Friday Favorites: Guilty Pleasure Reads

Hopefully you’ve received and opportunity this summer to go to a beach or a pool or at least somewhere you can relax in the sun. One of my favorite things to do on a warm summer day is to relax in the shade of the little pergola next to our pool. It is a wonderful work, writing, and reading space that I have really come to treasure in the time we’ve lived here.

And honestly, summer is the time for beach reading. Something I also call candy reading. Those books that you can read in a highly distracting environment and still take in. It’s easy and simple and sweet. These kind of books may also be known as guilty pleasure reads.

So now I expose to you some of my top favorite candy reads. The unintelligent stuff I enjoy with slight embarrassment that you may actually like as well. If you’re looking for a semi-good book for the beach or pool-side, here’s what I got:

1. Anything by Sophie Kinsella
No, it’s not literary by any means, but Sophie Kinsella (of Confessions of a Shopaholic fame) has numerous
romantic comedy novels that are truly funny. Her heroines are sweet, snarky, and super relateable. I always find myself smiling like an idiot as I read the hi jinx of these sassy characters and hope you might as well.

Some of my favorites include Can You Keep A Secret, Remember Me, and I’ve Got Your Number.

2. Odd Thomas–Dean Koontz

Koontz’s market is usually middle-aged men, but I picked up this novel as a kid in high school and loved it. (It was recommended to me by a middle-aged man, if that helps…) Odd, Koontz intriguing main character with a supernatural ability, has a GREAT voice. The novel is told through his perspective. Though the Koontz thriller is a mass-market commercial phenomenon, there is a fabulous sense of symbolism and subtle foreshadowing that no book-snob should dare turn their nose up to. Also, there is an ending that you probably won’t see coming unless you are a careful reader. And if you are a careful reader, you will be so impressed at how he leads up to such a pay off.

Apparently there is a movie adaptation of this on Netflix. I haven’t seen it, but I’m leery because I don’t recall it ever going to theaters… Book is most likely better.

3. the Percy Jackson series–Rick Riordan
So I pretty much read like a middle school boy. I love that books marketed to this demographic always have action, start to finish, as well as a decent amount of humor. You got to keep this rowdy bunch entertained, right? And I find myself in that ADD, keep me stimulated all the time camp.

Enter Percy Jackson! This modern exploration of Greek mythology is brilliant. Told through the eyes of Percy Jackson, a regular boy who discovers he is a demigod, we get to explore Camp Half-blood (Pretty much Hogwarts for the children of gods) and even venture on a quest across America. Great storytelling, wonderful characters, and a simple, fast-paced read. This seriously is one of my favorite series ever. Five books in all. Start with Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief.

There is a movie adaptation of this one too. Just ignore that.

4. Blink–Ted Dekker

So any time I’ve mentioned that I don’t like Christian fiction here in Bohemia, it has been shortly followed by a recommendation of Christian fiction…huh. Well this is no exception. Blink is a fabulous, action packed, sci-fi thriller, laced with a love story. Seriously love this book. You can also find a second edition under the title Blink of an Eye.

Seth is a brilliant, but directionless young man who develops the mysterious ability to see multiple outcomes of the future, only a few second before it happens. He and a runaway Saudi princess cross paths and must depend on one another to decide the fate of the future. (How’s that for cheesy back-cover-copy synopsis!)

Could not put this one down and I know you won’t be able to either.

There is not a movie adaptation of this one. There probably should be…Unless it is the same quality of the ones listed above. Then no. No one should touch it!

5. Teen Idol–Meg Cabot
Travel back to high school with one of my childhood favorites. This was a fluff read that totally changed how I viewed my relationships with people when I was in middle school. That said, don’t expect anything profound. Instead, just enjoy some of the good parts of those awkward years through this wonderful little story.

Teen Idol is about a girl Jen in her junior year of high school. She writes the anonymous advice column for her school paper and has become the confidant of most of the students in her small Indiana high school. Teen heartthrob Luke Striker comes to town to research a role, undercover, at her high school. And only Jen knows his secret. Great book that can be read in one sitting…a whole day sitting at the beach.

Hope these recommendations are helpful for any of you looking for the brainless but fun book to take to the lake!

Favorites for the Month of May

Hey y’all!
It’s been a little while since I’ve had a favorites posting and I thought I’d use this month to explore summer sounds. I put together a summer-y soundtrack to celebrate my first weekend at the beach…though it looks like it’s going to rain the whole time. Oh well, nothing a few good tunes can’t turn around!

1. Summertime–Head and the Heart
I went to see the Head and the Heart last month. The show was okay, but their music is wonderful. This peppy song really makes me excited for summer. The synth intro is quirky and upbeat and Charity’s unique vocals make this one of my favorites right now.

2.Raging Fire–Phillip Phillips
Heard this one on the radio and have fallen so in love with it. The chorus makes me want to embark on some awesome adventure with the love of my life or something as equally wistful. But seriously, I think these lyrics tell a beautiful love story. This one is definitely on the respectable end of the current top 40.

3.Fall Asleep–Jars of Clay
So I grew up listening to Jars of Clay–who doesn’t love Love Song for a Savior? This number is a beautifully sad song about young love that can’t last but you don’t want to end. (I promise, this is the only sad song on the playlist!) Below (and in the link) is a video of the band discussing the making of the song.

4.Gold Mine–Breanne Duren
This song has been on my iPod for a while, but I’ve never really given it much thought, just a lot of play-time. It was a discovery download a couple years ago and I’ve just fallen in love with the retro flare and the unique tone of her voice. I hope you enjoy this tune too!

5.I Got You–Jack Johnson
Because it’s not summer without Jack Johnson. I have been a fan for ages. His music is relaxing, sometimes silly, sometimes challenging. All around good stuff and perfect for the beach. Here’s a sweet love song I have really come to enjoy.

You kind find all of these on a playlist on my YouTube Channel (which doesn’t have anything but this playlist, actually) I hope these songs help get your summer started off right!

Building the Summer Book Pile

I start out each summer feeling very ambitious. I have a mental list of everything I want to accomplish during the summer and somehow magically none of the things on that list get done.

Well this year, that will not be the case!… perhaps.

I know I want to finish Part I of my novel. I’m about ten chapters out from this, so I’m thinking a chapter a week… we’ll see if my characters are feeling the same pace.

I also want to redecorate my bedroom and go through all of my boxes in the storage area in my parents basement. I think it’s odd that I haven’t lived at my parents for three years, and yet I have seemed to accumulate a lot of crap in that window of time. Consolidation must happen or I will end up on hoarders. 

As I thought over this summer, I began to think less and less of these things I wanted to accomplish and more and more about what I wanted to read.

So I thought I’d clue you in to my reading list for the summer. I’m pretty excited about it!

  • The Daylight War – Peter V. Brett
  • Byzantium – Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Green Economy – Bill McKibben
  • I’ve Got Your Number – Sophie Kinsella
  • The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
  • The Equation – Oliver Learnt 

This is my list so far, but it will continue to grow in the next couple days. Feel free to comment with what you are planning to read over the summer as well as recommendations! I love to hear about a new book every now and again… or all the time!

          – Lex