Ahh Summer. Beachside retreats. Frosty Fruit in hand. Balmy nights with a hint of coconut oil lingering in the air.
But at the crux of it, there’s no greater feeling than cracking the spine of a fresh book, especially when the expanse of summer vacay stretches out before you. You finally have time (and the headspace) to completely immerse yourself into a great book.
So, in the spirit of summer, the Smack Bang Book Club have compiled a list of their favourite reads from 2019 – some old, some new – to channel your perfect summer vacay vibes and find yourselves to perfectly slot into your beach bag, despite likely returning home with sand deeply embedded within the pages and a few greasy fingerprints after reapplying your sunscreen.
What are you waiting for? Head down to your nearest bookshop, or your local library and join us in our favourite summertime ritual: choosing a book (or three) that speaks to your soul.
This one has popped up a few of our lists this year and we are here for it. We will start with The Tattooist of Auschwitz, a compelling and unforgettable story of hope and courage. Based on a series of interviews with Holocaust survivor ‘Lale’. Morris’ accounts on the German war camps were SO insightful, examining human resilience, pain and growth, triumph and love. The story leaves you truly blown away by the human strength and spirit in times of hardship, and allows you to appreciate the life we are privileged to have in today’s society. Cilka’s Journey is the latest release from Morris and follows a character from the first novel and follows similar themes, it will leave you both astonished and uplifted by one woman’s fierce determination to survive against all odds.
It’s a super interesting memoir by Tim Winton, delivering some of his most personal writing to date. Covers intimate and mundane areas of life, he tells the stories of near-fatal road accidents, explores the pleasures of surfing while also addressing chapters on his fight for environmental conservation and various elements of life that have impacted his worldview and in turn, his writing. All of this mixed in with plenty of nostalgic ‘growing up in Australia’ memories.
From the author of Eat Pray Love and Big Magic, we have been gifted this gem of a fiction novel from Gilbert. Based in the 1940’s New York, and ends up living with her unconventional Aunt Peg in the glam-era. It explores sex, infidelity, romance and all things a pending adult goes through in their teen years. The story is packed with terrific characters, gorgeous clothing, great one-liners, wartime atmosphere. Super easy read and the perfect feel-good-summer read for your beach bag.
The most heartbreakingly real, raw book Drou has ever read. “I wanted to do a Joey from friends and put it in the freezer as it just kept getting sadder and sadder, but the brutal honesty of it made it impossible to put down.” Following four young men after graduation, the first fifty or so pages see the characters partaking in your traditional mundane activities. It soon becomes evident soon enough that the author has more in store for these characters. Not a lighthearted read but everyone should read it and this is why. It’s safe to say, you’ve made sure this is the next book to be stacked on my night table.
This book is for the romantic day-dreamer. Filled with warmth and adventure, this book has you longing for Europe. Following the main character, George, on his quest has a beautiful way of seeing the world. The whole book is basically a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives. After visiting the city four times, it’s unsurprising this number is on the top of Ellie’s list “my copy is so full of highlighter I should have simply torn out the 3 pages I didn’t want to revisit”. This book is romantic without being fantastical. It’s real-life, sure, but with an overall artist existence. J’adore Paris.
What starts out as a feel good story of four best friends who go away on a girls trip every year, turns sinister when they all decide to write anonymous letters to each other, revealing their deepest secrets. When Jodie finds an additional cryptic letter about wanting to hurt one of the other friends she makes it her mission to uncover who wrote this fifth letter but in doing so unleashes more than she bargained for. This story will captivate you from the get-go and have you laughing one page and crying the next, it’s an insightful look at life, friendship and relationships.
Think 10 Things I Hate About You meets Love Actually. It’s your classic enemies-to-lovers romance. Set in a publishing company, Lucy and Josh have never liked each other after being forced to work together after a merger. Now, they are up for the same promotion. From the opening page, readers will know the outcome of Lucy and Joshua’s relationship, but the combination of everything in between is completely wonderful – sassy females, charming guy, witty dialogues and a lot of angst and frustration, need I say more? It’s every great rom-com wrapped up in one. It’s truly an unputdownable book that will leave you wanting more.
Another one for my romantic side. This book is dream-like, magical and the perfect blend of fantasy and reality. It completely takes you to another world, one you wish was real, and is your childhood and adult-hood daydreams all at once. Morgenstern’s ability to describe every little thing with such visual beauty is incredible and it is not surprising that she has a degree in theatre. The only book [Ellie has] read three times and there will be a fourth.
Another goodie that has us all on our toes. We’ve been circulating these two goodies around the office so there was no question that this nugget was going to end up on our list. Normal People follows the complicated relationship between the two protagonists – Marianne and Connell – from their late high school days and into their early adulthood. Exploring the intricacies of relationships, connection and communication, discovering who they are, both together and apart. Conversations with Friends follows Frances an aspiring writer and her ex-lover, now best-friend, Bobbi. The two soon find themselves entangled in the world of an older couple – Melissa and Nick. When Frances finds herself kissing Nick at a party, the pair begin a complicated affair. The characters are deeply flawed and at times, unlikeable making this one interesting read. Both books provide a refreshing take on just how messy we as humans really are. Moral of the story. All we want for Christmas is another Sally Rooney book. Please?
From the author of Gone Gone, we are going a little darker on this review. The book follows Libby Day, who was just seven years old when her mother and two sisters were murdered. She survived and testified that her brother Ben, was the killer. 25 years later a secret society obsessed with notorious crimes located Libby to press her for details regarding the night. After new information unfolds, she sets out to uncover the truth, her search takes her all over, and eventually, Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.
I was inspired to read this after watching Melinda’s incredible interview with David Letterman on My Next Guest… The recount of her many stories and the impact of her work hit me right between the eyes (figuratively, thank God). The Moment of Lift has been described as a “lesson in listening” and a “urgent call to courage” and I couldn’t agree more. Post-put down, I was instantly moved to take action, starting with my own life. Putting this book down was like putting my one-year-old down for a nap; painstakingly difficult and often took three attempts.
If there’s one woman to single-handedly inspire be to become a better mother, partner and human this year, it was my own mother, and second to her, it was Michelle Obama. Michelle’s grace, dignity, humility, vibrance and nobility is extraordinarily impressive. She is an icon of our time, and for good reason. Her book, Becoming, is a story of triumphs and hardships told with honesty and reverence. My key takeaway was her steadfast commitment to raising her two daughters with strong value systems, in an incredibly unforgiving context. If she can do it under the glare of the cruel media in the confinements of The White House, surely I can do it in my humble life here on the South Coast.
We are always searching for our next great read so make sure you drop us your favourite book titles below. Now, go forth and get reading!
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