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  • Monumental Magazine

Summer Reads to Bring on Your Next Beach Trip

By Annie Shigo

If there was ever a time to pick up a book, it is now. Reading is a nice way to escape the isolation we may feel during times like these. And it is easier than you think with Amazon Prime making books easily available, through two-day shipping or kindle purchases. Here are a few of my top picks:

The Woman in the Window

AJ Finn

Another psychological thriller, this book revolved around Anna Fox, a woman who is confined to her house due to her illness. Anna finds pleasure in spying on her neighbors with her camera. She soon gets a new neighbor, the Russell's, and she strikes up a friendship with the elegant and beautiful wife, Jane. One day while perched by her window she sees something disturbing in the Russel house. Everyone does not believe Anna, and the reader is left to figure out what is real and what is not.

The Vanishing Half

Brit Bennett

This story follows two identical twin sisters, Desiree and Stella, as they grow up in a 1950s community plagued with racism and colorism. The girls eventually go their separate ways and the story transitions to following the tribulations of the children of Desiree and Stella, Jude and Kennedy. This novel features not only explorations of racial oppression and identity but also sexism and homophobia, for a truly powerful account.

We Were Liars

E Lockhart

We Were Liars is set in a sunny town in Martha’s Vineyard, with the twisted and mysterious Sinclair Family. Without giving away too much, this book is about a family tragedy, and one family member is left to pick up the pieces. This book switches between past and present and takes you with the characters as they try to make sense of what happened. With tales of love, lies, and a complicated storyline, it is a must-read. Once you read this book, you will wish you could read it again for the first time.

Under the Tuscan Sun

Frances Mayes

On a much lighter note, this book is a feel-good read. Set in Tuscany, you are taken through the process of building a beautiful home when the main character Frances buys an Italian villa on a whim. The villa is a piece of work, but Frances was up for the challenge and quickly found friends in the people who helped her make it happen. From Italian cuisine to finding love, everything in this book will put a smile on your face. This book is a breath of fresh Tuscan air, perfect to take you away from the boredom that we all are facing right now. (P.S. This is also a great movie!)

All Boys Aren't Blue

George M. Johnson

In this moving compilation of personal prose, Johnson captivates his audiences with the traditionally silenced story of growing up as a Black queer boy. In an author Q&A Johnson says it all: "I've always wished I had a book like this. One where I felt seen on the cover and in every word on the page. I knew there was a story like mine lacking in the world." This true account memoir highlights navigating adolescence, college, and sexual relationships unapologetically.

Then She Was Gone

Lisa Jewel

If you are into crime shows and mysteries, this psychological thriller really has it all. This book plays with your mind in a million different ways, with the storyline taking constant twists and turns. The story begins with the picture of a normal family, until one day the daughter, Ellie, is kidnapped and presumed dead. The mom, Laurel, struggles to cope with her family being ripped apart until she meets a charming man. Laurel soon starts to find striking similarities between Ellie and her boyfriend's daughter.

Love Poems

Nikki Giovanni

If you find yourself seeking some rhyme and rhythm, Love Poems is a great place to start. These passionate verses are all about love, including thought-provoking works such as "I Wrote a Good Omelet." Giovanni is known for her bold writing that has long been inspired by Black artists and activism. These texts are shorter than your typical novel, but they still pack a punch.

Normal People

Sally Rooney

At a modest 270 pages, this book will take you on a journey of experiencing your first love all over again. This book tells the tale of a reclusive girl named Marianne, who everyone sees as a rich snob, and the athletic boy next door Conrad, who is loved by all. They are brought together for a few short hours a week when Conrad goes to Marianne’s house to pick up his mom, who is Marianne’s maid. As the years go on, the audience bears witness to this 21st-century star crossed lovers' tale as the couple goes through college, new loves, and the hardships of life. This book was just made into a TV show, but without a doubt, the book is so much better.

Bonus: If you read Monumental's feature on Danielle Bernstein, check out her new book This Is Not a Fashion Story out now!

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