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Summer Reading List

Patricia Nagle

Aug 1, 2023

Get Your Read On!

I haven’t had much of chance to get outside this past month due to the wildfires in Northern Ontario, but I’ve had plenty of time to read. So here are three more book recommendations for those stuck inside due to the special air quality statements or those who just love to read regardless of the weather.


1) Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano is perhaps one of the best books I have read in a long time! It took me only four days to read because I just could not put it down. Published in 2023 and now a part of Oprah’s Book Club, this book is an homage to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Hello Beautiful tells the story of William, an only child with parents that neglect to give him any attention, and the four Padavano sisters Julia, Sylvie, Cecelia, and Emeline. The four sisters come from a close family and have a strong bond.

Hello Beautiful is mainly told from the perspectives of William, Julia and Sylvie. One who is shy and lost, one who is controlling, and the other who is a hopeless romantic. The story follows the lives of these three as they navigate family, college, relationships, and careers. What I like most about this book is the comparison between the two families; William’s shattered family and Julia’s tight knit one. Napolitano demonstrates just how fragile these family bonds can be.

Hello Beautiful is beautifully written. It is 400 pages and available in audiobook format.


2) In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje

I found In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje at random. I was walking up and down the aisles of the library looking for a book that piqued my interest because nothing I had a home cut it for me. Then I stumbled on this book.

Published in 1987, In the Skin of the Lion tells the story of working-class immigrants in Toronto. It is mostly told from the perspective of a local, Patrick Lewis, as he is integrated into the lives of immigrants. It is a story of love, loss, murder and hard work.

The reader is taken into the lives of the bridge workers, tunnel builders, and the loggers in Northern Ontario. Ondaatje describes their day to day lives; the long hours, the little pay, and the struggle to communicate and learn English. In the Skin of the Lion demonstrates how they risked or gave up their lives to develop Toronto, worked hard for very little pay, and left their families for a dream of better life in Canada.

In the Skin of the Lion is a short read, only 243 pages and is also available in audiobook format. There is also a sequel titled The English Patient that follows the lives of two of the characters in the first. I have not read it myself, but the online reviews are good.


3) The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Published in 2008, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is the story of a racecar driver named Danny. The story is narrated by his dog Enzo. Enzo observes Danny’s friendships, relationships, and struggles with a unique and innocent perspective. Stein does an extraordinary job of telling this story. It feels like you are right alongside Enzo feeling his anger towards Danny’s in-laws, his love towards his best friend, and the sadness towards those Danny has lost. His writing style brings out all sorts of emotions as you’re reading it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is 321 pages and available in audiobook format. It is a wonderful read!  This book was adapted into a film in 2019. However, I would not recommend watching it. While it covers some of the key aspects of the book, I think they cut too much out. This was most likely to make the movie family friendly, but I thought the cuts took away from the original story.


Unfortunately, I don’t have any more suggested books this month as I encountered a few I didn’t like. With that being said, I hope these three recommendations help you decide on your next read.

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