Summer 2021 Reads!


Molly Bomar, Journalist

It’s that time again! The empty days of summer loom ahead and await to be filled with new and beloved books! While I personally cannot wait to clear my head of academics for a few months, I do plan on filling in long afternoons and the occasional roadtrip with a chapter or two. Please feel free to do the same!


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


A refreshingly blunt, honest, and humorous novel tells the story of Eleanor Oliphant, a 30 year-old English woman lacking self awareness and common social skills. As she creates unlikely friendships with complete strangers she challenges her personal quirks and her emotional limits. 


I think most can emphasize, sympathize, and find something in Eleanor, in us. As an eccentric and intelligent character, she often overthinks and fears what her overbearing mother will think of her. Eleanor’s defiance of her mother includes simple actions, like not answering her phone calls or eating at a different time, things most would overlook but for Eleanor, it is her way of life.


While this book does cover depression and the future impact of scarring childhoods, the author aids Eleanor with caring supporting characters, like her kind and honorable co-worker, to lift her up when she’s feeling down. Despite these challenging topics, the book is a light and intriguing read, leaving the reader wanting a sequel. 


South and West by Joan Didion


The award-winning and best selling author does it again! As Didion always carries notebooks with fragments of thoughts, opinions, overheard conversations, and descriptions of locations, the published copy of two different journals intertwine and give the reader a glimpse of 1970’s America. 


During a road trip with her late husband through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, Didion describes entertaining characters and local, small-town gas stations stuck in the thick heat and humidity. 


The last fourth of the book, titled the “California Notes”, was originally written for a Rolling Stone Magazine article, though later abandoned the assignment. Giving a new perspective on her life in California in comparison to the South, Didion writes, “In the South they are convinced that they have bloodied their place with history. In the West we do not believe that anything we do can bloody the land, or change it, or touch it… I am trying to place myself in history.” She recognizes the privilege and self-promotion embedded in the California coast – politically, selfishly, raging with greed and money.


With little plot line, the thin non-fiction book reads like an observational diary with additional southern drawl and politically incorrect opinions, these thought-provoking essays will captivate you and help appreciate the celebrated mind of Joan Didion. 


The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal


I was unaware this book was the seventh in a series titled, “Maggie Hope”, and read it spontaneously with no prior knowledge. While it would probably be helpful to read the previous books beforehand, it isn’t necessary. 


This historical fiction novel tells the story of Maggie, a US undercover spy working in Nazi occupied occupied France during WWII. As Maggie tries to infiltrate intelligence and collect evidence against the Germans, she risks her life in dangerous, socialite circles. 


The engaging female lead will defy all odds in a city of Swastika flags and political affiliations. Along with many unsuspecting characters and a surprising plot twist, this page turner will keep you captivated until the very end. 


I personally enjoyed these books and I hope they will keep you entertained and out of boredom this summer!