I walk, cook, FaceTime with my granddaughter, and play an occasional game of golf. And read. When I can’t travel and explore like I used to, books are my next favorite way to escape to unfamiliar destinations and immerse myself in the local culture. Here are some of my favorite book choices this year. 

Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis does it again! I’m a huge fan of this historical fiction author and her books centered around iconic New York City landmarks. Nowadays, when I hesitate to board planes and trains, I loved traveling to the Big Apple via Fiona’s fifth novel. 

Using a dual timeline, The Lions of Fifth Avenue revolves around two strong women and the thefts of rare and valuable books from the New York Public Library. Readers will meet a superintendent and his family who live, surrounded by rooms of books, in this grand building. 

Not everyone may love the choices Sadie and Laura make along the way. But isn’t that what books are for? To open our eyes and minds to ways of life not familiar to us?

Somewhere in the Dark by RJ Jacobs

In these times of social isolation and bad news from every angle, I needed Jessie. Although she walks into mistakes over and over again, I rooted for her every step of the way. I cheered her on. As she re-emerges into life, after an unimaginable ordeal, Jessie does the best she can.

Author RJ Jacobs, a Nashville psychologist, helps us contemplate why people do the things they do. Perhaps, with the hand they’ve been dealt, life leaves them no other choices.

This twisting mystery focuses on the lasting effects of trauma and abuse. Do our past mistakes or experiences continue to haunt us long after we’ve corrected our behavior?

We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

Do we always want what we think we want? 

If you enjoy historical fiction, here’s a novel you’ll devour. In We Came Here to Shine, Susie Orman Schnall escorts us to the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, New York. 

Max had planned to work at a fancy newspaper office for the summer. Instead, she’s an intern for the fair’s daily newspaper. Vivi, an aspiring actress, was pulled from Hollywood to perform in the fair’s highly-touted synchronized swimming extravaganza. 

Sometimes, the plans we meticulously arrange don’t work out. And that ends up for the best. When they “open their eyes and let down their guard,” Vivi and Max learn what matters most. 

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

Did you ever wish you could disappear from your life for a day or a week or a month? Or maybe forever? This fast-paced novel was addictive – I could not put it down. Another reminder that life is not always as it seems.

Claire wants out of her seemingly perfect and privileged life. Eva wants to flee a dangerous career. A chance meeting gives both women the opportunity to fulfill their desires. 

It won’t surprise me if this psychological thriller becomes a movie. So be sure to read the book first!

The Operator by Gretchen Berg

If you remember party lines and telephone prefixes (Fleetwood 7, Melrose 8 – anyone?) you’ll enjoy this easy, breezy, summer read. 

It’s 1952, and Vivian works as a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio. Part of the fun is to eavesdrop on the conversations in her small town. Until the day she overhears someone gossiping about her. Then it’s not so fun anymore. 

As she chips away at the truth, and more secrets are revealed, Vivian bakes up a storm to stay calm. And shares those recipes with her readers. A light look at life in 1940s’ and 1950s’ America and a perfect read for a day by the pool.

Do you read on a device, or do you prefer an actual book? Have you read any of these books? What recommendations do you have for the summer? Which genre do you prefer? Let’s talk books!

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