, plus a little humor thrown in, are keeping me engaged.
Laura Stickney: “Mrs. Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf
This was one of the first Woolf novels I ever read, and it made me fall completely in love with her! A stunning work of Modernist fiction, it focuses on a single summer day in the life of socialite Clarissa Dalloway as she prepares for a party that evening. The narrative is plotless and fluid — it reads like a leisurely stroll past florist shops, traffic-filled streets and the lush green sprawl of city parks. Amidst the bustle and flow of post-war London, Woolf takes us inside the minds of a wide cast of characters — from the aging, elegant Clarissa to the shell-shocked former soldier Septimus — as they reminisce about the Past, reflect on the Present and wonder about the Future. The book’s plotless structure might seem daunting at first, but it actually allows Woolf to capture the human experience of Memory and Time in an amazingly accurate way! As you sink into this perfect summer read, notice how Woolf uses the tolling of Big Ben to effortlessly transition from one scene to the next.
Erica Winegar: “Arsenic and Adobo” by Mia P. Manansala
I’m a sucker for rom-coms and I love a good mystery, so when I heard about “Arsenic and Adobo,” I knew I found the perfect summer read. It’s the first in a tasty new mystery series from author Mia P. Manansala. Lila Macapagal moves home to help save her aunt’s failing restaurant after a bad breakup with her boyfriend. Her luck takes a turn for the worse when a restaurant critic, none other than her ex, gives the restaurant a bad review — and then drops dead after Lila confronts him about it. You can imagine what happens next. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this book. It has the makings for a killer start to summer.