Books to whisk you away this summer

Summer is a season I primarily spend tucked away indoors, far from the Texas heat and mosquitoes. Consequently, I look for one thing in summer books that will take me away from the monotony of the days: adventure. Here are a few of my summer favorites that I recommend:

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

A slim retelling, “The Penelopiad” makes a perfect afternoon read. “The Penelopiad” is based on the tale of the Trojan War. This book, however, spotlights an overlooked character: Penelope, the wife of war hero Odysseus. The book follows Penelope as she meets, marries and loses her husband to war. While it is a retelling, this book doesn’t offer a comprehensive background on the war, so it will be best enjoyed by readers who are already familiar with and fans of Penelope and Odysseus’ tale.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

This early 2000s chick-lit novel set in London makes the perfect vacation read as you can easily pick it up and put it down. The story follows Becky, a young woman working a dull office job, who has a tendency to overspend. The book seems shallow and uninteresting on its surface, but the dramatics and indulgent silliness crescendo into a whirlwind tale that will leave you rooting for our heroine. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” also serves as an entertaining personal finance crash course, and Becky’s financial missteps are a reminder to watch your own wallet.  

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

“Caraval” follows Scarlett Dragna, a girl living on a tiny island in a magical world with her sister Tella and their abusive father. When Tella goes missing, Scarlet journeys to a neighboring land to participate in the infamous, twisted game of Caraval to find her sister. With an enchanted setting and dazzling plot, Caraval truly delivers on adventure with a healthy heaping of romance as well. 

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

As a break from school’s structure and studying, summer is the ideal time to cultivate our creativity and tend to our souls. Elizabeth Gilbert’s nonfiction book “Big Magic” focuses on honing creativity and living an artist’s life, no matter your medium of choice. This is the inspiration you need to pick up your pen, watercolors or guitar again. I highly recommend listening to Gilbert read her book on audiobook for a more instructive experience.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I understand that you’re trying to spend your summer away from all reminders of school, including English teacher-approved books. However, this classic set in upstate New York is so immersive, cinematic and beautiful that you forget you’re engaging in “intellectual” literature. Told from the perspective of flailing young adult Nick Carraway, the novel follows Nick’s wealthy neighbor, Jay, his lavish parties and Jay’s love for a girl from his past.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

This middle-grade classic is a must-read for the summer, especially with a TV adaptation on the horizon. Filled with humor, heart and, of course, adventure, this novel follows 12-year-old Percy Jackson whose summer takes an unexpected turn when he finds out the father he never knew is a Greek god. Set in a supernatural summer camp, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” offers all the nostalgia and summer vibes.

With this book list, enjoy the spirit of the season with the simple turn of a page.