These Literary Reads are the ones with beautiful writing, the ones that explore the human condition through fiction. These are books to really sink your teeth into this summer – books for the devoted readers.
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
I thought this book was brilliant and thought provoking and even though I read it a year ago, I still find myself talking about it often.
This book is set in the war torn Balkan countries and weaves between the past and present, legend and family history. It follows two generations of doctors in a family, the Grandfather and his granddaughter as their lives and histories are embroidered together. It’s absolutely beautiful writing and I love the way legend is such a rich part of the story and their lives. (This is a really good audiobook too!)
The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
This book, set in Malaysia, tells the story of Yun Ling Teoh, a scarred survivor of the brutal Japanese wartime camps. Her story is told, in both the past and present, from a Japanese garden in Malaya as Yun Ling apprentices a famed Japanese gardener.
This is a book about war, about forgiveness, about loss, and about healing. It’s a book that should be experienced slowly and completely.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
I thought this was such a lovely read. It’s set in the American West at the turn of the twentieth century. A solitary orchardist takes in two runaway teenage girls and though their pasts and the futures are full of tragedies, the orchardist and the novel are so big hearted.
This one is an emotional read so be prepared to have your heartstrings pulled.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This is beautiful historical fiction, if that’s your sort of thing. It’s World War II, Nazi occupied Paris and a small mining town in Germany. An orphan and a blind girl cross paths in unexpected and beautiful ways. It’s lovely writing that I enjoyed from cover to cover. Plus, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year so it’s one that people are going to be talking about for a while.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This book is fantastic! Ursula Todd dies shortly after birth in 1910, but she lives and dies again and again as the book goes on. Think Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors, but with beautiful prose and the perfect touch of World War II historical fiction thrown in. I hardly ever re-read books, but I’d really like to read this one again someday soon.
Tenth of December by George Saunders
With a few exceptions, I don’t really love short story collections. That being said, this particular collection of short stories is wonderful. This is just really great writing, which means it is also really good reading. The New York Times Magazine declared this the “best book you’ll read this year” back in 2013 so if you haven’t read it yet . . .
Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
No literary book list would be complete without a great classic and this is my top pick. I try to re-read this every few years just for a good reminder of what perfect writing looks like. I love Thackeray’s humor as well as his clever insight into human nature. This is one of the all time greats and perfect for a good summer read!