Hello fellow book lovers. It’s been a while since I’ve done a book roundup (see past ones here & here), but I figured with the start of summer (and quarantine still going strong), I’d provide some reading recommendations for your consideration.
A few notes: My genre of choice is psychological thriller (lol I know, probably a surprise to some of you), but I tried to include some other genres to round it out. I’m also a big advocate of Good Reads, mostly because it helps me keep track of everything I’ve ever read (so it’s easier to do these types of things!) & everything I want to read (100+ books on my want-to-read list). And finally, obviously most libraries are still closed, but you can borrow ebooks via Overdrive through your local public/school library, which has been my personal lifesaver. And with that, here are my book recommendations!
The Turn of Key (Ruth Ware)
Genre: psych thriller, mystery // Key words: ghosts, weird family, murder
We’re starting off with a psychy thriller because why not. I actually just finished this book two days ago (after finishing it in two days) because I really couldn’t put it down. I liked it because it’s a unique premise: the narrator takes a nannying job for a wealthy family, who live in a secluded Victorian, “smart house” mansion that’s supposedly haunted. Oh, and a child ends up murdered. It’s dark, there are subtle twists & turns along the way, and you’re not really sure who to trust (even the narrator). Shout out to my mamma for recommending it to me! Buy The Turn of Key here.
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stuart Turton)
Genre: mystery // Key words: multiple narrators/plots, puzzles, twists & turns
THIS BOOK. This has been on my list for a while & I devoured it the first weekend of quarantine. I love this book because it’s so, so different & such a brain teaser. (Also kind of reminds me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None which is another one of my faves.) You have to pay attention to small details, but it’s worth it. A cast of characters are invited to a dinner party where the hosts’ daughter, Evelyn Hardcastle, is murdered at 11 p.m. The only difference is…this day repeats over and over again until the narrator can figure out who killed Evelyn–as he wakes up in the body of a different guest each day. It’s a fascinating format for a book. Like I said, you have to pay attention because the passage of time is not linear, but it’s incredible. I gave it 5/5 stars on Good Reads which is a RARITY for me, it’s that good. Buy The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle here.
City of Girls (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Genre: historical fiction (loosely) // Key words: showgirls, quirky characters, New York City
Quick detour from dark books~ for something a little lighter. Yes, this book is on the best sellers list so you’ve probably already heard of it. As a general rule, I don’t LOVE over-hyped books because I find 8 times out of 10 they’re overrated, but I think this one is appropriately hyped. The book starts in the 1940’s in NYC where Vivan Morris gets kicked out of college & goes to live with her aunt who owns a theater company. Think showgirls, booze, scandal etc. etc. Great cast of characters, and Vivan is far from perfect but you end up liking her a lot. I think the time period is fun, although the first half of the book is a little more entertaining than the second half (still satisfying though). Just an easy, fun beach read to enjoy with a cocktail. Buy City of Girls here.
The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides)
Genre: psych thriller // Key words: psych ward, plot twists, multiple narrators
Back to the psych thillers!! This is a solid psychy thriller book. Great plot twist. Great narration. Everyone I’ve recommended it to has also enjoyed it. The story follows Alicia (the literal silent patient) after she randomly kills her husband out of the blue & then never speaks again. It’s up to a psychotherapist named Theo to uncover her secrets & discover her motive (and turns out he has some secrets too…) It’s suspenseful and you probably won’t be able to put it down. Another rare 5/5 stars from me. Buy The Silent Patient here.
The Alice Network (Kate Quinn)
Genre: historical fiction // Key words: World Wars, spies, female friendship
Every so often I want to read a historical fiction novel & I really enjoyed this one. It’s split between two female narrators, one back during WWI and the second in WWII. Their stories are connected through “The Alice Network” (based on the real Alice-Network!), an organization of female spies in wartime Europe. It’s funny & heartbreaking at the same time. Classic World War time piece (if you like that niche) and a solid read overall. Buy The Alice Network here.
Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit (John E. Douglas)
Genre: nonfiction // Key words: serial killers, FBI, gruesome crime
Here is my token nonfiction pick for the list (because I rarely read nonfiction). This might sound familiar because there’s a Netflix show based on it (loved both seasons but season 2 is better!) Listen, it’s about serial killers. So it’s dark & not for the faint of heart. But if you’re fascinated by this kind of thing (hello, me, a psych nerd), it’s super good. The author (John E. Douglas) recounts his time in the FBI Crime Unit and outlines how they first started categorizing serial killers. You’ll hear some familiar names (Charlie Manson, Ted Bundy, etc.) & real interactions with them (and very, very detailed accounts of their crimes). Again, if you’re squeamish or easily spooked by this type of thing, this is not the book for you. And maybe don’t read it at night. Buy Mindhunter here.
Where the Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens)
Genre: fiction // Key words: nature, coming of age, the South
Believe it or not, I get a lot of flack for liking this book! Again on the best sellers list so I know there are other people out there who enjoy it, but all of my friends who have read it are sincerely surprised a book snob~ like me recommends this book. Look, it’s not the most sophisticated, dramatic, or out of the box plot line in the world. It’s fairly standard from a plot/character perspective. The reason I like it is because it’s beautifully written. I simply love the language & that’s why it was enjoyable to read (some of my friends argue it’s overly detailed and slow, but find out for yourself!) Buy Where the Crawdads Sing here.
Wilder Girls (Rory Power)
Genre: sci-fi (ish?) // Key words: quarantine, apocalyptic, survival
So this book is weirdly apropos for the time. An all girls school is placed under quarantine after “The Tox” starts infecting students, causing them to die. (Is this hitting too close to home? Kinda? Maybe skip this one to read at a later date…) But if you’re still with me, it’s interesting and well written. It’s different than the books I normally read (it’s a little more sci-fi & apocalyptic), but you really get sucked into the survival story of the main characters. If you liked Annihilation or Lord of the Flies, you’ll probably like this one. Buy Wilder Girls here.
The Girl Before (Rena Olsen)
Genre: mystery // Key words: dark past, multiple mysteries, eye opening
I read this book last summer & it stayed with me for a while after I read it. One day, Clara (the main character) is arrested and taken away from her family, as her husband warns her to not say anything. When she’s interrogated, the police call her “Diana” and accuse her husband of heinous crimes that she wasn’t aware of. And all of a sudden, she starts to remember her past and puts the pieces together. The vibe/direction took a little bit of a different turn than I expected but I was super satisfied with the ending (which is half the battle). Buy The Girl Before here.
Normal People (Sally Rooney)
Genre: realistic fiction // Key words: emotionally raw, realistic, heartbreak
I debated putting this book on the list because tbh it emotionally wrecked me (you’ve been warned!!) I wouldn’t describe it as “good” in the same sense as I normally describe other books, but it’s excellent because it’s so raw and so real (which is why parts of it REALLY got to me). If you’re a millennial and have ever been in love and/or heartbroken, there are parts of this book that will hit you like a mack truck. I don’t not recommend it, just be emotionally prepared. You also can’t put it down, even if you’re emotionally distraught, so props to Sally Rooney. Buy Normal People here and read the book before you watch the Hulu show!
That’s all I’ve got for now! Leave me book recs in the comments–always looking to add to my list. Happy reading! &.