As a tropical island native, I’m used to thinking 70 degrees is winter weather. It’s no surprise that the Michigan winter coming upon us is taking a toll on me (in every sense of the expression). In attempting to combat this struggle, I’ve consulted many Michiganders and cold-weather country folk as well as social media outlets like TikTok for tips on how to cure my seasonal melancholy. After trying out sunlight lamps, eating fruit every day, drinking insane amounts of water and simply not thinking about it, I have resorted to what I do best: binge reading.
I’m not just reading any book that I have lying in my to-be-read pile. I’m purposefully singling out books that I know will either warm my heart with their content or transport me to warm climates. Thus, I present you three books that helped cure my winter blues, if only for a short period of time.
“Beach Read” by Emily Henry
It’s cliché, I know. But, I mean, it’s in the title.
“Beach Read” follows January Andrews, a romance author suffering from writer’s block and in desperate need of income, who slowly falls in love with Augustus Everett, an existentialist literary fiction author dealing with unresolved trauma. They spend their summer in neighboring Michigan lake houses for very different reasons: January is grieving her dad’s death, dealing with the fact that her parents’ marriage was a lie and struggling through her sudden breakup, while Gus simply owns the neighboring lake house. They both graduated from the University of Michigan (subtle plug), where they studied creative writing, and have not seen each other since. Oh, they were also academic rivals — and who doesn’t love a good rivals to lovers story, am I right?
They unexpectedly cross paths and, after January confides in Gus about her writer’s block, they challenge each other to write a novel in the other’s area of expertise. So, January sets out to write literary fiction while Gus writes a romance with a happy ending, a challenge that leads to severe emotional bonding. January tells Gus about her mom’s cancer, her dad’s adulterous history and her ex-boyfriend, while Gus tells January about his abusive father, his mother’s death and his ex-wife. Safe to say they’ve both been through a lot, but, to their surprise, they’re good together.
For me, “Beach Read” is the epitome of a comfort book. And since it takes place in the summer near a lake that simulates a beach setting (hence the title), it helps me reminisce on 15-minute drives to the beach with my friends and filling the car up with sand and sticky salt water after beach days all year long.
“Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Listen, I know the book’s premise has nothing to do with summer. But there’s a reason I’m recommending this instead of Jenkins Reid’s “Malibu Rising,” which is actually set in summer. Hear me out.
“Daisy Jones & The Six” is the story of a six-member band that recounts how they came to be, their ups and their downs and what led to their demise. It’s told in interview format, although the reader doesn’t find out who the interviewer is until the end.
Billy, the band’s leader, and the other members got along pretty well, all things considered. But after their first small tour, their manager, Teddy Price, wanted to add a new female voice to the band for duets. He suggested Daisy Jones, and the rest was history.
They wrote and released albums; Billy and Camilla, Billy’s long-term girlfriend, ended up in a love triangle with Daisy; they went on several tours and several band members dealt with drug addiction, among other things. Sadly, this all contributed to the band’s inevitable breakup.
Maybe it’s because I read it during the summer of 2021, but “Daisy Jones & The Six” reminds me of a warm summer climate. Maybe I’m recommending it because there’s a miniseries based on the novel coming up. Maybe it’s the book’s Hollywood rock ‘n’ roll sun-out-windows-down vibe that makes me think of the summer wind ruffling through my hair and the balmy sun on my face. I read the book during a 10-day summer road trip with my parents, so perhaps I was trying to channel that “artist on tour” energy the novel has going on. Whatever the reason, it’s an enticing and enthralling novel. Simply put, it gets the job done.
“Everything I Know About Love” by Dolly Alderton
It’s vulnerable. It’s clever. It’s adulthood. It’s real. It’s heartwarming.
“Everything I Know About Love” is a witty, hilarious and relatable memoir by British journalist Dolly Alderton relating her experiences with love, loss, professional endeavors, female friendship … you name it. Alderton provides her readers with a fierce recollection of memories, advice, lists, recipes and more to let everyone out there know that life, although uncertain, is beautiful and to assure you that you are never alone.
I read Alderton’s memoir during a time when I felt very alone and, frankly, needed a big sister to tell me what I was supposed to do and how I was supposed to feel during the transition from adolescence to trial adulthood. I felt cold inside and Alderton’s memoir provided guidance and revitalized warmness within me. It contains all the advice I never knew I needed and guided me during a time I felt incredibly lost.
So, if you need an imaginary escape to the beach, a book that has nothing to do with summer but will immediately transport you back to the warmest time of the year or a book that will genuinely warm your heart, don’t fret. These are just the books for you.
Daily Arts Writer Graciela Batlle Cestero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.