We (and much of the rest of the internet) talk a lot about looking your best for the summer, and it’s something a lot of women – and men, for that matter – take seriously. The summer is a time to feel laid back and relaxed, and that’s easiest when you’re confident in how you look walking around on the beach. But during any beach vacation there’s usually a lot of downtime as well, which is why I wanted to write a bit about some good summer reads.
Naturally this list could be a lot longer. You can probably find a list of the top 100 2018 summer beach reads with a quick Google search. But here I focused on putting together a nice mix of genres and styles and pointing to five summer beach reads particularly great for women.
“Three Sisters, Three Queens” by Philippa Gregory
This is not a brand new book, but it’s a fascinating historical novel by a woman who’s more or less mastered semi-fictional accounts of the Tudor royal family in England. In this one she looks at Henry VIII’s oldest sister Margaret and her younger sisters Mary and Katherine of Aragon – the queens of three different nations (Scotland, France, and England). While the book has a lot to do with Henry VIII, it’s a nice account of some fascinating women in English history who otherwise are typically relegated to brief mentions in history textbooks. Plus, in the summer of 2018, following the spectacular royal wedding, it might be fun to read about the royals!
“The Magicians” by Lev Grossman
“The Magicians’ is usually billed as something of a spoof on “Harry Potter,” or a lighthearted alternative to “Game Of Thrones.” Really, if you know your young adult fantasy, or children’s fantasy for that matter, it’s more like C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Whatever the case, while it is in part a parody, it’s also a fairly satisfying fantasy adventure – and one that devotes more attention to female protagonists than most. You’ll find yourself swept up after a few pages, and if you’re one to speed through a book on the beach, there are two sequels to enjoy.
“The Lady Was A Gambler” by Chris Enss
To understand the appeal of this book, which has been out for several years now, you really need to dive into the history of women in gambling a little bit. Why? Well, because for some reason we often look at gambling as an almost exclusively male activity, when that’s just not the case. But from the spiritual gambling of pagan women to ancient Rome, to women-only Victorian gambling exhibitions and on and on, there’s a fascinating history that’s largely untold. “The Lady Was A Gambler” tells some of the true stories of how that history touched the Old American West, in what’s ultimately a deeply engaging read.
“Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco
Depending on your politics, you may or may not get excited about this book. Alyssa Mastromonaco was an official in the Obama White House who served in multiple roles, ultimately becoming Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Regardless of how you feel politically though, this is an honest, funny, and revealing memoir that’s largely about what it means to be a woman in modern political life. Filled with the things you learn as a woman in the White House, it’s a wonderful read that will at once make you want to work harder in life to get to a place like those Mastromonaco got to, and make you glad that someone like her is doing it so you don’t have to.
“A House For Happy Mothers” by Amulya Malladi
One of the newer books on this list, “A House For Happy Mothers” is a great read for any mother or daughter, or any woman thinking of becoming a mother. That’s not because it packs any sort of practical advice, but rather because it can make you think. It’s essentially the tale of one fortunate woman who can’t have children and one struggling woman whose children are all she has, and how they’re able to link up across the world to help each other out. Also touching on some of the politics of India’s surrogacy culture and industry, it’s a book with a lot to say, but one that still comes across as heartwarming and encouraging.