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Grab a Good Book (or Two) for Memorial Day Weekend

Cindy Burnett
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Memorial Day reads

Plan ahead for the holiday weekend with these book recommendations. 

While Memorial Day is not until Monday, May 25, I decided to recommend books to read for the holiday weekend now since tracking down specific books can be a little trickier right now. This Memorial Day 2020 will be different than in previous years for most people because there is still so much uncertainty and everyone has a different comfort level right now. So whether you are traveling or soaking up the sun in the backyard, I have compiled a varied list of books that includes something for everyone.

Looking for an enthralling historical fiction or contemporary story? Then try:

  • Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (paperback) – Meet Me at the Museum is told solely through letters between Tina Hopgood, a farmer’s wife in England, and Anders Larsen, the curator at a Danish museum. As they continue to write back and forth to each other, their lives, loves and losses are unveiled to each other and the reader. Youngson’s writing is thoughtful and lyrical, and her reflections on life and the passage of time are captivating. Meet Me at the Museum is well worth the read.
  • The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (hardcover) – The Dearly Beloved is a stunningly beautiful book – incredibly thought-provoking and lyrically written. Through her four vastly different main characters, Wall delves into what it means to be human: making connections, helping others, exploring faith and maintaining relationships. And she sets the main portions of this saga against the backdrop of Greenwich Village in the 1960s and 1970s – decades of immense change and turbulence. 
  • City of Flickering Light by Juliette Fay (paperback) - Juliette Fay’s new historical fiction novel about Golden Age Hollywood is a gem from start to finish. Fay clearly did her research and includes cameos from a variety of famous silent film stars and others involved in the early “flickers” business. I highly recommend this novel especially if you love this era in Hollywood.

Want to stay up late with a page-turning thriller? Then try:

  • The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (paperback) - The Last Time I Lied is set at a summer camp for girls called Camp Nightingale. The dual timeline plot alternates between 15 years ago and present day. In the earlier time period, Emma Davis shared a cabin with three girls who disappeared early morning on July 5 and never resurfaced. In the present-day tale, Emma is asked to return to the newly-reopened camp to teach art. While she is hesitant to return, Emma also wants to solve the mystery of her missing cabin mates. Sager masterfully paces the story so that little tidbits of information are slowly released constantly shifting the reader’s idea of what might have happened. Every time I thought I had it figured out, another detail surfaced that poked a hole in my latest theory.
  • Girls Like Us by Cristina Alger (paperback) - Girls Like Us stars FBI agent Nell Flynn who has come to Suffolk County, in Long Island, New York, to handle her homicide detective father’s affairs following his untimely death. Soon after she arrives, the local police force asks her to consult on a case involving the deaths of two young women. The more she investigates, the more Nell becomes convinced that her father was involved in their deaths and that someone is covering up his tracks. Alger’s carefully-crafted characters almost leap off the page, and the tense, taut storyline kept me on the edge of my seat.

Seeking an engaging non-fiction book? Then try:

  • Dirt: Adventures in Lyon as a Chef in Training, Father, and Sleuth Looking for the Secret of French Cooking by Bill Buford (hardcover) – Dirt details Bill Buford’s determination to succeed in the world of French haute cuisine. With his wife and 3-year old twins in tow, Buford moves to Lyon, France to study at L’Institut Bocuse and soon finds himself obsessed with proving that he can succeed. Brimming with humor and adventure, Dirt is a highly entertaining read.
  • The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck (hardcover) – Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Forces recruited women to aid the war effort. When the war was over, the Women Airforce Service pilots (WASP) program dissolved, and these women’s contributions were left out of the history books. Landdeck's fascinating and meticulously researched book brings to life the forgotten stories of a group of women who played a significant role in helping win World War II. 
  • Don’t Make Me Pull Over by Richard Ratay (paperback) - Don’t Make Me Pull Over is a tribute to the American family road trip, but the book encompasses a whole host of topics – 1960s and 1970s pop culture, the history of roads in the U.S. including the creation of interstate highways, a short look at airline regulation and eventually deregulation, the development of motels, the creation of the drive-through, and so much more. Ratay effectively weaves in fascinating factual detail providing information on whichever topic he has introduced. The result is a compulsive and highly-entertaining read that kept me turning pages late into the night to finish it. 

Hoping to relax with a fun beach read? Then try:

  • Beach Read by Emily Henry (paperback) - Beach Read follows two writers, a romance novelist and an author of literary fiction, who are both impeded by writer’s block and struggling to meet looming deadlines. Polar opposites, January and Augustus are thrown together when they rent neighboring beach houses. Late one evening, they agree to swap genres. January will write a heavy drama, and Augustus will compose a happily-ever-after story. This book is a ton of fun and will live up to its name and make a fabulous beach read.
  • Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton (paperback) - Glory Road is a sweet, entertaining story about three generations of women, and the summer that changed their lives forever. I loved Denton’s strong Southern female characters who I rooted for the entire tale. This is a great summer vacation read.

I denoted whether the book is a paperback or a hardcover because some people really prefer one over the other. Have a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Bored at home and want to discuss books with people over Zoom or are you looking for an online book club? Conversations from a Page has launched a Curated Book Discussion program. (cost-$5 or $30 for an annual pass). Email [email protected] for more info. 

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram, sign up for the Continuing the Conversation newsletter (https://www.cfapage.net/subscribe) or Cindy’s Reading Recs. https://www.cfapage.net/reading-recs.

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