What to Read in 2021

When I was a kid, I read as many books as I could. My go-to reading spot was my bed and in the summer you could find me awake until the wee-hours of the morning, finishing up whatever book I was reading. It was my happy place. And there was never a shortage of books.

Flash forward thirty years (fine, maybe it’s forty years, but whatever…), and I still love a good book. I pace myself these days. No more staying up until all hours, not only because I need eight hours of sleep at night to function the next day, but also because I have responsibilities and things to do.

In an effort to read more, I committed to reading a book a month back in January. Click here for the details, but essentially, I’ve been reading a variety of Women’s Fiction sub-genres to discover books that I might not usually read.

Last month I listened to the audiobook version of Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation.  That book inspired me to read more of her work. As I was looking for more novels by Henry, I found Christina Lauren. This all snowballed into reading four books in the span of two weeks. (It also lead to little writing getting done and completely ignoring the aforementioned responsibilities, but that’s okay once in a while, right?)

So for August, here are my four picks!

August pick #1:

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren. The book falls under multiple categories, but Contemporary Women’s Fiction is where I originally found it.

From the author’s website: 

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amelia, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of…lucky.With Christina Lauren’s “uniquely hilarious and touching voice” (Entertainment Weekly), The Unhoneymooners is a fun and charming romance that is perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

My Take:

I have to be honest: I knew what was going to happen by the time I got to page 80. I considered stopping there, but I was having such a fun time with the characters, Olive and Ethan, I kept going. Very glad I did. The story is conflict driven, but it was the realistic characters that drew me in and kept me reading. Olive thinks she knows herself, but does she? And Ethan. Poor Ethan just wanted to do the right thing.

Pick #2

Beach Read by Emily Henry. This is classified under Women’s Historical Fiction, which puzzled me. I get that the main character of the book is writing historical fiction, but why classify the entire book like that? I don’t generally pick up historical fiction so I’m glad I read the book before reading about its sub-genre.

From the author’s website: 

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

My take:

You can enjoy this book whether you are a writer or not (and whether you like historical fiction or not). January’s recent discovery about her parents provides for a soul-searching adventure on its own. Couple that with Gus’ anguish over things in his past, and this book is not-your-typical love story.

Pick #3

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren. This one made me laugh, which is good since it is a Women’s Humorous Fiction book. It took me back to my college years (although I still don’t have the master’s or Ph.D. I thought I would get.)

From the author’s website: 

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spent the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter Catherine—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon Catherine and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship. . . but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

Perfect for fans of Roxanne and She’s the Man, Christina Lauren’s latest romantic comedy is full of mistaken identities, hijinks, and a classic love story with a modern twist. Funny and fresh, you’ll want to swipe right on My Favorite Half-Night Stand.

My take:

This one is so different from the others. It was also the quickest read. Don’t think that’s a bad thing. It has just as much substance as the others but it is written from a lighter tone. That’s why it is in the humorous section. It’s also a funny take on dating in the 21st century. And, the group texts in this book made me laugh so hard I snorted!

And without further ado, book #4:

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren. Again found in the Women’s Humorous Fiction category, this book was less laugh-out-loud and more shake-your-head at the audacity of people.

From the author’s website:

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it becomes clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason…whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

My take:

The fascination with celebrity is a common theme and most likely will never end. This book used the typical and then twisted it into something everyone can relate to. What do you do when someone betrays you? I didn’t like Tate’s dad at all, but I think that was the point of the book. Sometimes your friends are more important than your family.

There you have it! Four books in one month. As much as I want to, I can’t keep up the four-book-a-month pace. The plan for September is one book and one audiobook. But binge reading is something everyone should do once in a while!

Email me your book recommendations at carole@carolewolfe.com. 

Until next time…

Photo by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash