Whether you’re hitting the beach or have some long plane rides ahead of you, chances are the summer will present some great summer reading opportunities!
In case you’re in need of some major summer reading inspo, mama, our multi-national team has contributed our top picks (one serious, one breezy beach read) — without one single overlap among us! From a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice to a sob-worthy memoir by a brilliant young surgeon with terminal cancer, we’re sure to have something to pique everyone’s fancy. Fire up those Kindles, have a look, and let us know what we’ve missed on Facebook!
Serious read: This Indonesian novel is meant to combine history, violence, humour and a bit of magical realism into something completely stunning and fresh. I love discovering perspectives completely different from my own, particularly with a country and history that are so close by yet I feel like I know very little about.
Available on Amazon.com for US$8.99 (Kindle) / US$12.46 (paperback)
Beach read: I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel Prep, but must admit I’m incredibly intrigued to see how she’s made one of my favourite Jane Austen novels into basically a sharp romantic comedy. This one’s gotten strong buzz from all my friends in the U.S.!
Available on Amazon.com for US$13.99 (Kindle) / US$15.60 (hardcover)
Serious read: I think this one falls somewhere between serious and beach read, it is a nonfiction but sounds like the kind of book I won’t be able to put down. In 1871, five young girls were sent by the Japanese government to the United States. Their mission: learn Western ways and return to help nurture a new generation of enlightened men to lead Japan.
Available on Amazon.com for US$11.23
Beach read: This book has been on my radar since I saw it at an airport bookshop about two months ago. It’s a a psychological thriller novel by British author Paula Hawkins. It was published in 2015 and remained No. 1 on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers list for about 13 weeks! I’m in!
Available on Amazon.com for US$9.41 (paperback) and US$16.17 (hardcover)
Serious read: Memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question, What makes a life worth living?
Available at Kinokuniya for S$20.76.
Beach read: From a powerful and distinctive new voice, Bitter Fruits hits that sweet spot where campus mysteries cross with psychological thrillers.
Available at Amazon.com for US$6.25.
Serious read: Okay, this one is on the humorous side, so perhaps not that serious a read, but it makes a statement about the abundance of money (especially in Asia) in 2016. The sequel to Singaporean author Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians.
Available at Kinokuniya for S$29.
Beach read: I’m a sucker for stand-up comedy, so when I discovered Aziz Ansari had written a book on dating in the digital age, I had to get my hands on it and check out his insights. Written with the help of sociologist Eric Klinenberg, there are interesting – and real – factoids about couples now vs. 50 years ago, all peppered with Ansari’s deadpan humour.
Available at Kinokuniya for S$34.78.
Beach read: This book was on the free-reading shelf at Sea Gypsy Resort on Sibu Island, Malaysia – a place where you are literally disconnected from the world (no Wi-Fi, no phone signal, no aircon, no hot water – WHAT?!). One of the parents picked up this book and gave it a glowing review; written by Peter Benchley (of Jaws fame), The Island is the story of a divorced father who takes his son on a remote island vacation where are captured by pirates. Spooky!
Available on Amazon.com for US$34.94.
Serious read: “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”
So begins this epic, mesmerizing first novel set in the underworld of contemporary Bombay. Narrated by an escaped convict with a false passport who flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of a city where he can disappear, Shantaram capture all that is remarkable about Bombay: Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and Mujaheddin guerrillas—this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and passionate love to boot!
Available on Amazon.com for US$9.06 (Kindle) and US$10.71 (paperback.
Beach read: How come French babies sleep through the night? Why do French children happily eat what is put in front of them? Pamela Druckerman, who lives in Paris with three young children, has had years of observing her French friends and neighbours, and with wit and style, has written a memoir that is ideally placed to teach us the basics of parenting a la francaise.
*This comprises the food-specific chapters of Druckerman’s best-selling Bringing Up Bebe
Available on Amazon.com for US$6.34 (hardcover).
Serious read: A story about three grown sisters whose parents have just gone through a divorce. The blurb for this book felt so familiar to my own family’s background, especially about reconnecting with family after drifting apart for too long (feeling a little sentimental thanks to Hari Raya coming up, obviously). I’m looking forward to diving into this over the summer!
Available on Amazon.com for$14.57 (hardcover) / US$10.99 (Kindle)
Beach read: Yes I know the movie’s already out in theatres but I still want to get through this book first! I have a weakness for romance novels (especially if they’re British) and the fact that this one involves a guy who’s paralysed from his neck down and falls in love with a colourful young woman who ends up caring for him, takes the cake.
Available at Kinokuniya for S$17.66
Serious read: I’m planning to read Don Quixote – I just finished The Count of Monte Cristo and was amazed how gripping it was. It really hasn’t dated all that much, and it’s super-long which is fantastic when you’re really into a book. It has given me a bit of a renewed interest in reading classics again!
Available on Amazon.com for US$10.72.
Beach read: I really liked her first book Vacationers because it was so perfect for a European holiday trip – pleasantly fluffy and easy to read but with some depth, and I can’t wait to dip into her new novel about two families living in Brooklyn.
Available on Amazon.com for US$12.99 (Kindle) / US$15.60 (hardcover).
Serious read: Maybe a bit too serious but I’m reading The Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings by David F. Lancy. It’s SOOOOO interesting because it gives us a different perspective on how children are viewed in different societies, and also through time. And how they’ve come to be viewed as our “special little snowflakes” in modern society today. I’m barely 1/3 through it but it’s very educational.
Available on Amazon.com for US$13.35.
Beach read: Catcher in the Rye because I love classics and haven’t read this one yet. Also been watching a new series with the other half called 11.22.63 and in the episode I watched last night, the main character, a literature teacher, mentions this book and I realised Wait, I haven’t read this one yet – so I wanna read it now!
Available at Kinokunya for S$16.05.