Morning Buzz

Buzzy Books of Summer 2020

Cindy Burnett
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Catherine Gentry

Local author Catherine Gentry enjoys reading in the genre she writes in to gain insight and put her in a similar mindset. 

Every summer, there are one or two books that seem to be everywhere – prominently highlighted at bookstores, mentioned in the press and on social media or recommended by friends.  While this summer is very different than any other, I still wanted to see if such a book(s) existed for summer 2020.  I polled readers and interviewed several Buzz-area residents to learn about what their latest reading recommendations.

While people suggested all sorts of great reads (I list below anything that was mentioned more than once and was published in 2020), the two that I consistently heard mentioned were: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and 28 Summers by Elin Hildebrand. I have read The Vanishing Half and loved it, but I have not read 28 Summers yet. Our literary salon hosted Elin last October, and we did get a small (sadly, unnamed) shout-out in her Acknowledgments section at the end of this latest novel. 

Recommendations from Buzz readers:

Michelle Juden: Book reviewer and blogger Michelle Juden said, “I did not know what to expect when I started The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, but whatever my expectations were, they were exceeded multiple times over! Bennett devised a very complicated plot and executed it beautifully through multiple points-of-view and timelines. The racial and relationship themes are deep and thoughtful and the characters are so very well developed that I loved them all!”

Amanda McGee: Amanda, an avid reader and big fan of Elin Hildebrand (and the first person to tell me about our shout out), said: “28 Summers is Elin Hildebrand’s best yet. It is uniquely written, each chapter is one of the 28 summers. She starts each chapter with highlights from that year so it was fun to be reminded of songs (added to my iTunes playlist as I read), books, TV shows, big news stories, etc. You fall in love with the characters and their commitment to Same Time Next Year.”

Andrea Link: Andrea recommends Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram Kendi. She said, “It is a harrowing read, but I have never seen the history of racist thought laid out so clearly and comprehensively. Kendi writes that we have all gotten the sequence of events in history of racism wrong -  he postulates that racial discrimination was instituted because it benefited the race in power and that led to racist ideas to justify those policies, which led to ignorance and hate.” 

Catherine Gentry: Catherine, a Houston author, says “When I'm not working on my own novel, I'm trying to find books that put me in the same mindset - women's fiction about growth and change, light hearted and transformative. Katherine Center's What You Wish For and Beach Read by Emily Henry. I finally got to read The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo, and I'm looking forward to Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel. For a slightly different theme, there are Kevin Kwan's Sex and Vanity and Hank Green's A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor. I love reading and hearing about your best reads!”

More reading suggestions

Amanda McGee

Amanda McGee is a big fan of Elin Hildebrand and loved her latest book, 28 Summers

The following books are ones that people listed more than once and were published in 2020:

  • American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry (a June Buzz Reads pick)
  • Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey (a May Buzz Reads pick)
  • The Big Finish by Brooke Fossey (a May Buzz Reads pick)
  • Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
  • Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan
  • Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore (a May Buzz Reads pick)
  • My Kind of People by Lisa Duffy
  • The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larsen

I loved hearing everyone’s favorite reads for 2020! I hope everyone is safe and well.

Conversations from a Page is hosting a Curated Book Discussion over Zoom for Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 11 a.m. CST. (cost-$5 or $30 for an annual pass). For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram, the Continuing the Conversation newsletter, or Cindy’s Reading Recs.

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