It’s Grace, writing to you during session break. I’m currently catatonic on my sister’s couch, listening to some classical music and trying not to fall asleep. Luckily, I have some caffeine and a whole day of lounging around and only feeling vaguely guilty about how much I should be catching up on.
Before I get back into the swing of things, however, I did want to share a post I’ve been working on for a while.
It’s no secret that I’m a rereader. Whether it’s a childhood book or a book linked with a particular atmosphere I want to recall, I love to read books for particular reasons. Even so, those are books that often fly under the radar. Over the past few years, I’ve struggled with how exactly to highlight those books, having felt too close to them to review them so far after reading them for the first time. Considering my gravitation towards photos lately, I thought a great way to spotlight them would be to bring up mood boards again.
These are the underrated ones I read during the summertime if I get the chance, those contemporaries that pull me back to certain associations and settings.
Moonglass by Jessi Kirby | Goodreads
I’m shocked that Moonglass doesn’t get more love. It’s a slim book — and I have the ARC edition, with the tiny purple-blue cover — that has vivid moments in it. Cliff-diving, sundresses, a poignant connection to a lost mother, walks along the beach with the sun rising, scuba-diving in silence, an old man with a tragic tale, a burgeoning relationship with a lifeguard, and of course, seaglass. It’s the beach in the quiet sense of the word. This book perfectly captures that holy sensation of being on the beach when there’s nobody else around, feeling humbled and at peace.
All-American Girl by Meg Cabot | Goodreads
All-American Girl is one of those books I checked out from my school library constantly. Even now, I’m reminded of the taste of lemon drops whenever I crack its spine. Filled with top-ten lists and a biting sense of humor, All-American Girl follows a sarcastic artist who (accidentally) saves the life of the President — and then falls in love with his son. Such a feel-good.
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando | Goodreads
Admittedly, I don’t normally emotionally connect with books told in the third-person. But maybe it’s the timeless, enigmatic feel of this one that captivates me so thoroughly. Old Coney island. Feuding family. Circus freaks. Mermaids. Blurry late-night searches for keys. The sea. Newcomers at a high school. A splash of activism. It touches poignantly on a lot of nostalgic lines and that sense of sadness you get when you walk into aged places and feel the sensation of things you couldn’t possibly have lived through. Colorfully.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills | Goodreads
Art. Jokes with her dad. A funky group of friends. Road trips. Freshness. It’s super witty and light, but also meaningfully tackles a lot of obstacles present in a good ol’ coming-of-age. This is the type of book that makes me want to cry because it’s so warm and full of life. It’s just a really comforting but invigorating read.
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard | Goodreads
Wanderlove reads in simple language, but it’s all the more stunning for its minimalism. It follows a betrayed girl as she treks to find herself in South America. Backpacking, dirt, art, hostels, bike rides around islands with stars like powder. She learns how to let go a little bit, appreciate the nomadic lifestyles of those with whom she surrounds herself with, and to accept the past without letting it consume her. Also, props for no cultural appropriation. I read when I want to get away inside my own head.
How to Love by Katie Cotugno | Goodreads
How to Love is gorgeously written, and strong. I don’t think I’ve ever appreciated a protagonist more than Reena, who deals with unfortunate circumstances with a brave face and an unforeseen grace. Tender family relationships (that can get messy), dimly lit restaurants, old love coupled with complications, complex characters, night drives, head-numbing. Plus, a lot of books focus on girls who have just learned they’re pregnant as teenagers; few focus on life after having a child. It’s an important perspective, and one that Cotugno captures beautifully.
Before I Die by Jenny Downham | Goodreads
If you want a book that will leave you sobbing and cursing the world. Before I Die is one of the most gutting books I’ve ever read, and it simultaneously conveys moments that makes me feel a spectrum of startling, clear emotion that can be unfortunately beautiful at times. The main character is harsh. Often, I wish for a book to make me feel something — anything. This book deals out brutal honesty and unfairness, selfishness, a lot of ugly moments that I wish didn’t exist. But it’s stunning in a cold way.
Speechless by Hannah Harrington | Goodreads
I don’t know where Hannah Harrington went, but I still think about her books. Think Before I Fall, if Sam had gotten the chance for redemption. I don’t remember a ton about it — I just remember how it made me feel, my cue to go back for a reread — but I remember a cozy diner. Detention. A group of friends. Cutting words. Bruises. A moral lesson that resounds in a way that isn’t preachy, but instead affecting. Dry-erase boards, Converse, fumbling conversations towards something resembling forgiveness. I love characters who challenge me.
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols | Goodreads
I reread this one every year at my family’s lake house. It resoundingly conveys that achingly happy feeling of being on a boat with the wind tangling your eyelashes, the scent of gas and sunscreen, the spray of water. I love Lorelei, although she gets so caught up in the boys. I love the playful, fun nature of the sunsets and the wakeboarding and the arcade necklaces. This book is a good time and is escapism at its finest.