Summer Reads (That Aren’t Romance)

August is upon us, and despite how quickly the summer seems to be flying away, don’t you dare let anyone tell you it’s over! It’s not too late to cram in your last summer reads, and in true Sydney (that’s me, if you didn’t know) fashion, I’ve got three micro-reviews of my recent favorites.

But here’s the thing: I don’t believe in “summer reads” that are all throbbing numbers and creamy bosoms. I like a summer read that makes you think, but isn’t unnecessarily convoluted. (You won’t see Nicholas Sparks or Billy Faulkner on this little list.)

In short, I prefer a read that celebrates life while still embracing its ugliness (and sometimes a little of its sexiness – I’m still human).

So here are three super-speedy book recs to squeeze into your summer! Go! Read! Now!!!


The Strays, Emily Bitto

Genre. Fiction
Synopsis. A girl named Lily befriends the daughter of an artist. The artist becomes the driving force behind the avant-garde art movement in Depression-era Melbourne, and Lily becomes an onlooker to Bohemian lives of decadent chaos. As an adult, she looks back on that friendship with a dark regret.
Read if. You love literary fiction, damaged characters with big personalities, and stories about female friendship.



Standard Deviation, Katherine Heiny

Genre. Fiction
Synopsis. Man has an affair with younger woman. Man marries younger woman. Younger woman is the most wonderful, extreme, colorful personality you can ever imagine still loving. Man and younger woman raise sweet, perceptive son who has autism and loves origami.
Read if. You like stories that are funny. With domestic humor on every page, this is probably an especially funny book for parents (I’m a 24-year old with no kids and I still loved it, though).



The Mothers, Brit Bennett

Genre. Fiction
Synopsis. Oceanside, California is home to 17-year-old Nadia Turner, who’s recently lost her mother, discovered her beauty, and made a decision that follows her into adulthood. Oceanside is also home to a church community that keeps its secrets. But Nadia’s secrets threaten to tear the church apart.
Read if. You’re looking for a story with lovely prose and a unique narrative style. OR if you’re looking for an intimate perspective of black America that isn’t presented through a white lens. OR if you just like reading the book before seeing the movie – Warner Bros. has optioned the novel!



Tracks, Robyn Davidson

Genre. Memoir
Synopsis. Robyn Davidson leaves her comfortable home in Queensland with a half-baked plan to train some camels to carry her gear and march them 1,700 miles across the Australian outback. She arrives in Alice Springs with her dog, basically no money, and zero experience with camels. Then she turns the dream into reality.
Read if. You love real-life stories of incredible adventure written by incredible people (who happen to be incredible writers).


Looking for more book suggestions?
Check the running list of books I’ve read this year!

2 thoughts on “Summer Reads (That Aren’t Romance)

  1. I love how you managed to capture each book’s essence in rather brief descriptions! All the books sound rather tempting and I keep telling myself I should read another one this summer.. 🙂


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