Light reading

Good books for the beach or the backyard
Adobe iStock image.

For most of us, this is not the season for War and Peace. Late sunsets beckon, time reading at the beach must alternate with swims, and we have berries to pick. So we asked the staff of The Bookman in Grand Haven to recommend some books for summer that are engaging and light, but thought-provoking and memorable, too. 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue (2020)
In an act of desperation, a young woman makes a bargain with God so that she may live forever. The only catch is that she’s immediately forgotten by every person she meets. V. E. Schwab’s captivating fantasy epic spanning 500 years is a beautiful examination of what it means to be truly alone. This gender-swapped Faustian story has beautiful language and an engaging story.

Stack of books. Photo by Lisa Enos.

Firekeeper’s Daughter (2021)
Author Angeline Boulley is a registered member of a Chippewa Tribe in Michigan, and her debut novel tells a story of her Ojibwe community. A teenage girl feels out of place both in the city and on a nearby Ojibwe reservation.  But when she’s thrust into the middle of an FBI investigation, she learns what it truly means to be part of a strong Anishnaabe community. Geared toward young adult readers, the book deals with some tough topics — rape, drugs, racism, and death all play a part in this textured story.

The Anthropocene Reviewed:
Essays on a Human-Centered Planet (2021)
“John Green reviews humanity” could be a tagline for this book. Each essay explores an element of the human condition, from the idea of “wonder” to air-conditioning, sunsets and Mario Kart. Filled with love, humor, and hope, it’s the perfect read for a lazy day at the beach. But each essay is so bite-sized it would be just as tasty riding the bus downtown, or sneaking in some reading between acts at a music festival.

The Edge of Summer (2022)
Viola Shipman (actually Saugatuck area resident Wade Rouse, using his grandmother’s name as his nom de plume) has penned a lovely, family-centric, nostalgic walk through smalltown Michigan. After her mother’s death, Sutton Douglas impulsively decides to visit a small Michigan resort town. It’s partially a vacation to escape the present, and partly an investigation to discover more about her mother, their family, and herself. 

The Cartographers (2022)
In this mysterious tale, a young woman finds a strange map in her father’s office after his unexpected death. Even more discoveries follow. Peng Shepherd’s fast-paced fantasy adventure weaves an intricate tapestry of science, magic, love, art, and obsession — a scavenger hunt for adults that will keep readers turning pages until the final twist has taken its turn. A Washington Post Best Book of 2022.

Less (2017)
Instead of attending the wedding of his ex-boyfriend, (fictional) author Arthur Less decides to accept all the invitations he’s received to crazy literary events. It takes him around the world and away from his problems…mostly. Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for this satire of the “American abroad” genre, which also manages to still be exactly that: a story of self-discovery that shows just how fully entwined tragedy and comedy are in our lives.

This reading list was curated by The Bookman, 715 Washington Ave., Grand Haven. 

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