Books

Summer reads: Chatelaine's favourite books

Grab a beach blanket, your sunscreen and reading glasses — summer is finally here and what better time to escape with a great read? To get you started, here are our top recommendations.

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha

Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve

oneday

One Day by David Nicholls

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

The Disappeared by Kim Echlin

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

Going Solo by Roald Dahl

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

The Beach by Alex Garland

The Beach by Alex Garland

woman reading on beach

Getty Images

Grab a beach blanket, your sunscreen and reading glasses — summer is finally here and what better time to escape with a great read? To get you started, here are our top recommendations from the staff at Chatelaine.

Alex Laws, associate editor, lifestyle: The Beach by Alex Garland, $18

“I first read The Beach during the summer after finishing my A-levels, at a time when everything was tinged with the feeling of possibility, and this debut novel seemed to echo that. Garland’s lucid-dream-like descriptions, and experimental relationships, challenged my understanding of the world in the most thrilling way. This was like a young-adult version of Lord of the Flies — without Leonardo and the Pure Shores soundtrack, it transports you further into the sinister sub-plot of paradise, reminding you that things aren’t always what they seem. And, more personally, it catapults me back in time, to a charming, simplistic place where everything felt unexpected and “travelling” was the most boundary-pushing, free-spirited thing I could imagine.”

Alanna Glassman, assistant editor, health and beauty: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, $29

“This summer I’m looking forward to reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (she’s the voice behind the thought-provoking and beautiful advice column, Dear Sugar). Strayed remembers the months she spent when she was 26 hiking alone on the PCT, which zigzags its way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. ‘This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound,’ says Dwight Garner in a recent review of Strayed’s memoir for The New York Times. I can’t wait to get swept up in her journey.”

Robyn Shanks, online editor: On the Road by Jack Kerouac, $19

“I can’t wait to read this book this summer. It’s one classic I’ve yet to cross off my list, and I’m hoping to get to it before the movie, starring Kristen Stewart, comes out later this year. I think it captures what every summer should be about: having one epic adventure.”

Kari Pritchard, editorial assistant: Going Solo by Roald Dahl, $9

“Nothing brings your favourite childhood author to life like reading his personal autobiography. I first read Going Solo — the conclusion to Dahl’s first autobiography Boy — last summer and my suspicions were quickly confirmed: Roald Dahl is one of the coolest people ever. Dahl tells the story of his journey from England to Africa in 1938 to begin working at the Shell Oil Company. It’s a personal tale filled with laughs and suspense written by one of the world’s best storytellers, allowing readers to see a whole new side of an author whose repertoire goes well beyond the fantastical.”

Catherine Franklin, beauty and fashion editor: A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, $15

“It has everything a girl could want while reading on a Sunday afternoon in the shade — romance, travel, beautiful settings, beautifully crafted characters and a happy ending.”

Sandi Tower, assistant art director: The Disappeared by Kim Echlin, $18

“I read this book so quickly that the day turned into night before I even noticed. The way Kim writes from the perspective of her heroine, Anne, is almost like intimate journal entries to her missing lover, Serey, who is lost in Cambodia following the genocide. When Anne doesn’t hear anything for 10 years she goes to search for him and stumbles across many haunting discoveries on her journey. It was so beautifully written, and the words travel along each page so easily and steadily.”

Kathleen Chin, national account manager: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, $17

“The seventh book in the series, The Deathly Hallows came out the night before I was headed up north to a cottage vacation. I had purchased the first 3 novels as a Christmas gift to my oldest son when he was in elementary school. At the time, he had no interest in reading. But once I started reading Harry Potter to him, he quickly dove into all of the books. By the time the seventh novel was published, he was in high school and an avid reader, and we were both confirmed Harry Potter fans. We picked up the novel from the bookstore at midnight so that we would have it for our week at the cottage. The only problem was we had to take turns reading the book! I like to dive into long novels when I’m at the cottage and finally have a lot of time to devote to reading.”

Julia Black, assistant home editor: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella, $11

“I have to be completely honest and say that a few summers ago I got totally hooked on this series. I was seriously crazy over them, and they made for the perfect chic-lit, easy-breezy summer read. From the gym to the cottage, I couldn’t put them down.”

Dominique Lamberton, editorial assistant: One Day by David Nicholls, $17

“Last summer, immediately after the last exam of my university career, I hopped on a plane to South East Asia. My friend Kiera stumbled upon a copy of One Day at the volunteer accommodation we were staying at in Ho Chi Minh City. Intrigued by the cover and the synopsis, she quickly tore into it and less than a week later closed the book and handed it to me, tears in her eyes. Less than a week after that, I, too, closed the book, teary-eyed. It’s not that it’s the most profound, earth-shattering read. But it is a beautiful story of life’s crossroads and the relationships that shape you along the way. And at that time in our life, right after university, we were excited, anxious and inspired and craved an honest, true-to-life tale. The story of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew will always transport me back to that time, when life felt like one big question mark, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.”

Dawn Marie Schonfield, digital colour specialist: Sea Glass by Anita Shreve, $17

“This is an oldie, but I really enjoyed it. It was one of those page-turners I just could not put down. Set in 1929, it is a beautifully written book with great character development about a newly married couple who move to New Hampshire and rent a run-down beach house. I read it twice and enjoyed it equally each time.”

Carolyn Pioro, web intern: Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery, $6

“Years ago, my family would spend our summer vacations camping at various provincial and national parks across the country. We travelled in a monstrous brown Chevy Suburban. The second most precious cargo on-board (after the food, naturally!) was everyone’s stack of summer reading material. I was a huge fan of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables novels, with my favourite book being this one, the third in the series. It was in this story that Anne goes to the mainland to pursue her B.A. She experiences scholastic triumphs, gleeful hijinks, fierce friendships, and most of all she learns to love deeply and always. I admired her not just for her titian hair, but for her smarts and moxy, too; plus, I think Gilbert Blythe may have been the first boy I ever had a crush on. He remains my ideal.”

Vanessa Garro, national account manager: The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha, $18

“It’s a really easy read that you can pick up and put down whenever you want. As the title suggests, it’s a list of awesome things that happen day to day (i.e. watching The Price Is Right when you’re home sick). Sometimes you forget all the simple pleasures in life until someone reminds you of how great these things are. I find it’s nice to end a day on a positive note.”

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