What I’m reading on my summer vacation

Sarah Gelman on July 03, 2019
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What does someone who reads for work bring to read on their vacation? This summer I’m lucky enough to take two weeks off of work for a family vacation, and I plan to spend a lot of it catching up on books I’ve had on my “Want to Read” shelf. Before e-readers were ubiquitous, I used to pack one book for every day of vacation in a black carry-on bag that had the perfect boxy shape into which to cram hardcovers. My definition of anxiety was running out of books. Now I always pack my Kindle when I go on vacation. Rest assured, I have many backups in case I rip through the books below, but these are the first books on my list:


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Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

We picked this book as both a Best Book of the Month and also one of our Best Books of the Year So Far. My colleague Chris wrote in his Best of the Month review: “Mary Beth Keane is a fantastic writer.” This line alone makes me want to read this book, but it doesn’t hurt that I love a family saga, especially one that takes place over decades. (Claire Lombardo’s July debut, The Most Fun We Ever Had, is another family saga that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.)


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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This sophomore novel by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee was a Finalist for the National Book Award. It also ranks high on the list of “books I’m slightly ashamed I haven’t yet read.” Have I mentioned I love multigenerational sagas? This one follows a Korean family who immigrates to Japan and is just the kind of thick novel that makes me love my Kindle even more.


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Normal People by Sally Rooney

Let me tell you a story. I had a baby last year, went on maternity leave, and came back, and this book was everywhere! What else did I miss while in the throes of newborn-hood? Is “fetch” a thing now? I have major book FOMO with Rooney’s latest novel, and I’ve been saving this one for vacation.


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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Once upon a time, I only brought stereotypical “beach reads” on vacation. But everyone from our editors to Jenna Bush Hager have been debating what a beach read is. Red, White & Royal Blue is a throwback to the beach reads of my 20s: fun and romantic, and with a pink jacket, to boot. The President’s son and a British prince fall in love? If you need me, I’ll be hiding under my umbrella on the beach, reading.


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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Everyone except for me has read this best-selling memoir that came out in 2005 and has since been turned into a movie. I purchased the book in 2011 (thanks for the reminder, Amazon!) but haven’t cracked it yet. My prediction is I read it, love it, and want to talk to everyone about it like I’m the one who just discovered it. Consider yourself warned, friends and family.


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Surfside Sisters by Nancy Thayer

I am slightly obsessed with Nantucket after reading everything Elin Hilderbrand has written, so I’ve been plowing through another Nantucket novelist’s works whenever I get the chance. Nancy Thayer’s latest is about a Manhattan-dwelling novelist who returns to her home on Nantucket for some soul-searching. I loved Thayer’s last novel, Nantucket Wedding, and have high hopes that this one will scratch my Nantucket itch.


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