If you’re reading this, it is the oh-so-bleak midwinter. The holidays are gone and spring still seems like a far-off fantasy. Luckily for you, we have the perfect escape from the cold and snow: what better time is there for reading about sunshine, summer, and serenity? If you’d like to slip away from below-zero temperatures into a sunny, light-hearted read, then take a look at these book recommendations to help brighten up your winter!
Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan
Becc was the good girl. A dedicated student. Aspiring reporter. Always where she was supposed to be. Until a secret relationship with the charming Cal one summer in college cost her everything she held dear: her journalism dreams; her best friend, Eric; and her carefully imagined future. Now, Becc’s past is back front and center as she travels up the scenic California coast to a wedding—with a man she hasn’t seen in a decade. As each mile flies by, Becc can’t help but feel the thrilling push and pull of memories, from infinite nights at beach bonfires and lavish boat parties to secret movie sessions. But the man beside her is not so eager to re-create history. And as the events of that heartbreaking summer come into view, Becc must decide if those dazzling hours they once shared are worth fighting for or if they’re lost forever.
One Summer in Paris by Sarah Morgan
To celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, Grace has planned a surprise for her husband—a romantic getaway to Paris. But he has a surprise of his own: he wants a divorce. Reeling from the shock but refusing to be broken, a devastated Grace makes the bold decision to go to Paris alone. Audrey, a young woman from London, has left behind a heartache of her own when she arrives in Paris. A job in a bookshop is her ticket to freedom, but with no money and no knowledge of the French language, suddenly a summer spent wandering the cobbled streets alone seems much more likely…until she meets Grace, and everything changes. Grace can’t believe how daring Audrey is. Audrey can’t believe how cautious Grace is. Living in neighboring apartments above the bookshop, this unlikely pair offer each other just what they’ve both been missing. They came to Paris to find themselves, but finding this unbreakable friendship might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them…
Akin by Emma Donoghue
Noah is only days away from his first trip back to Nice since he was a child when a social worker calls looking for a temporary home for Michael, his eleven-year-old great-nephew. Though he has never met the boy, he gets talked into taking him along to France. This odd couple, suffering from jet lag and culture shock, argue about everything from steak haché to screen time, and the trip is looking like a disaster. But as Michael’s ease with tech and sharp eye help Noah unearth troubling details about their family’s past, both of them come to grasp the risks that people in all eras have run for their loved ones, and find they are more akin than they knew.
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when Emma was twelve. Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her. Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her—Emma or Saylor—will win out?
What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it. Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things. But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them…? Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated. Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited. But what if they can’t nail a first date even after three do-overs? What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work and Ben doesn’t try hard enough? What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play? But what if it is?
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. When a surprise engagement between Khalid and her cousin Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family, and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind.
The Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer. Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe. But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.
Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
It began with four words. ‘I love your laugh. x’ But that was twelve years ago. It really began the day Georgina was fired from The Worst Restaurant in Sheffield (© Tripadvisor) and found The Worst Boyfriend in the World (© Georgina’s best friends) in bed with someone else. So when her new boss, Lucas McCarthy, turns out to be the boy who wrote those words to her all that time ago, it feels like the start of something. The only problem? He doesn’t seem to remember Georgina – at all…
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough. When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.
Second Best by Jessica Dettmann
Going from one child to two is never all that easy for a family, but when Emma’s husband simultaneously fathers a third child three doors up the street, things get very tricky very fast. No longer is it enough for Emma to be the best wife and mother. Now she needs to be the best ex-wife and the best part-time parent to her ex’s love child—and that’s before she even thinks about adding a new bloke to the mix. Set in an upwardly mobile, ultra-competitive suburb, this is a funny, biting, heartwarming modern comedy that looks at the roles we play, how we compete, and what happens when we dare to strive for second-best.
Someday Jennifer by Risto Pakarinen
Peter is stuck. His career is flat, his friendships exist only on Facebook and his romantic life is well past its expiry date. But one night, spurred on by a viewing of Back to the Future after one too many drinks, he has an idea—that he will just go back. Back to when his worst problem was which pair of acid-washed jeans to wear; to when the perfect girl sat next to him in English class. Back to 1986. Peter packs up his life, turns off his cellphone and moves back into his teenage bedroom and resolutely ignores everything about the world that didn’t exist in the mid-eighties. Throwing himself into restoring his small town’s old movie theatre, he hides his true objective from everyone—to get a second chance with the first (and only true) love of his life: that perfect girl beside him in English class, Jennifer. But time travel is never without its complications, especially when everyone else around you remains in the present.
We hope you enjoy our sunny recommendations, and that they’re enough to get you to the Spring Equinox with a spring in your step and a smile on your face! Let us know what you’re reading this winter in the comments or over on our Twitter!
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