Since having a bit of pool time last month, I finally got my reading groove back on. After always somewhat getting off to a competitive start in January (where I tackle half a book in a week and then tail off)- reading becomes somewhat of a fierce sport to partake in, and then leaves me feeling left for dust as soon as February rolls around.
But- given a bit of free time, and a handful of earlier nights which meant that reading wasn’t solely left for the moment my eyelids became heavy, I have fully immersed myself in some bloody good pages. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of brilliant reads to throw you straight back in the deep end, and although I know I’ll never be one of these people who manage 50 books a year (or whatever impressive stat that pops up), it’s nice to get lost in a really good story, especially when life becomes a little heavy sometimes.
And you know what? It’s why I’ve always had an unwavering love for chic lit. A genre, that especially in today’s day and age can leave you feeling slightly less ‘smart’ and brainy than someone who opts for a George Orwell classic, or the latest Sally Rooney book. It’s the covers that flash pink, love hearts and couples that have made me wonder if I’m any less of an intelligent reader because the topics I chose to read about aren’t as heavy or complex as the things I’ve heard women discussing over podcasts and in book clubs. But, over the last couple of years I’ve realised that what you read doesn’t make you less smart or more ‘ditzy’ than your counterparts.
Reading, no matter why we chose to do it- is such a personal choice. You’re dedicating your time to escape somewhere- and if that place is the white sanded shores of a tropical island where our heroine is finding her love after years or ‘will they? won’t they?!’ than so be it. I’m officially removing any shame that comes with a chunky paperback that I’ve picked up in W H Smiths in Gatwick airport, and exchanging it for pride that I’ve finally accepted that a lot of the stories I love take me somewhere other than a dystopian reality and get me actually page turning in the first place.
And with that said- here are some of my favourite reads of the year (so far), and a few that I’m lining up for the next few weeks too…
GAH. The shame. I picked this up and included it in my reading list for last summer, and although I got into it- never quite finished it. It was reserved for my ‘before bed’ read (being a hardback), and meant I only ever page turned as I was about to hit the pillow. Fast forward a year, I packed it in my suitcase and saved it for some very apt poolside reading on holiday- and it was bloody brilliant and well worth the wait. I smiled, teared up and being a south Londoner, saw every footstep and moment as it unfurled. It was the most heartwarming story about determination, relationships and friendships- and I’m already a) counting down the days that I head to Brockwell Lido this summer and b) catch this as a motion picture because it needs to happen!
OH THIS BOOK. After seeing it on Emily and Jess’s book club, Girl’s Like Books, I swiftly scooped it up and devoured it in days, which is saying something for me. The ultimate ‘will they won’t they’ One Day inspired novel, it tells the story of Stephanie and Jamie, from meeting- and the ten years that follow. A real tear jerker and one to get lost in- it’s been hailed as ‘The Emotional Page-turning Epic Love Story of 2019’, which- if that doesn’t do it for you, I don’t know what will.
If you ever fancy an excellent chic lit read and don’t know where to begin, may I point you in the direction of the impeccable Lindsey Kelk. One of the warmest, funniest writers I’ve indulged in- I Heart Hawaii is the last in her I Heart series, and although makes for the brilliant ending to a perfect series- doesn’t require Harry Potter style back-cataloging if you want to jump straight in. The book feels like you’re reading about your far-more glamorous mates across the pond, and had me falling in love with the characters again and again. It takes a truly brilliant author to make you really warm to characters, and it’s something Lindsey does so, so well.
Another novel I’ve had my sights set on is the debut from the wonderful Laura Jane Williams. I was kindly sent this to read and although I’m only a chapter in am so excited as it sounds like a textbook ‘Liv-will-like-this-read’. Clearly I have a thing for romantic ‘will they won’t they’ reads, and this leans into it again. GOD I JUST LOVE A CHASE. Being someone partial to the ‘rush hour crush’ section of the Metro, I loved an idea of a novel centred around finding love on the commute (I know, I know), and am assured that with Laura’s brilliant writing this will be something I end up falling in love with too.
Recommended by my sister-in-law (cum bestie), Lucy- I saw her reading this and it’s cover description (‘With the warmth of David Nicholls and the off-kilter charisma of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag’ as well as ‘Black Mirror meets Bridget Jones’) and I was SOLD. It’s like the reviews rummaged around in my internal favourites and pulled out the big ones and I am so excited to get stuck in. Based on a compatibility app called Kismet- the book centres around the search of something better (or, the atypical Love Island ‘could I be happier?) and is a perfect commentary on modern life, love and the unknown.
I recently picked this up in one of my favourite bookshops, and did the oh-so fickle thing of gravitating towards the cover and snap reviews and later falling in love with everything else. The lady at the till said I’d be truly looked after with Sayaka Murata- and despite being only a couple of chapters in, am already in love her dry writing style and visual way of story telling. Why does it always take me this long to discover most-loved reads?!
Finally, another book I was sent by my publisher (! omg) by the wonderful Mim Skinner. Jailbirds: Lessons from a Women’s Prison, is something totally different to the others I’ve picked up but have heard some truly remarkable things from this. ‘From 2014-2017, Mim Skinner worked inside prison as an art teacher. She now runs the women’s project for the charity Handcrafted, supporting women to connect to community, housing and recovery from addiction through creativity.’ The book tells a powerful account of working in a women’s prison, and shares stories from the funny to the heartbreaking- something a little different for my summer reading list but something I’m very excited to tuck into.
What have you got on your summer reading list? I encourage all of your favourite chic lit books to be shared below too!