Saturday 26 May 2018

My top 10 summer reads for 2018

I've been reading up a storm lately. I always read a lot, but now that I have my hammock (which is the best reading spot I've ever had!), I do it more than ever. Is there anything better than swaying gently in a warm breeze, reading a great book and occasionally looking up to watch the hummingbirds feed right in front of you? I don't think so. This is my heaven, 100%.

Here are a few of the books I've read and enjoyed lately:
Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell

I'm a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell's writing style, because he combines his journalistic research skills with telling stories about people. Blink is all about those split-second decisions we make without thinking. We've all met someone and liked/disliked them at first glance - but why?
This book explores the psychology behind that and many other seemingly impulsive reactions we have, and why some people are amazing at making split-second decisions, and others fail miserably.
It's an interesting and easy read, I enjoyed it as much as his other books!

Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate

Omg, this book stayed with me big time. It's based on one of America's most notorious real-life scandals: the business of stealing kids from poor people and selling them to rich ones. It's told from two different perspectives: One is Rill's, the 12-year old who is living an enchanted life on a shantyboat on the Mississippi, and whose life takes a tragic turn upon her mother's dramatic rush to the hospital one stormy night. Rill and her siblings are being kidnapped and brought to a terrible orphanage, to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.
The other teller of the story is Avery, a rich, privileged woman, who stumbles upon the family's darkest secret and has to decide whether she wants to continue to hide it, or tell the truth ...
I couldn't put it down!

The Party, by Robyn Harding

I think everybody has heard of this book by now, right? It's one of those suspense novels that you can't put down because you simply have to know how it all ends. I read those books on occasion, but they always make me feel like I do after binging on too much candy: slightly disappointed and sick to my stomach.
What I liked about it: I enjoy Harding's writing style, and I read it in two days: I just had to know how it ended. Being unputdownable is always a great feature for a book.
What I didn't like: The emphasis on how one simple mistake could ruin so many lives. I don't believe in that. Also, having grown up in Germany, I'm always bemused at the relationship North-Americans have to alcohol: in Europe, the dad's "mistake" would have been expected (and never been classified as a "mistake"), and the subsequent problems it creates seem exaggerated to me.
Still, it was a good read, and definitely something that goes well with a fruity drink and flip-flops!

The Things We Keep, by Sally Hepworth

I have a strange and slightly unsettling fascination with end-of-life stories. Maybe it's because I'm married to a man who's 64 years old, or because I work at a hospital, or because I'm a story teller, and I care about endings - I just think it's important to keep in mind that we will all die one day. And I'm not saying that in a morbid kind of way, but the opposite: we should be aware every day that our days on this beautiful earth are numbered. That way, we will enjoy every single day more. 
That's where this gorgeous book comes in. It deals with a very heavy subject - early-onset-Alzheimers - in a completely breathtaking way. The protagonist, Anna, is such a fierce, funny, strong, and lovable character, you can't help but fall in love with her. Add to that two other strong, all-odds-defying female characters, and you have the making of a truly remarkable, moving, should-be-sad-but-isn't, uplifting story. I absolutely adored it.

The Family Next Door, by Sally Hepworth

This was the first book I read by Sally Hepworth, and I simply love her writing. She manages to capture human emotion in such a relatable way, you can't help but root for her characters, no matter how flawed they are. This story takes place in suburbia and follows the lives of five women who all have their secrets. It's a great reminder that nothing is ever as it seems, and that the more we try to pretend we are something we are not, the lonelier we get. It's a fast-paced, fascinating story full of surprises, and the perfect read for your next vacation!

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen 

This was a recommendation by my blog-friend Amy, and I'm so glad she pointed me to this beautiful memoir. Anna Quindlen takes a look back at her life thus far, and writes about friendship, marriage, motherhood, our bodies, and everything in between.
"It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn't know who I was. Then I invented someone, and became her. Then I began to like what I'd invented. And finally I was what I was again."
This book is a celebration of life, aging, and enjoying every phase of life we go through, with all its angst, messiness, and ups and downs.

The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

There is a lot of hype surrounding this book - and it's well deserved. It takes the oldest story in the world - wife being dumped for a younger model - and turns it on its head. Nothing is as it seems, and the twists and turns are fast and furious. I couldn't put it down, it's amazing!

Lady Be Good, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Susan Elizabeth Phillips' many books are pure fun: whimsical, sexy, and as satisfying as a big scoop of mango ice cream. They always feature feisty, unconventional women, drop-dead gorgeous men who fall in love with them, and a quirky cast of supporting characters. They may not be the most realistic books, but if you take them for what they are - lighthearted, funny, modern fairy tales - they make for a wonderful escape from reality. I've read them all, and always feel better about the world afterwards.

How to Walk Away, by Katherine Center 

As soon as Jenny Lawson (aka "The Bloggess") recommended this book on her Instagram I downloaded it. And boy oh boy, am I glad I did! I'm still reading it, and I'm forcing myself to take it slow so it will last longer. It's a beautiful, beautiful book, about what happens when we hit rock-bottom. With a topic like that, it could be a depressing read, but it's the opposite: hopeful, uplifting,  and inspiring. It shows you that no matter how far we fall, or how bad life gets, there is always hope.

Let's Pretend This is Normal, by Miriam Verheyden 

This is my story of how I went from feeling alone, clueless, and completely lost to creating a life that I love. My life is far from perfect, I'm still annoyed often, and I still have demons in my life (my depression, Rich's Lyme Disease, normal everyday problems). But I learnt that trusting your instinct and listening to your heart won't lead you astray, and that ignoring other people's opinions is sometimes necessary in order to figure out what makes you happy.
It's officially coming out on June 5, and I so hope that you will find it helpful!

What are some of your book recommendations?

Happy weekend!
xoxo Miriam



  1. I highly recommend number 10, just finished reading it :)))

    1. Wow, that was quick! I'm glad you liked it!!!

  2. I highly recommend number 10 too :) Awesome book.
    If you like end-of-life stories/memoirs, I cannot rave enough about Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. A beautifully written memoir about life and family and love and death. She explores what really matters when you realize you have little time left. The book description on Amazon says: "You can read a multitude books about how to die, but Riggs, a dying woman, will show you how to live.” It affected me profoundly, and I've read it twice. I think you'd love it.

    1. Thank you so much for the recommendation Phoenix! I already downloaded it ;-)

  3. I have Blink on my bookshelf to read.
    Before we were yours - how did I never know about this?! MUST READ!!
    I will check our the rest too.
    I am currently reading# 10. I can't wait to see how it ends!

    1. Spoiler: it's a happy ending ;-)
      Seriously, read Before we were yours. It's amazing. I still think about it frequently, and I read it over a month ago.
      Happy reading!

  4. And my list grows and grows and grows...

    1. Better a long list of what to read next than no list at all ... ;-)

  5. Excited to read some of these!

    I’m glad you enjoyed the Anna Quinden book. There were a few quotes in it that really made me think of you, so I’m glad I didn’t steer you wrong with the recommendation.

    1. You sure didn't, I loved it! She is an expert in turning the ups and downs of life into beautiful life lessons. That's a skill I greatly admire and try hard to hone myself.


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