#29 TRENDING IN Books & Writing 🔥

A Review of the 9 Books I Read This Summer from Classics to RomComs

Books & Writing

August 19, 2023

I read a lot of great books this summer, ranging from classics such as The Red Badge of Courage to new books like The Summer I Turned Pretty. Additionally, I read some nonfiction, which is not a typical move for me. Reading expands your view of the world, whether fiction or nonfiction.

Last summer, I did not do a great job of reading. Like most other people these days, I spent the majority of my time on my phone. While I still do quite a decent amount of that, this summer I made it a point to read more than I did last summer! (Which was not a hard thing to do). Although this summer was special in many ways, my re-established reading habit was an enriching part of it!

My Side of the Mountain

by Jean Craighead George

Rating: 7/10

The first book I read this summer was My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. This is an older book, first published in 1959. Many of us have dreamed about running away and starting our own adventurous lives, especially as a child.

This is a fictional story about a boy who actually does it. Sam Gribley survives about a year by himself on a mountain to get away from his huge city family, where he felt overlooked. With only a falcon named Frightful as his companion, he creates his own house, clothes, and learns to find food. Frightful's Mountain is the sequel to My Side of the Mountain.

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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking

by Susan Cain

Rating: 8/10

Quiet was the only nonfiction book I read this summer, other than On Writing by Stephen King. However, the book is thoroughly researched, and enlightening to both introverts and extroverts alike. Susan Cain talked to psychology experts, as well as regular people to figure out why introverts are the way they are, as well as how they can fit into society.

As well as analyzing introverted motivations and behaviors, Mrs. Cain also dissects extrovertism as well. As someone who is on the more introverted side, I could not only better understand myself, but some of my extroverted friends.

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On Writing

by Stephen King

Rating: 6.5/10

Stephen King's only nonfiction book, On Writing, gives tips to any writer hoping to follow Mr. King's success. The book opens with a brief panorama of his rocky childhood, which shaped the themes for Mr.

King's stories. Many of the people Mr. King grew up with have become characters in his books. However, the point of the book is to give his advice on writing. Some of his main tips were to be disciplined in practicing both reading and writing, to not over-describe the setting or characters, and not plan out your plot too much, as it might lead to a forced-sounding book.

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Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Rating: 9/10

Jane Eyre is my summer reading accomplishment! This book (at least my edition!) is 477 pages, and is one of the classics, right up there with Little Women and Fallen Angels. It's a dense read, so it's definitely a commitment to finish once you pick it up.

The main character, unsurprisingly, is Jane Eyre. Jane's parents died before she could remember them, and she grew up with her extended family. However, her childhood was marred by abuse, and this experience stayed with her for the rest of her life. Later, Jane moves out, and, abandoned by her family, clings to others whom she loves. Although some of these people pass out of her life, she meets one man who she cannot let go: Mr. Rochester. Try as she might, she cannot extinguish her love her him, although social class, but mostly moral issues, do not allow her to be with him. At the end, Jane finds the lifelong love she has always pined after since her youth.

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I am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Rating: 7/10

Although I give Malala Yousafzai's book a lower rating, the rating does not reflect my respect for her contributions regarding girls' eduction. In case you didn't know, she is the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and for a good reason. From a young age, Malala spoke out in support of girls' education. For being a threat to the model of a male-dominating society, Malala was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan on October 9, 2012.

The book not only went over the details regarding Malala's life, both before and after her getting shot, but also the background history of both her family and her country. The background knowledge helps the reader understand how Pakistan had the capability to become such a misogynistic country under the Taliban. Additionally, Malala's family history, especially her father's, helps us understand why her family was one to rise up and fight against it.

While I respect Malala's story so much, the book moved a little slowly for me, and that is the reason behind my lower rating. If you want a more brief and kid-friendly version, I Am Malala also comes in a young reader's edition.

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Cuba in My Pocket

by Adriana Cuevas

Rating: 7.5/10

Cuba in My Pocket is set during the Communist takeover of Cuba. As an American citizen, it is important to not only know our history, but others as well. One easy way to do this is to read books like these, which are set in other countries. This book not only mentions Fidel's takeover, but also the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Holocaust and World War II.

Although this book covers heavy themes such as family, loss and friendship, it is still appropriate for someone as young as twelve to read. The story follows Cumba, the oldest boy of a small Cuban family, as he flees to America to escape Communism. He struggles with the language barrier, loneliness, and his new school in America.

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The Summer I Turned Pretty series

by Jenny Han

Rating: 8.5/10

Originally, I was not going to read this series. I passed it off as too cheesy, and teenage drama is not a topic I like to read about anyway. However, I was bored at my aunt's house, and this was one of the only books she had lying around.

I was pleasantly surprised! You probably know The Summer I Turned Pretty from the show starring Lola Tung as Belly Conklin. I think the books are better, but that's biased, since I usually find books to be more entertaining anyway. If you are looking for a light read with family drama and some romance, then this is the series for you. Although the books are a little cheesy, Jenny Han portrays family and friend relationships in a realistic light.

The series follows Belly and her conflicting feelings regarding two of her closest friends, Jeremiah and Conrad Fisher. Belly grew up alongside the brothers because Belly's mom and Mrs. Fisher are best friends.

Belly has always liked Conrad, but Jeremiah likes Belly. As Belly gets older, the situation turns more and more complicated. There are three books in this series: The Summer I Turned Pretty, It's Not Summer Without You, and We'll Always Have Summer. I wrote a full recommendation article about them here (HA!):

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The Red Badge of Courage

by Stephen Crane

Rating: 7/10

On the surface, The Red Badge of Courage is about Henry Fleming, a Union soldier in the Civil War and his experiences in battle. However, the book serves as a study of the effects of war on a soldier's mind. Henry goes through many shifting feelings regarding himself and the war over the course of the book.

At first, he is a new recruit terrified of battle and how he will respond to it. At the end, he is a veteran soldier who is recognized by his leaders as one of the bravest in the regiment. Stephan Crane does an admirable job with his use of imagery and figurative language to help the reader picture what Henry is experiencing.

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Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: 9.5/10

Salt to the Sea always has a huge request list at my library, and for a good reason. I took all the pictures in this article myself, and while at the library picking up some of the books, Salt to the Sea was the only one I didn't have yet. I saw it on the shelf for someone to pick up, and I stood there for a good minute wondering if it was bad to take it outside to take a picture and return it before anyone could notice. (It didn't happen).

Salt to the Sea, set in World War 2, switches between the perspectives of four teenagers: Joana, Emilia, Florian and Alfred. Their lives quickly intertwine by becoming a team out of necessity, and friends out of chance. As you read, Ruta Sepetys slowly unravels each character: their backstories that reveal why they do what they do, their reasons for being where they are, and their goals for after the war.

This book was extremely well done, and Mrs. Sepetys not only poured much talent but emotion into it as well. I admire not only the storyline itself, but the quality of writing used to execute that story.

If you are looking for any books similar to this, I would also recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. These three books are all literary masterpieces. All the Light We Cannot See is quite possibly one of my favorite books I've ever read.

Image Credit: Adeline Yang

I hope that you can find some books on this that speak to you, and if not, I hope you can use these to lead you to others. Also, comment if you have any book recommendations that you want to share. I have a running list of books that I want to read, and I would love any suggestions!

Adeline Yang
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Writer since May, 2022 · 13 published articles

Adeline, known by friends and family as Addie, can be found reading, practicing her instruments, running or eating ice cream. She has two dogs, Ellie and Raegan!