If you’ve ever met me, then you know I’m never at a loss for words when it comes to discussing “can’t-put-down, oh-my-goodness, this is the best book I’ve ever read” literature.
In fact, let’s jump past formal greetings and answer the question I’m asked on a daily basis. My favorite books are “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett, and whatever novel I just read and couldn’t put down, so I guess you will just have to ask me.
Having my nose in a book was just one of the many reasons I decided to leave my corporate communications career and follow my passion to the most amazing independent bookstore in the world — Sundog Books. Every day feels like a “pinch me” moment now that I get to spend my time discussing fantastic plots and intriguing authors, and fawning over great literature all day long, all while sipping a latte.
Let me arm you with a few choice beach reads while you visit during my favorite time of the year. These books are ideal for sandy toes and wicked tan lines while fostering the vacationing spirit.
Grab a cup of coffee from Modica Market (medium latte with oat milk for me. Don’t forget to tip the barista and say hello to Carmel and Charlie) and swing by the bookstore to say hello.
Our staff at Sundog Books would love to help you find the perfect story to accompany your adventures. And in case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and good night!
“The Paris Apartment” by Lucy Foley
Paris setting? Oui. Psychological crime drama? You had me at hello. Descriptive writing that makes you feel like you’re there? Say no more, I’m wearing a beret and sipping a latte now. I have to be vague about this storyline because how it unfolds is the real kicker. Suffice to say that inside a Paris apartment resides a socialite, a nice guy, an alcoholic, a girl on the verge and a concierge. Everyone’s a neighbor and a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling. If you need a book you literally cannot put down, pick this up. Prepare to become a full-fledged Lucy Foley fangirl.
“One Italian Summer” by Rebecca Serle
When one of my favorite chick-lit authors selects Italy for her next adventure, how could I say no? Whether you’ve been to the Amalfi Coast or not, this book transports you to the one-of-a-kind coastline. A pretty affordable vacation, right? At the center of this story is the relationship between a mother and daughter. This book will break you and put you back together, one tear stained tissue at a time. Oh, and your mother said to call her. Now.
“The Golden Couple” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Ever been to marriage therapy? Get ready for that experience— with a twist. I’ve really enjoyed this co-writing team’s past psychological thrillers (especially “The Wife Between Us”), so this was required reading for me, and boy did it deliver. I love it when women write, work and produce amazing lit together. The twists and turns in this seemingly perfect couples’ marriage are epic. It’s definitely a big step up from so many “popcorn psychological thrillers” out there, and the novel has serious teeth. I loved the therapist and patient relationship — much like “The Silent Patient” — and the idea of lifting the curtain to the science of behavioral therapy. It’s like free therapy for the reader. All in all, a solid five stars for this marital crisis.
“These Precious Days” by Ann Patchett
Have you ever had an author crush? Ann Patchett is mine. I mean, she owns a bookstore in Nashville and has a down-to-earth, elegant writing style. In reading this short story collection, Ann becomes a dear friend with her reflective stories about friendship, life and the passing of time. If ever there is a book that inspires me to also pick up the pen and write my own story, this is it. Bonus, this collection of stories earns “perfect beach read” status, given that you can jump in and out of it, much like the rolling tide (settle down Alabama fans, it was just a wave reference).
“How High We Go in the Dark” by Sequoia Nagamatsu
Calling all sci-fi fans. This devastatingly good realistic dystopian debut novel rocked my world. If you love “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel, this book is for you. Opening in a pandemic world in the 2030s and spanning hundreds of years into the future, the way the author brilliantly weaves this tale together is mind blowing. While the topic is heavy, the story is essentially about how each of us has similar needs, wants and desires even when facing the worst of circumstances. This is going to be one of the standouts of 2022. Sci-fi reader or not, this should not be missed and would make a wildly different and intriguing book club discussion.
“The Maid” by Nita Prose
Do you need a cozy mystery wrapped up in dark comedy with a touch of thriller energy? Look no further. Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is raving about this book, and with good reason. It is fast paced and delightful. “The Maid” is a clever story about a hotel housekeeper who gets entangled in an unfortunate situation involving a murder of a guest. But alas, I can’t say more. Who wants to spoil a delightful whodunit mystery? This would be a perfect “sandwich” book for in-between heavier reads. And with the incredibly unique lead character, I imagine we will see this story on the big screen very soon.
“Violeta” by Isabel Allende
Imagine living 100 years, the span of a century, and trying to communicate the fullness of your life to your grandchild. What would you say to them? Isabel Allende’s newest historical fiction starts in the 1920s and continues to 2020, much like a memoir with the level of detail and description. This author is known for her gift of immersing the reader into the story and sweeping you away, and “Violeta” is just that — a delicious historical fiction escape into the ever-change world of the greatest generation ever known.
“Reminders of Him” by Colleen Hoover
If there was a queen of the modern-day romance, then all hail Colleen Hoover. We repeatedly sell out of anything she pens. I’m pretty sure I could sell her scrap notes if bound with a pretty cover. “Reminders of Him” delivers all the greatness we’ve come to expect from her novels — deep feelings, emotional romance, heartbreaking relationships and epic love stories. I featured this on my book blog and a friend immediately snagged it. She messaged me, “Finished in two days! It was fantastic!” I’m pretty sure her children were sent out to pasture and the house was in shambles. There is glitter within the pages of any Colleen Hoover novel and if you need the equivalent of a “book hug,” jump into this new release, but please, don’t forget the whole box of Kleenex.
“The Paris Bookseller” by Kerri Maher
While Sundog Books is hands down my favorite bookstore ever, there is a close second — Shakespeare and Company in Paris, France. If you’ve been there, then you know first-hand about the enchantment that lies within the walls of this historic and charming English literature bookstore in the very heart of the city of lights. Maher’s newest historical fiction novel tells the story of how Shakespeare and Company — founded in 1919 — came to be when the feisty American booklover Sylvia Beach dared to try something new. If you love books and enjoy learning about strong young women with a can-do attitude rising above extreme challenges, then please pick this up. But be prepared to buy a plane ticket to Paris after reading the first chapter. Tell them Michelle from Sundog Books says hello and ask for the Shakespeare and Company book stamp for your purchases. I treasure mine.
You can follow her on Instagram at @thebookdarlingblog and join the virtual booklovers discussion. She specializes in reviewing adult and children’s literature. When not bantering with customers, Michelle spends an exorbitant amount of time curating her recommendations shelf at Sundog Books — so please be sure to check it out if she’s not in-store during your visit or you are looking for your next great story.