Pearls & Vodka

Books recommended to me by Sarah Jessica Parker, Reese Witherspoon and Bill Gates…

We are one month into summer, how many books have you read? For those of you with school-aged kiddos, we are 1/3 of the way through their “vacation.” Bless you, may God give you strength and patience as you endure this trial.

My friends pretty regularly send texts on our group text asking for book recommendations from one another, or podcast suggestions, and I see similar requests online pretty frequently.

So I thought, as my gift to you, I’d give you my top three books for your summer enjoyment. As a PSA, this is not an advertisement for any author. I’ve not been paid. However, if you find yourself on this post and want to pay me, please send me a message and I’ll gladly share my address or PayPal account.

Without further adieu, here goes nothing…

What book pages have I been turning this summer?

Truth be told, I have a solid love affair going on with books and reading in general. I love learning. I love getting lost in a story. I love being challenged. I love getting emotionally attached to characters. I love holding my breath in suspense. I love crying as I turn the pages of a heartbreaking tale. I’m here for it all. Below you will find my top three book suggestions, so far, this summer. This could very well change by tomorrow, but for now, this is my list and in no particular order.

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza.

I found this book thanks to my good friend Sarah Jessica Parker. OK, maybe not “good” friend. But I spent years watching Sex in the City and I feel that Carrie Bradshaw and I are friends who never took time out of our busy schedules to meet. But in early June, Lauren Christensen of the New York Times told readers about this book and the fun fact, it was the first title published under Sarah Jessica Parker’s SJP at Hogarth Publishing. So see, SJP did in fact pass this incredible work of fiction along to me. Told you.

Mirza’s first work is a smashing success in my book.  A Place for Us title comes from some lyrics from the iconic Westside Story, Somewhere.” 

Rafiq and Layla are a Muslim-Indian immigrant couple living in California, raising their three children. The plight of their family is centered around trying to reconcile their non-Western values and customs with that of 21st century, suburban America. Woven throughout the tale is the story of their son, Amar. He is on his life’s journey of trying to find “a place.” This book has the quintessential nostalgic tones in telling the story of Rafiq and Layla’s courtship back in India, to tales of the children’s upbringing. There are tensions throughout the novel that keep you turning the page. Amar’s quest is a pillar throughout the book. There is love. There is loss. There is heartbreak. There’s a bit of history as the story follows the attacks of 9/11. There’s the struggle with religion and beliefs.

It truly has it all!

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My other good friend, Reese Witherspoon recommended this book to me. “Solve for X” is a phrase you’ll see repeatedly in this book. The main character is a young socialite named Charlotte “Charlie” St. Clair. The book is set in the aftermath of World War II. On the verge of being kicked out of her well-to-do family for being unmarried and pregnant, Charlie sets off on an adventure with a veteran female spy and a young soldier with a vicious temper. Sent to Europe to deal with her “little problem” as her pregnancy is referred to, Charlie and Eve, a veteran espionage agent, begin searching for Charlie’s cousin Rose, lost somewhere in Europe.

There are alternating worlds represented throughout the book flashing between both World Wars and following the exploits of Eve in what was known as “The Alice Network” a faction of spies, that is actually historically accurate.

There’s adventure, heartbreak, mystery and suspense with great characters.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

My days working in politics have been over for going on ten years now, which seems so long ago now. I’ve always loved politics though, and likely, if today’s society doesn’t stomp it out of me, always will.

Saunders novel is incredibly riveting to me as a fan of history and politics. I’m sure you are thinking, “hasn’t every book about Abraham Lincoln been written?” And there are some great ones. But this one is no different.

My ol’ buddy Bill Gates recommended this one, but truth be told, he must have gotten it from me because I was way ahead of him on this book.

This book is a great blend of historical facts from the Civil War and fantasy. I know some of you are thinking,  “come on Mandy, I’m not a history buff like you.” And you don’t have to be. This book is centered around a super, long conversation with around 166 ghosts. Yep ghosts. And not in the creepy way. But the book examines the grief that Lincoln faced in his life with the loss of his son (one of the ghosts) and the responsibility he had as the leader of the country.

It is fantastic and really gives a different look into the life of one of our nation’s most storied figures.

There ya have it folks, my favorites so far this summer.

Did I not mention any books to pique your interest?

There’s some other folks out there who create great lists of books to read, maybe they’ll have something that tickles your fancy.

Go check out:

Modern Mrs. Darcy

Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club

Oprah’s Book Club

Jimmy Fallon’s Book Club

And if you want to check out some books I recommended in 2017, you can check out this blog post.

Happy reading y’all!

Photo by Link Hoang on Unsplash

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